Vinnie Vincent - "Euphoria" and "Speedball Jamm"

Steve Perry of Journey is not the only long-lost arena rock musician of the ‘80’s who returned to the public eye in 2018. Another one is Vinnie Vincent (real name: Vincent Cusano), who was a member of Kiss for a brief but significant time in that band’s history. Replacing Ace Frehley as their lead guitarist in 1982, Vincent joined Kiss shortly before they temporarily stopped wearing their trademark makeup, wearing an Ankh design on his painted face. Vincent was on board for the band’s public unmasking, and for their 1983 comeback album Lick It Up, on which he co-wrote 8 of the 10 tracks. But Vincent’s agenda reportedly clashed with those of Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, who fired him from Kiss before their next album was recorded. Vincent went on to form his own band called the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, who recorded two hair-metal albums in 1986 and 1988, before the second album’s lineup split from Vincent to form the band called Slaughter.

Vincent kept a low profile for most of the years since then, until he appeared at a Kiss Expo in Atlanta in January of 2018. In April of the same year, he appeared with Gene Simmons for the first time in decades, at a Nashville presentation of Simmons’ Vault Experience. Also in April, Vinnie announced that he would re-release his rare solo recordings Euphoria (a 1996 EP) and Speedball Jamm (a 2002 instrumental CD previously released under the title Archives Volume 1) in June. But, as of this writing in late August, those reissues have not yet surfaced. And that may be a good thing. No offense to Vinnie, but maybe those recordings ought to remain in obscurity.

The Euphoria EP was released in 1996, but was recorded in or around 1991. It reunited Vincent with vocalist Robert Fleischman, who was the lead singer on the first Vinnie Vincent Invasion album from 1986. (Incidentally, Fleischman was once briefly a member of Journey in the late ‘70’s, shortly before Steve Perry had joined them). The drumming is credited to “V. Meister”, reportedly a pseudonym for Vincent, who also wrote, arranged, and (under-)produced the four tracks. This EP was meant to promote a full-length album called “Guitarmageddon”, which was never released. Its original title was simply The EP, which sounds like the type of title one might give to a parody – and this EP certainly sounds like one. It’s a hilariously bad hair-metal freak show: Vinnie mercilessly shreds his guitar at the speed of light for no apparent reason other than to show that he can do it, while Fleischman sings at a comically high pitch that quickly begins to grate – in a way, this duo was well-matched! The opening title track is a totally cacophonous mess, with the super-speeded guitar frenzy and the squealy vocals obnoxiously exploding like fireworks. “Get The Led Out” indeed sounds like the Zeppelin parody that its title suggests, with Fleischman singing like Robert Plant with his manhood in a vice. “Full Shredd” might have been better as an instrumental; as out-of-control as Vinnie’s guitar inevitably gets, the song’s ultimate silliness comes from hearing Fleischman singing the title out loud. And to think: they actually recorded a full-length album’s worth of this cartoonish material!

The full-length, all-instrumental CD titled Archives Volume 1 consisted of one long track titled “Speedball Jamm” that runs for 71 minutes(!), and is divided into ten not-very-distinct parts. It’s a subterranean-sounding recording of Vinnie jamming endlessly on a lead guitar at high speed, sometimes solo, sometimes with the accompaniment of bass and drums. (The final nine minutes capture him jamming live with the Invasion). Vinnie could really shred his guitar at warp speed like a madman; if someone had secretly recorded Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen with lo-fi equipment while they were shamelessly jamming away in a garage, it may have sounded something like this disc. But unless you view Vinnie as a legend on the level of either one of those guys, then you probably won’t want to listen to him strutting his stuff for over an hour straight – and, because this is a one-track CD, you’ll be in it for the long haul. If a future reissue of "Speedball Jamm" presents the different parts as tracks that can be programmed or separated, then simply playing Speedball I and II would give you a more condensed portion that would sum things up well enough in less than half-an-hour. “Shredd 2” and “Speedball V” also are likely to grab your attention. But only fervent worshippers of the Ankh Warrior are likely to want to listen to this exhausting Metal Machine Music-sized metal heap in one sitting.

Vinnie Vincent - Euphoria

Vinnie Vincent “Euphoria” EP (Metaluna, no number) 1996

Track Listing:

1. Euphoria
2. Get The Led Out
3. Wild Child
4. Full Shredd

Vinnie Vincent - Archives Volume I

Vinnie Vincent “Archives Volume 1” (GTR Company GTRV10449) 2002

Track Listing:

1. Speedball Jamm

-- a. Shredd 1 – Solo
-- b. Shredd 2 – with Drums & Bass
-- c. Shredd 3 – Solo
-- d. Speedball I
-- e. Speedball II
-- f. Speedball III
-- g. Speedball IV
-- h. Speedball V
-- i. Shredd 4 – Solo
-- j. Speedball (Live)


toliklisiy said…
Metaluna Records MR 001