"Speedball Jamm" (01/2002)

It's been a long wait for a new release from Vinnie Vincent. During the early part of the KISS reunion he did pretty well in releasing "The EP" which would become "Euphoria", but following that there was more talk than action. Much of what Vinnie was saying would be released, or was being worked on was interesting. Not only was he re-recording material, both "Euphoria" and "All Systems Go" to meet his standards, but he was recording a new studio album which was ever growing in scope: "Guitarmageddon". On the downside, there was the legendary "Archives" incident which saw a tantalizingly hot archive product never ship, even though orders had been apparently placed. On a final note, Vinnie also indicated that he would be releasing a compilation of his ballads, "Rain". Nothing ever came to light, and after the horrible events surrounding the passing of his ex-wife Vinnie dropped from sight.

Now, 5 years later the KISS reunion is over. Former KISS members Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer, and even the deceased Eric Carr have all had releases. So it is about time that something new comes from Vinnie. What is released in January 2002 is "Archives Volume 1: Speedball Jamm" on the GTR Company Label. Produced by Vinnie, the recordings are of solo jam sessions and the infamous 50 minute long studio live recording of "Speedball". A "Vinnie Vincent Archives" update message in 1998 described the piece as, "a 50 minute Vinnie Vincent rehearsal Jam Session from 1986. It features 'Speedball', a Vinnie Vincent instrumental played only on tour from 86-88" (PR). Packaging wise, the release is sparse, with assorted pictures of Vinnie and advertisements of his activities being combined into a collage. There is no booklet, but the CD insert does fold out into a 4 panel picture of Vinnie. Details on the varying component parts of the audio material is sparse. Indeed, the CD only has a single 1 hour 11 minute track, so the material has not been tracked at all. Since the material has been taken from analog sources, no cleanup has been done to take the analog hiss out. It's very much a virgin recording which could have used some audio work, though the serious fan will correct that. The album closes with the live rendition of the Jam introduced by Mark Slaughter's hystrionics.

What the release is really about though, is Vinnie's style and technique. For some, 71 minutes of Vinnie shredding will be too much, but for others just hearing him slash through so many notes is incredible. The release is a snapshot of the Invasion (well just Dana and Bobby perhaps) in full flight with no stop signs on the road! Some of the solo jams seem to be rehearsal pieces, or warm up exercises for Vinnie on his own, it really is rather difficult to tell at times. There seems to be some of "Boyz Are Gonna Rock" in one solo, but who can really tell! Weird, insane, different, wonderful, incredible, there are many superlatives which could be used to describe Vinnie's playing, but it is very difficult to decide how to rate this release. It's cool that it's been released, but I really can't figure out how often it'll get played compared to the "GFH" demos which seem to always be playing!

Price point. $34 seems to be very expensive for a single CD of this sort of material. But the release is aparently limited edition, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was a very low run production which helps make it more expensive. For the diehard Vinnie fan, or guitar-heads, this release is a must, but other fans expecting something more diverse, they can probably give it a miss, unless they're completist collectors.