Thursday, June 16, 2011

Twisted Sister – Under The Blade

 Under the Blade

I’m sure you’ve heard of Twisted Sister but do you know about Twisted FUCKIN Sister? Twisted Sister is the band you saw on MTV and heard on the radio starting in 1984 but loooong before that Twisted Fuckin Sister were blasting fast n loud in the bars and clubs of the tri-state NYC area. In the late 70’s/early 80’s heyday they were one of the heaviest bands out there. They battled against demon disco forces and helped make heavy metal a huge phenomenon on the east coast. They played 4 or 5 nights a week in any dump that could contain them and their ever growing fan base of rowdy sick motherfuckin friends (S.M.F.’s).

I’d heard the name and legend from older burnouts in high school but was first indecently exposed to them when they appeared on the short lived Flo & Eddie TV show. I was already a huge Alice Cooper fan and when I saw Twisted Sister on TV I knew these freaks would be right up my alley. They were introduced and then exploded into the song “Under The Blade.”  It made my little 9th grade mind explode and I went berserk in front of the TV. Luckily it was late at night and no one could see me headbanging and jumping off the couch in my pj’s. Not long after that I tracked down this album, the band’s 1982 full length debut album Under The Blade. Twisted Sister had been releasing singles on their own labels for years but was unable to get a record deal. Finally, a punk label from England called Secret Records (home of The Exploited) took a chance on them. Long out of print, Under The Blade is back and better than ever. 

Under The Blade has always suffered from a thin, low budget sound but the songs are so full of aggression and belligerence it’s never been a problem. The album was produced by Pete Way of UFO but who knows how sober he was during the recording. Twisted Sister had been playing these songs live for years so he probably stayed out of the way and made sure they were fired up enough to deliver good takes. “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)” was their set opener at the time and issues a challenge to rock out or get the fuck out. When I finally got to see Twisted Sister for the first time at Lamour in Brooklyn Dee got right in my face and screamed the line “HOW DO YOU LIKE IT SO FAR?” I like it just fine and still do!

Catchy tunes like the AC/DC influenced “Bad Boys (Of Rock N Roll)” and “Shoot ‘Em Down” point towards the commercial direction that would eventually make them huge stars a few years later. Great songs, but hardcore S.M.F.’s like me always went ballistic for the Judas Priest inspired “Sin After Sin” and the always intense title track. “Destroyer” is probably the heaviest song they ever wrote. Slow and powerful with creepy heavy breathing during the intro, it’s obviously Black Sabbath influenced but sounds more like the Cro-Mags. This was always a major crowd pleaser with a sea of fists pumping the air. “Run For Your Life” starts out slow and heavy before shifting into major high gear. But my favorite Twisted Sister song has always been “Tear It Loose.” It’s a major headbanging boogier. Just imagine if Motorhead was drinking some of Jim Dandy’s moonshine while imbibing some pure crystal meth. You don’t even really have to imagine it since Fast Eddie Clarke plays dueling leads with Jay Jay French on it. “The Day Of The Rocker” is the last song and thuds along like AC/DC or Rose Tattoo at their blusiest.

Even better than having the album back in print is the bonus DVD of Twisted Sister’s notorious set at the Reading Festival in the summer of 1982. I had seen the photos in Kerrang magazine and heard that they blew away the crowd. The footage is everything I had hoped for and more. They come out blazing and basically destroy the audience with full on MC5/Ted Nugent energy and attitude. English festivals are notorious for the crowd throwing shit at bands. Within seconds rolls of toilet paper and eggs are flying up on to the stage. The band never flinches and Dee even challenges the entire crowd to fight after the show. They blaze through 7 songs from Under The Blade with supreme gusto and confidence. To jack up the energy level even more they end the set with their raucous cover of “It’s Only Rock N Roll.” During the breakdown who strolls out on to the stage but Pete Way, Fast Eddie Clarke and Lemmy. Not only do you have a triple axe attack but three bass players, too. Fast Eddie had quit Motorhead not too long before this show and this was the first time Lemmy and Eddie appeared in public together. Not a bad show, eh? The rest of the DVD contains interviews with the band about the Reading Festival and the making of Under The Blade. Great stuff, but the live footage is nothing short of totally mint deluxe.

Fans of Twisted Sister and Twisted FUCKIN Sister are ordered to pick this muther up at once. You won’t be sorry. Other good news for S.M.F.’s is that Rhino is FINALLY releasing an album from the landmark shows recorded at London’s Marquee club in March, 1983. Some of the recordings turned up as B-sides but never a complete show. Until that comes out, keep blasting this one and your worn out tapes of the killer 1982 WBAB radio broadcast from Hammerheads on Long Island. If you need a copy, lemmy know. I’d be glad to hook you up.

--Woody

Buy here: Under the Blade



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