Thursday, November 3, 2011

Twisted Sister - Double Live DVD/Live At the Marquee CD

A few months ago I wrote a frantic, drooling review of the reissue of Twisted Sister's debut album Under The Blade. It came with a bonus live DVD of their hell raising performance at the 1982 Reading Festival in the UK. As great as that package is, 2 others have come out and blow it away.  In July the Double Live DVD was released containing a full live show from 1982 and their reunion at the 2001 NY Steel benefit, and just a few weeks ago Rhino released an audio CD called Live At The Marquee recorded in 1983.

The 1982 show from Double Live is a revelation. There's not a lot of footage documenting Twisted Sister in their club daze and to have a professionally filmed complete show is nothing short of awesome. Everything you ever heard about their show is true. Five guys in fruity satin outfits bashing out some of the most intense metal of the era. If the opening three songs of "What You Don't Know (Sure Can Hurt You)," "Destroyer" and "Tear It Loose" don't kick your ass then you don't have one. Filmed at the North Stage theater in Long Island, it captures Twisted Sister right before the left for England to record Under The Blade with Pete Way of UFO as producer. The energy level is high and the crowd (back when the drinking age was 18) is rowdy. Someone in the front row hands Dee Snider an early issue the infamous Kick Ass fanzine and Dee graciously shows it to the crowd. Kick Ass is one of the publications that helped put Twisted on the metal map back in the day and it's cool that it's documented here. North Stage was supposed to be Twisted Sister's farewell to the club scene but that didn't happen until almost 2 years later when their Stay Hungry album exploded. The footage here documents songs that were retired from their set not long after this show like "I'll Never Grow Up Now," "Lady's Boy," "You Know I Cry" and the anti-disco anthem "Rock N Roll Saviours." The only dud is their cover of "Leader Of The Pack" but, hey, back then the chicks liked it and it gave me time to take a leak and get a new beer before they busted out another heavy one. On this occasion it's a blistering version of "Under The Blade." Headbanging is always easier with an empty bladder and a fresh drink.

The other disc in this package is their reunion show from 2001 that took place at the NY Steel benefit show after 9/11. There was a lot of bad blood between the members up to this point but they put it all aside for a good cause and kicked major ass. It's a little unfair to compare the two shows since the 1982 one is the band at their absolute peak but the 2001 show is also great. Even though they're wearing street clothes the band still puts on a very energetic show. Dee's banging his head like a maniac and bassist Mark "The Animal" Mendoza is is even bigger and scarier than ever. Jay Jay French looks ridiculous in his cheap wig but still plays some great solos. The audio source is from the soundboard so the crowd is very low in the mix and Dee's voice struggles at times. The set list leans towards the Stay Hungry era with the hits "I Wanna Rock," "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "Stay Hungry." They don't let the die hards down with some great oldies like "Come Back" and "You Know I Cry." Chances are you're not going to watch this disc that often but it's still cool to have.

Something you're going to listen to all the time is the killer Live At The Marquee CD. In 1983 Twisted Sister built up a huge following in the UK that could no longer be ignored and they were signed by Atlantic Records. They did 2 nights at the legendary Marquee club in March and recorded both nights for live b-sides of their singles. About 8 songs from these shows were spread across 12 inch and 7 inch singles. Over ten years ago I burned them all to CD and sequenced them into a mini-concert that I blasted all the time. I always hoped they would release an entire show and here it is almost 30 years later and it's happened. Worth the wait? FUCK YES!! I'm not sure if this was intentional or not but some of the versions on the CD are different from the ones that were put out on wax. For instance, the version of "What You Don't Know" on the CD the band is introduced by none other than Lemmy. It's probably for the best this wasn't the way it was put out back in 83 because my head would have exploded.

The performances on this disc are tight, potent and LOUD!  Twisted Sister in their prime could really kick out the jams. "Sin After Sin" is brutally hard, almost like Judas Priest playing "1969" by the Stooges. "Destroyer" is heavy as hell and "Tear It Loose" is pure Motorhead speed boogie. The English crowd goes nuts when they play the (at the time) unreleased "I Am (I'm Me)" and "You Can't Stop Rock N Roll." Dee and Jay Jay deliver some hilarious stage raps that give you some insight into what it was like to be a headbanger back then. I still hate Adam Ant and I'm glad that Dee voiced his opinion back then and that it still holds up. This CD is a limited edition from Rhino Handmade and comes in a very cool TS logo shaped cover about the size of a 10".

Everyone in the NY/NJ area who experienced Twisted Sister in their glory years will tell you at length how great the band was but how the albums never captured their true spirit. The proof is out and there's no denying it. Play it loud forever, mutha.

--Woody



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