TWISTED SISTER

"Rock'n'Roll Saviors" (Deadline; 2016)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This 3-CD collection contains live recordings from the legendary Twisted Sister in 1979, 1980 and 1983. There's good news and bad news about this set.

The good news is that the band sounds tight and hungry. There's a pep and a drive to every song that has pretty much set the stage for this band ever since. Twisted Sister plays hard and it's interesting to hear that hunger in their early days. Plus, there are some rarer songs here as well, so it's great to be able to hear them.

The bad news is that the sound quality of this collection isn't much better than the bootleg versions a Twisted Sister completest might already have. Some of the time, that's fine - these recordings are older and their roughness gives them an interesting, authentic edge. Other times, however, the recording is just plain bad. One of my favorite songs of all time is "Born to Be Wild" and Twisted Sister covers it on Disc 3 here. The recording is so bad, however, it was more frustrating than it was rocking.

Overall, this is a good set to have if you don't already have it. Bad sound aside, it's really something to hear Twisted Sister in their earlier days. Is it worth $30? Nah, I don't think so.

For more information, check out http://www.twistedsister.com/

"Double Live: North Stage '82/New York Steel '01" (Eagle Rock; 2011)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

You would think that this apparently never-ending parade of older Twisted Sister shows would eventually get boring. And then here comes another collection and you realize, actually, this is pretty cool.

This latest double disc collection contains two shows of major importance in the history of the legendary Twisted Sister. Disc 1 contains the band's performance at the North Stage Theater in 1982. What makes this particular show so interesting is that it was the band's last performance before flying to England to record their debut album, "Under the Blade." The band's excitement at the future about to unfold them is obvious throughout the performance, and their hunger for success translates well to a dynamic show. The sound and video quality are surprisingly excellent considering the piece's age and a couple of very rare Twisted Sister songs are included for good measure.

Disc Two was recorded at the New York Steel show in 2001, which was recorded shortly after the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks. The band has just reformed, more out of a sense of patriotism than anything else, and their determination and growing delight at their welcome back are apparent throughout the performance. Disc 2 is a collection of the band's biggest hits but you'd expect that from a show of this type and the sound and video quality are excellent.

Each disc contains interviews with the band members, discussing the performances captured herein, their reunion, and much, much more. Disc 2 also contains a fascinating photo gallery.

Some DVDs are meant just to be an interesting piece to fit into major collectors' or completists' collections. This disc doesn't fall into that category. The performances on both discs are awesome, and the historic relevance (to both the band and of 9/11) make this a collection worth seeing.

For more information, check out http://www.twistedsister.com/

"You Can't Stop Rock "N" Roll" (Armoury Records Remaster Series; 2011)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll" was the first Twisted Sister album I ever bought, or heard. I bought it because I thought it was Blackie Lawless's band at the time, Sister, who I had heard wild things about. But I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered it was another group entirely and I liked the CD. This album is pure, unadulterated hard rock, with songs that were written before the band hit full stride (which they would do on their next album, "Stay Hungry"), but that have an unmistakable power anyway. It should have come as no surprise to anyone when Twisted Sister hit the big time on their very next studio album.

"The Kids Are Back" opens "You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll," and it still rocks hard, especially because it was used so well recently in the opening of "Jackass 3-D." "Ride to Live, Live to Ride," "Like a Knife in the Back" and the title track still sound great as well. Other tracks, however ... well, some don't fare so well, either because they've been played out in the Twisted Sister world ("We're Gonna Make It"), or because they just weren't memorable in the first place ("I'll Take You Alive).

The three bonus tracks here, "One Man Woman," "Four Barrel Heart of Love" and "Feel the Power" all stand the test of time remarkably well.

Overall, I was a little surprised that this remastered version didn't blow me away as much as the "Club Daze" compilation did (see my review below). That probably had more to do with the fact that I wasn't much of a fan of 'Club Daze" when it was first released whereas "You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll," my induction into the world of Twisted Sister, has been back in my CD player dozens of times since it first hit stores. The differences are clear: "You Can't Stop..." sounds better now than it ever has, but it didn't benefit as much from the remaster as "Club Daze" did. But it's still a surprisingly strong hard rock record, even after nearly 30 years.

For more information, check out http://www.twistedsister.com/

"Club Daze Volume I: The Studio Sessions" (Armoury Records Remaster Series; 2011)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

In all honesty, it's probably been ten years since I pulled the original 1999 edition of "Club Daze, Volume I: The Studio Sessions," out of its spot in the Twisted Sister section of the Rough Edge library to give it a listen. As you can tell from my previous review (below), I wasn't that thrilled with the original release, at least not enough to dig it out again after nearly a decade.

But, when I see the word "remaster" on a CD, I usually sit up and take notice. More often than not, it's an improvement on the original. Such seems to be the case here. I say "seems" because, as I said above, it's been a looong time since I last listened to "Club Daze, Volume 1." But what struck me this time is how much more the tracks sound like actual studio tracks than demo tracks. I don't know if that's a result of the remaster here or if my memory is wrong. Maybe I'll dig out my old copy someday. Maybe not.

While a lot of the comments in my earlier review still stand, some things have changed (at least for me). "Come Back" now sounds better than ever, for whatever reason, being one of those anthems that Twisted Sister did so well. "Pay the Price" plays more like a track from a 70s hard rock album (I thought it was "just too simple" before but I enjoy its effortless drive now).  "Rock N Roll Saviors" is fun but its death-to-disco lyrics induce a smirk every time. "TV Wife," with vocals by Jay Jay French, is a sauntering track that winds up being one of the best on the CD. As for the songs that went on to appear on other Twisted Sister albums ("I'll Never Grow Up Now," "Under The Blade," "Shoot 'Em Down" and "Leader of the Pack") some are at least as good and some are worse than their later renditions. "Leader of the Pack" still sucks but I now believe that Dee's vocal problems here are more phlegm-based than electronically based.

Whereas I couldn't recommend "Club Daze" the first time round, I think I can do so now. Not only do the songs hold up better than I remembered, there's some real rock'n'roll history here, especially if you're a heavy metal fan.

Twisted Sister: Dee Snider - vocals; Jay Jay French - guitar and vocals; Eddie Ojeda - guitar and vocals; Tony Petri - drums; Mark Mendoza - bass and vocals; Kenneth Harrison Neill - bass.

For more information, check out http://www.twistedsister.com/

"Live at Wacken: The Reunion" (Eagle Rock; 2010)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Twisted Sister is a band that shot to superstardom, flamed out almost as quickly and now (perhaps surprisingly) reign as one of heavy metal's biggest draws worldwide. If you ever wondered how a band that dressed like drag queens became one of the genre's most enduring acts, this DVD/CD set will lay it all out for you quite nicely.

The DVD portion of "Live at Wacken" features concert footage from the band's performance at Wacken 2003, where they played before over 40,000 fans. You know all the songs here: "Stay Hungry," "The Kids are Back," "We're Not Gonna Take It" and more. What's most eye-opening here is the energy with which the band performs. They don't play like a band touring together for the first time in 17 years, they play with the ferocity and hunger of a band trying to get your attention. In other words, when you see Twisted Sister play live, you're going to get your money's worth. And the live footage is well-shot and edited, for the most part not giving in to the superfast-cut editing style that's killed too many concert DVDs recently.

Interspersed between the live clips are more recent interviews with the band, discussing everything from their early days, their breakup in 1987 and the slow-burn to the Wacken reunion concert featured herein. The band is amazingly honest throughout, spilling every detail about the feuds and feelings that almost destroyed them, and the interviews are fascinating viewing. (It is a little strange to see the band out of make-up; I've been a fan for years and it's the first time I realized that Twisted Sister, like Kiss, are playing characters onstage).

Also included in the DVD portion are rare clips of performances from a party held for Lava/Atlantic's Jason Flom, a performance during the NY Steel concert, the Making of "Stay Hungry," and footage from the band's hugely successful USO tour of South Korea.

The only bummer about the DVD is that you can't program it to just play the concert in its entirety. That's a feature I would have loved for repeat viewings.

The audio CD included herein features some material that you might have heard before but that is fitting considering the historical contest of the DVD. Featured are live performances from Detroit, Michigan in 1980, the Marquee club in London from December 1982 and several tracks from the 2003 Wacken performance. Although the recording techniques may be a little rough on the early material, it all sounds great and, once again, it's surprising how great the band sounds on the more recent recordings.

Twisted Sister may have disappeared from the radar there for awhile, but it's obvious from this CD that their amazing live performances and great songs that they couldn't stay away for long ... and that they have a well-deserved place in heavy metal history.

Twisted Sister: Dee Snider - vocals; Jay Jay French - lead and rhythm guitars; Eddie Ojeda - lead and rhythm guitars and backing vocals; Mark Mendoza - bass guitar and backing vocals; A.J. Pero - drums and backing vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.twistedsister.com/

"Stay Hungry: 25th Anniversary Edition" (Rhino; 2009)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Yes, it's been 25 years since Twisted Sister brought Animal House's Neidermeyer (Mark Metcalf) out of retirement. That collection of rebellion-themed music videos, tied in with the fist-pumping anthems on "Stay Hungry," made Twisted Sister a household word ... at least for awhile. Although the band has never had a record anywhere near as successful as this one after all these years, Twisted Sister is probably just as well known today. And it could be argued that it is because of this iconic album that that is the case.

"Stay Hungry: 25th Anniversary Edition" is a two-disc collection that celebrates the two-and-a-half decade old classic album. Disc 1 is the original 12-track album, including the monster hits "Stay Hungry," "We're Not Gonna Take It," "I Wanna Rock" and the song that spoke volumes to every musician I've ever known, "The Price." It's surprising (although perhaps it shouldn't be considering the album's legendary success) that "Stay Hungry" holds up as well as it does. The new re-mastering helps. Although I haven't played my original disc and the new one side-by-side, the 25th Anniversary disc sounds great and the songs stand up to the test of time exceptionally well. And Bryan Reesman does an excellent and very frank job of laying out the band's history in the liner notes. It makes for a fascinating read.

Disc Two is a collection of unreleased songs, early demos of big hits (i.e., "We're Not Going to Take It," "The Price" and more) and rare tracks like a KMET radio spot. Also featured is a February 2009 recording of "30," a song Dee Snider wrote for the "Gone Country" reality show but played Twisted Sister style here. Again, most of the unreleased songs sound pretty damn good considering their age (and I mean both in production quality and in their writing), the demos are a lot of fun to listen to ("We're Not Going to Take It" in its early stages isn't quite as powerful) and the new song kicks some serious ass.

After the failures of "Come Out and Play" and "Love is For Suckers" (1985 and 1987 respectively), I wasn't sure I would miss Twisted Sister when they called it quits. And that's the despite the fact that I don't mind either one of those albums. That being said, after listening to "Stay Hungry: 25th Anniversary Edition," I'm glad they're still around. I just wish they'd record some new material in the studio soon and, no, I don't mean another Christmas album, either.

Twisted Sister: Dee Snider - vocals; Jay Jay French - lead and rhythm guitars; Eddie Ojeda - lead and rhythm guitars and backing vocals; Mark Mendoza - bass guitar and backing vocals; A.J. Pero - drums and backing vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.twistedsister.com/

"A Twisted Christmas Live" (Razor & Tie; 2007)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

This DVD was recorded live at the Starland Ballroom in New Jersey. The concert has fourteen tracks with seven of them being classic Twisted Sister tunes and the other seven are from the “Twisted Christmas” album. So is it shocking for a hard rock band to perform so many Christmas songs? No more shocking than seeing a bunch of fifty-somethings slap on make-up, wigs and ripped up outfits so they can go out and perform twenty plus years after their prime. 

The Christmas songs are kind of goofy, but in an enjoyable way for the most part. The joke gets old kind of fast, but they largely pull those off. The classic songs by this band are the main draw here. I thought the biggest highlights were “Burn in Hell,” “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll,” “The Price” and a killer version of the often overlooked “Fire Still Burns.”

Yeah, the band looks silly and the stage seems odd with tinsel, candy canes, red ribbons and Christmas lights everywhere. Yet there is still that fourteen year old inside of me that still has a soft spot for this band and their music. There is no doubt that Dee Snider is a fantastic frontman and I purposely use the word “is.” Twisted Sister have always been a band whose energy and presentation make up for lack of talent and creativity. Not an easy task, but I think they've pulled it off and they continue to do so.

Also included are videos for “Come All Ye Faithful” and an in-the-studio version of “Heavy Metal Christmas,” brief interviews with Dee and Jay Jay plus some footage of Jay Jay and Mendoza leading the choir as they recorded the backing vocals for a few tracks.

"A Twisted Christmas Live" is only about $10 and is a pretty good buy for what it is.

For more information, check out http://www.twistedsister.com/

"A Twisted Christmas" (Razor & Tie; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It seemed like a natural. Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider succeeded so well with his Van Helsing's Curse project for Halloween that a Twisted Sister Christmas album appeared to be the perfect segue.

Well, not so much.

"A Twisted Christmas" is entertaining enough. It's a collection of classic Christmas tunes played in the Twisted Sister style of hard rock/heavy metal. It's all pretty straight forward ... it's just Christmas carols performed with electric guitar instead of orchestra ... and, of course, sung in Snider's inimitable style. 

Unfortunately, this kind of Christmas album has been done by many other artists before Twisted Sister decided to try their hand at it and there's nothing new here that stands out from the rest. The highlights are a duet with Lita Ford (whom we haven't heard from in far too long a time) and the final track, "Heavy Metal Christmas," a metal-ized version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with lyrics like "On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ... a tattoo of Ozzy" (you get the idea). The band's version of "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful," set to the tune of "We're Not Gonna Take It," also brings a smile.

As I said above, "Twisted Sister" is entertaining, but in an overly safe, novelty-record kind of way. There's none of the danger here that Twisted Sister has been known for on previous album and it's sorely missed. "A Twisted Christmas" has been advertised as the final Twisted Sister album ever but, seriously, guys, this isn't the way to go out.

Twisted Sister: Dee Snider - vocals; Jay Jay French - lead and rhythm guitars; Eddie Ojeda - lead and rhythm guitars and backing vocals; Mark Mendoza - bass guitar and backing vocals; A.J. Pero - drums and backing vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.twistedsister.com/

"Still Hungry" (Spitfire; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Like a few other bands out there (Anthrax, Testament and Axe come immediately to mind) Twisted Sister have gone back into the studio and, with the same line-up, re-recorded their classic album, "Stay Hungry." Now entitled "Still Hungry," the new CD features the nine-tracks that comprised the original disc, plus seven additional tracks.

First the re-recording: As you might imagine, it all sounds much clearer today. With modern recording techniques, band members that have honed their art considerably since the early days and years upon years of polishing these songs, "Still Hungry" stays true to the original but brings it into the new millennium with a fresh and crisp sound. 

The guitars sound great on "Still Hungry," better than on the original, and there are several extended solos placed throughout. Dee Snider still has his trademark screaming growl vocals and the band as a whole can still belt out classics such as "I Wanna Rock" and "We're Not Gonna Take It" without making them sound tired and contrived.

That being said, however, there is one thing that isn't quite as strong on "Still Hungry" as "Stay Hungry" and that, ironically enough, is the band's hunger. There was an attitude to the original "Stay Hungry" that was borne out of wanting to be big stars and doing everything possible to achieve that. That attitude isn't quite as intense on "Still Hungry," mostly, I think, because the band is visiting songs that were written during another era of their lives. The bandmembers of Twisted Sister are all rather successful in their own lives these days (whether it's producing the work of others or doing radio talk shows) and the lack of that raw want and determination is missed here.  It isn't that "Still Hungry" doesn't rock hard; it does. It's just that it doesn't have the same edge that the original did.

Also included on the CD are two songs originally recorded in 1984 and presented here for the first time. "Never Say Never" and "Blastin' Fast & Loud" are both okay songs but were probably left on the cutting room floor twenty years ago for good reason. 

There are also four brand new 2004 studio tracks here, live versions of which appeared on the band's earlier "Club Daze 2: Live in the Bars" CD. The CD ends with the previously released "Heroes Are Hard to Find" from "Strangeland," the film written by and starring Dee Snider.

"Still Hungry" is a journey down memory lane that Twisted Sister fans will find impossible to resist. 

Twisted Sister: Dee Snider - vocals; Jay Jay French - lead and rhythm guitars; Eddie Ojeda - lead and rhythm guitars and backing vocals; Mark Mendoza - bass guitar and backing vocals; A.J. Pero - drums and backing vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.twistedsister.com/

"Club Daze Volume II: Live in the Bars" (Spitfire; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Twisted Sister were best known for being bizarre, obnoxious and obscene. Anybody who's ever been to a Twisted Sister show knows just what I mean.

"Club Daze: Volume II" is a collection of the band's earlier songs and, although the tunes herein rock as well as the band's later material, that bizarre, obnoxious and obscene attitude hasn't quite developed yet. In other words, the energy is there; but the attitude isn't quite defined.

Featuring live versions of songs that appear on other studio albums ("Under the Blade") to songs that have never appeared before anywhere ("Plastic Money," "Honey Look Twice," "You Know I Cry" and "Without You."), this CD is really a history lesson in the short but sweet career of Twisted Sister.

The first two tracks of the CD, however, are recent studio tracks recorded in 2001 by the newly reunited band. I don't know about you, but - considering recent events - I think "We're Not Gonna Take It" could be a popular anthem once again. It's not on this CD, but "Never Say Never" and "Blastin' Fast & Loud" are and, although they lack the pizzazz of the band's best stuff, they're not half bad tunes.

According to the liner notes by Jay Jay French, the drum tracks from the first two cuts were recorded for the "Stay Hungry" sessions in 1984 with all other instruments added this year. Track 3 - 9 were recorded from a radio show that was never broadcast on Halloween 1979. The last three tracks, two of which are terrific covers of "Long Tall Sally" and "Johnny B. Goode," were recorded off the air from first generation cassette tapes. They don't sound bad at all considering.

Although they take a lot of (sometimes unfair) hits regarding their musical talents, one thing that Twisted Sister always brought to the stage and recordings was energy. That energy is abundant throughout "Club Daze II" although it may take those who are fans of the band already to appreciate it.

"Club Daze Volume I: The Studio Sessions" (Spitfire; 1999)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This 13-track CD is a collection of "rare or never released studio versions of original songs that Twisted Sister performed while playing the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut club circuit from 1978 -1981." So says the back of the CD. I know - that's kind of confusing. The bottom line is that you probably haven't heard many of these songs before. The big question is do you really want to?

"Club Daze Volume I" starts out promisingly enough. "Come Back" is a simple but dynamic number that makes you think of Dee Snider's trademark, big-blonde-haired headbanging on stage. You can just see him scowling, that yellow mane flailing, as he performed this one. 

"Pay the Price" is up next and it's just too simple. It's one of those songs that just doesn't age well. Hearing it, you know it's an old tune. Same with "Rock N Roll Saviors" which may actually elicit embarrassed blushes from many listeners. When's the last time you heard a "Death-To-Disco" tune? Yeah, pretty silly. Too bad, too. It's got a pretty good riff running behind it. 

Most of the songs run along the lines of "Pay the Price." They don't sound bad but they sure sound dated. Of course, they are dated. The songwriting style herein is along the lines of vintage Starz which - if you consider the "1978 - 1981" dates that these songs were recorded - isn't too far away era-wise.

A few of the songs recorded here are early versions of songs released on later Twisted Sister albums: "I'll Never Grow Up Now," "Under The Blade," "Shoot 'Em Down" and an early cover of the ill-fated "Leader Pack" (this one's not much better; it doesn't help that the master tape seems to have stretched during recording and Dee's voice is a little smeared).

All in all, "Club Daze" is a nice collector's piece for Twisted Sister fans but that's about all. Nothing on here stands out strongly enough to recommend the purchase of the CD at full price. If you can pick it up on eBay, that's one thing. Otherwise, leave this one for the SMF's.

For more information, check out http://www.twistedsister.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2016 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09 Apr 2017 13:37:20 -0400.