Twisted Sister: The Kids Are Back, Mutha!
Well, let me first start by saying this:
I WAS THERE FIRST!
I purchased Twisted Sister’s “Under The Blade” on vinyl the day it came out in 1982 on Secret Records…without knowing a damn thing about them. Never ever heard of them. The reason I grabbed this on contact was because it was on Secret Records. This was the home of The Exploited, The 4 Skins, The Business, Chron Gen, Infa-Riot…and 4 killer classic “Oi!” albums. Twisted Sister had nothing to do with any of these groups. This record was a total departure for Secret Records. It must be told, however, that Secret Records morphed into Music For Nations and wiped out their punk/Oi! roster and replaced it with just heavy metal artists. They were the first to put Metallica on vinyl, releasing a handful of singles, E.P.’s and those 1st three classic albums.
OK, back to sister. I’m assuming Secret Records broke tradition because of the hysteria of Twisted Sister’s live shows in the clubs of England? To be totally honest, the original issue of “Under The Blade” was not all that well produced. The attitude, songs, and performance were top notch. It’s just that producer (Pete Way, bassist and leader of the classic UFO), just could not get the guitar sound to really sparkle the way it should have. This first issue really sounded like demos for a record company. That was the way I felt in 1982, and that’s the way I feel about it now. Obviously, I wasn’t alone. In April of 1985 (3 years after this LP came out, and 1 year after the “Stay Hungry” LP broke big), bassist Mark Mendoza & Denny McNerney remixed the whole thing. In my 43,000 plus record collection, I can’t think of a better record that got remixed than this one. Mark (who played bass with the now legendary Dictators almost 5 years before joining sister), and Denny just took a guitar sound and splattered it all over your face. I’d even guess that guitars were re-recorded? It sounded like a new album. If that wasn’t enough, the LP had a rare bonus track that was the first Twisted Sister recording and independent single called, “I’ll Never Grow Up, Now!
Back On Black records out of the UK has just reissued this but it is the original, muddy recording which is probably rare by now? It is expanded to a double album and it includes all 4 tracks from their “Ruff Cutts” E.P. that came out just a few months before “Under The Blade.”
Back On Black is also issuing Twisted Sister’s sophomore album, “You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll” and their 4th LP titled, “Come Out And Play.”
“You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll” had a much better sound, and is probably my pet LP by them. Mostly because it was actually a good record and in the U.S. it was ignored…bad timing for sure I would say? I always thought that producer Stuart Epps created a groundbreaking super clean king of processed (but raw) rhythm guitar sound. Even though Ratt’s “Out Of The Cellar” blew out everything in it’s way a year later and sounded more like Aerosmith, the ideas used on “You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll” were used on the Ratt LP by Beau Hill (who actually produce the “Love Is For Suckers” album by sister). There is the clean guitar and backwards drum intros etc. etc. Ratt’s album sounded nothing like Twisted Sisters; it’s just that there are so many similar ideas that were done a whole year before Ratt’s LP. Should “You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll” have been the breakthrough LP for sister? I SAY YES! Another bad thing was the wimpy album cover used in the U.S. for it. Black background with pink block letters made it look like a PickWick budget LP. The UK/German version was way cooler with the cinnamon background color to bring out the steel TS logo. It looks like Back On Black in going to use the U.S. cover, which is fine with me since I don’t have it.
OK, “Come Out And Play”. The first thing I’m wondering is if Back On Black is going to do the Dee Snider pop-out sewer cover that was on first pressings of the American version? I think not. I know a lot of people thought that this is where Twisted Sister started to have a problem coming up with top notch material and sounds. Who cares what they think? The lead-off single was (no pun intended), “Leader Of The Pack” (a 1965 chart-topper for New York’s Shangri-Las) is the epitome of what Twisted Sister is all about.Fun, funny and cool…all at the same time. Anyone who takes Twisted Sister too seriously is a fool. It’s just happy, fun rock and roll…which is what rock and roll IS!!! I know that 1987’s “Love Is For Suckers” was a creative and sales disaster, but I love many of the songs on that album. The only drugs Twisted Sister ever took were double shots of coffee. They weren’t carrying around balloons of dope or bottles of booze. They were clean living family guys who played attitudial, kickass fun rock.
We should all just do what Dee’s been telling us to do for 30 years:
PLAY IT LOUD, MUTHA!
Ed. Note: Back On Black is not doing Twister Sister’s biggest and most well known 1984 album titled “Stay Hungry” and I totally respect them for it. This LP is easily available (even right here on vinyl.com) in remastered form with a 180 gram PINK VINYL and a 4 foot color poster on RhinoVinyl records…and it sounds great. There is also a 2CD with a bonus disc of like 12 unreleased tracks from the period.
In closing, all I can recommend is that you give the “You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll” LP another chance…put on headphones and let it RIP!!!
Late Note: 10 minutes ago, I just saw that Live At The Marquee is coming on Rhino. It was originally all the B-Sides of all their singles and E.P.’s (which of course I have all of them). Look for it…some are autographed by the band. For 30 years, I’ve always thought, “Hey, they should make a live LP out of all these B-sides…now 30 years later, it’s is actually going to happen.”