Sunday Old School: Twisted Sister
Band Photo: Twisted Sister (?)
Raised in Long Island, New York the band Twisted Sister started as a seventies local glam band that would evolve into one of the most important heavy metal bands of the eighties (eventually flip-flopping and becoming more heavy metal with a dash of glam, opposite of their initial vision).
Twisted Sister was originally formed in 1972 by Jay Jay French. The band went through several line-up changes until 1979 when it settled on Dee Snider (vocals), Jay Jay French (guitar), Eddie Ojeda (guitar), Mark Mendoza (bass), and A.J. Pero (drums). In 1979 the band self released two singles and then was signed by Secret Records in the UK. With Secret they would release an EP titled “Ruff Cuts” and their first studio album, “Under the Blade,” which quickly became an underground hit. The band would then sign with Atlantic Records and put out their second studio album, “You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll,” in 1983.
In 1984 Twisted Sister shocked the heavy metal world, releasing “Stay Hungry,” their contribution to an era that continues to define a decade. The album caught on with fans as well as government officials, organized as the P.R.M.C. (stands for the Parents Resource Music Center which is the least intimidating name I’ve ever heard). Twisted Sister was called out for their rebellious lyrics in the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” It was a strange group that included Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P., and Motley Crue as well as Madonna, Sheena Easton, and Prince. These proceedings eventually led to the “Explicit Material” or Tipper Sticker found on the cover of albums, cassettes, and CDs. After “Stay Hungry” the band would release the album “Come Out and Play” and then later, thought more of a Dee Snider solo project, the album “Love Is for Suckers” was released.
Looking back, it was the their third album, “Stay Hungry,” that broke out to a specific group of rebellious youth the way larger rock bands had appealed to the masses in past decades. Here’s a closer look at the tracks on Stay Hungry:
An energy filled first track filled with lyrics that are more uplifting than this band is often given credit for. This is directly related to Dee’s vocal delivery that easily turns a positive message into a horror movie. This is considered a strength.
WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT
The number one song of eighties rebellion; a special bonus for starting the “sing the chorus with only drums” trend (that would last through 1989).
BURN IN HELL
Creepy beginning that turns nasty by 1984 standards. How this song was used in the bands cameo in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure movie will always be a mystery to me.
HORROR-TERIA (The Beginning) CAPTAIN HOWDY/STREET JUSTICE
It was named like a Grindhouse double feature; it had the feel of a B-Movie soundtrack (in a good way) and sure enough, later would be the centerpiece for Dee Snider’s horror movie titled Stangeland.
I WANNA ROCK
One of the strongest first song-side two tracks of all time; also, the second greatest eighties rebellion song of all time. Along with “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” the song “I Wanna Rock” featured videos with the band. Essentially they are the same video. They show rebellion against authority by incorporating the use of Mark Metcalf (Neidermeyer from Animal House). A boy (around thirteen) is confronted by teacher/parent who doesn’t like Twisted Sister music. Wait long enough and the band will break through a door and scream their lyrics. They were angry and in your face. This was a band that was hurt by censorship.
The bands attempt at a ballad? This was never quite clear to me.
DON’T LET ME DOWN
Better than most songs considered “filler,” but on this album it’s clearly a notch below from the rest of the tracks.
When I first heard this song I was only ten years old. I didn’t sleep for two nights.
A call-out to their fans, “Sick Mother Fuckers,” brings the energy and really the whole album full circle.
In 2004 Twisted Sister re-released “Stay Hungry” and in 2006 the band put together a Christmas CD and Broadway show titled “A Twisted Christmas.” When the band isn’t reuniting for mini-tours and charity events you can often find lead singer Dee Snider on television where he has been in VH1 reality shows about country music as well as a full season of “Growing up Twisted,” following around his family on A&E.
For the youth of the eighties “Stay Hungry” was an introduction to rock music and rebellion. Twisted Sister wasn’t the first group of rock stars, but to many they always will be.
“We’re Not Gonna Take It”
“I Wanna Rock”
“Burn In Hell”
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