by Ray Van Horn/Global Music, courtesy AMP magazine
Fitting that TWISTED SISTER should provide a live documentation of one of their recent reunion gigs captured in Great Britain. In case you’re unaware of TWISTED SISTER’s long-ago history, the glam-based power rockers could hardly bend a dime in the United States to score a record deal despite being kings of Long Island and the surrounding New York and New Jersey territories. Despite being looked at by record execs in their up-and-coming club days, TWISTED SISTER was passed upon numerous times, thus forcing them across the pond to the UK where they scored their elusive deal on the Secret label (also famous for breaking hardcore legends THE EXPLOITED) to release their vital Under the Blade album.
Thus TWISTED SISTER is loosely regarded as a New Wave of British Heavy Metal band, having come up through the ranks alongside SAXON, IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST. As TWISTED SISTER milked the snot out of British music television shows and haunted various UK amphitheatres and rock clubs, it would only take a couple of short years before Atlantic Records gobbled them up and sucked them into the party-hearty LA metal scene. Come their breakout Stay Hungry record, TWISTED SISTER became trashcan icons made popular by comic relief music videos, outrageous stage garb and a band unafraid to bark “Fuck you!” at their detractors, much less turncoat SMF’ers (if you don’t know what the acronym stands for, you’re not metal enough) who quickly bounced on them upon the release of Come Out and Play and Love is for Suckers. Unfortunately, said rejection by a metal public whom Dee Snider defended against the dreaded PMRC inevitably instigated f-bombs amongst the band members, thus prompting an 18-year estrangement.
Now with fences mended and a fair amount of road wear crackling beneath their dolls-from-hell facades, TWISTED SISTER in 2007 were on fire, as evidenced by Live at The Astoria. It’s terrific that TWISTED SISTER issues a hearty thank you to the British fans who first embraced them beyond the beer-swilling Yonkers crowds. In turn, Dee Snider and the boys belt out a hefty portion of early catalog classics from Under the Blade and You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n Roll, along with all of the familiars from Stay Hungry and a deuce from Come Out and Play, the title track and “The Fire Still Burns.”
The latter tune might as well be considered be considered TWISTED SISTER’s anthem for a new day of life, because the set spotlighted in Live at The Astoria is full of glorious piss and vinegar. Dee Snider’s exuberant thrashing around onstage is matched by his constantly tossed curls and his roughneck crowd better, all of which is devoured ravenously by the British faithful. Mark “The Animal” Mendoza wallops his bass as if spanking a generous handful of ass, while Jay Jay French and Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda prowl about and play their parts in a relaxed candor, even though French takes a moment or two to jaw with the crowd about the band’s past, namely how their exodus to England was a make or break endeavor that might’ve cost them a career had they not broken out.
As A.J. Pero keeps the set’s pulse steady, TWISTED SISTER aggressively nails “Shoot ‘Em Down,” “Like a Knife in the Back,” “Ride to Live” and “The Kids Are Back” while tossing out the standard hits “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” with the usual interactive crowd-pleasing aplomb. Nice to see that “The Price” still holds its own candle in this band as it’s one of the most significant cuts TWISTED SISTER ever recorded. Delivering it to a country that threw them their first true lifeline assuredly made it all worth it to carry on, as Dee would no doubt croon reverently…