Sunday, October 23, 2011

#10 Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry: What Do You Wanna Do With Your Life

ROCKTOBERFEST: A Most Excellent Countdown of the 31 Most Bitchin Glam Metal Albums

#10 Twisted Sister– Stay Hungry (Released 1984 ) 3x Platinum #15 Billboard Albums

Dee Snider (Pink Caveman)– Vocals 

Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda (Red Caveman) – Lead & Rhythm Guitar

Jay Jay French (Yellow Caveman) – Rhythm & Lead Guitar 

Mark “The Animal” Mendoza (Green Caveman) - Bass

A.J. Pero (Blue Caveman) – Drums

What Do You Want To Do With Your Life? 

Everyone’s favorite rabble-rousers rise up to take #10 spot with their MONSTER album, Stay Hungry. Twisted Sister has a unique history in the place of glam metal. They are among the few bands that did not emanate from the Sunset Strip, in fact they were not even from the West Coast. They were from New York City, home of the CGGB, Mecca of Punk Rock and New Wave. This gave Twisted Sister a different perspective than most of the decadent glam bands. Their songs are less concerned with rampant sex and drug abuse (actually none of the songs on this album are about sex and drug abuse, how positively UN-GLAM). Rather, the songs are designed to promote individuality, self-confidence, fighting against the man, and striving to achieve your dreams. This is what makes it so absolutely ridiculous that Twisted Sister was the band with biggest target on its back courtesy of Tipper Gore and her PMRC. Out of all the glam bands, Twisted Sister’s messages are the most positive and most uplifting. Unfortunately, these Sick Motherfuckers were at the absolute peak of popularity at the inception of the PMRC and were the face of mainstream heavy metal. It just so happens, that Dee Snider is probably the most intelligent man in heavy metal and was up for the task of ripping the PMRC to shreds in a very logical fashion. One of my favorite highlights from the congressional session is when Dee remarks, “Mr. Gore, your wife made allegations that my song, Under The Blade, contains sadomasochistic themes. I have always believed that each person has the right to interpret the lyrics as they see fit. Well that particular song is about my guitarist’s tonsil operation. Maybe it your wife with a twisted, sick mind.” That is a SHUT-DOWN if I have ever heard one. Here’s the Dee discussing the whole ordeal:

So how about the music, well, on Wikipedia they have stated that Twisted Sister is “Sex Pistols meets Slade”. Which I disagree, vehemently, yes the punk influences exist on the lyrics, but this is a HEAVY METAL band. Twisted Sister is definitely one of the most metallic, heavy bands of the glam era and more closely related to Judas Priest than any of the other bands mentioned. Yes, the glam rock influences are seen in the image (though that is more of a result of shock rock than glam rock) and the anthemic nature of their songs. Dee Snider and his band live and breath heavy metal, but they come equipped with a sense of humor, which is why so many people miss out on one of the best METAL bands out there. Tracks like Burn In Hell, Stay Hungry, Under The Blade, You Cant Stop Rock N Roll are tremendous metal burners that are just as metal as anything Priest has ever produced. Hell there first two albums were disqualified for consideration because they are NOT glam metal albums, but HEAVY metal albums. Of course, Twisted Sister had the audacity to want to be rockstars and you know have fun, so they have been passed over by many modern metal fans as a poseur band. Twisted Sister is a very unique glam band that stuck more closely to lyrical themes you would find on a punk rock, Sabbath or Maiden album and much more metallic than the later glam bands. 

So Twisted Sister of course has two song that have transcended generations in the form of I Wanna Rock and We’re Not Gonna Take It. (One of my favorite Onion headlines read, "After 25 years, Twisted Sister has finally agreed to take it.") These are probably the two most famous glam metal songs of all time. These songs were apart of that original downloaded setlist from when I was a kid. I have enjoyed them immensely over the past 14 years. I Wanna Rock still makes me head-bang almost instantaneously and We’re Not Gonna Take It always rejuvenates me. The videos are absolute achievements of camp. The I Wanna Rock video features hilarious ways of torturing a teacher after humiliating a Sick Motherfucking Fan of Twisted Sister. However, I can see how these cheesy, outrageous visual productions turned the band into a joke that delved into self-parody. This is of course, something I struggle with everyday, how to be outrageous and cheesy, but still remain edgy and never fall into the dreaded state of self-parody. Trust me, edgy and cheesy is a tough combination to achieve, but I sure as hell think I do pretty damn good job. However, the Three Stooges routine by Twisted Sister may have made them a popular act, but it negatively impacted the band’s longevity. 

The next album sold very poorly due to this problem and directional issues. The band continued to want to be a metal band, but the record company sought for a more mainstream sound. Leading to the horribly misinterpreted, Be Chrool to Your Scuel, a duet with fellow shock rocker, Alice Cooper. This is not a very good song to begin with and the title is not exactly very conducive to being well-received by parents. The video was also banned from MTV due to some pretty graphic imagery. The band attempting to re-capture their lost bad-assery attempted to do a sort of campy zombie invasion of a school, which was not supposed to be taken seriously, but it also was not funny. I have no idea who the fuck it was intended to entertain. I mean I hear teenage boys are into gross shit, but this was just so over-the-top that it sucked the meat missile. Now more up my alley was their cover of The Shangri-Las’ “Leader of The Pack”, a girl-pop group from the mid-60’s. See I understand the humor of the tough biker gang doing a cover of this song because it emasculates band in an amusing way. My problem with this is that this brand of entertainment is lost on many mainstream Americans, which just sees it as a candy-ass song. This is an effective technique that many pro wrestling heels utilize in order to get heat from the crowd (heels are bad guys, heat is crowd reaction). Bret “The Hitman” Hart said he wore pink at the beginning of his career because it was the color that got the most heat. While I enjoy these juxtaposition of tough and glam, I realize I am quite unique because the outrageousness of glam metal and pro wrestling is lost on most people. So Dee, nice try, but this was just not a good choice.

So when did I start reviewing bad albums. The last two choice cuts will be Burn In Hell  and the title track. Short time schedule, so I am just going to write quickly on these two songs. I absolutely love the lyrics of Stay Hungry, not because they are sleazy or entertaining. It is because those lyrics best encapsulate my perspective on life. I believe that apathy and complacency are two greatest sins a human can commit. I said in the manifesto of this blog that I believe that self-improvement is the purpose of life. This song epitomizes that philosophy. Burn In Hell is my favorite Twisted Sister song. The chorus is catchy and the riff is a heavy, pulsating attack. Plus how can you be a heavy metal band without a song about hell or Satan. 

Dee Snider can still be heard on radio syndication, on House of Hair. The tagline is IF AINT METAL ISNT CRAP. One of my favorite gems on the show includes, “Welcome to my house, where all the dudes look like women”. Dee does a pretty good job mixing up glam metal, thrash metal (Megadeth and Metallica have been played) and traditional heavy metal (Priest, Maiden and Dio). I definitely recommend it and just like I recommend the whole album not just the two songs everyone knows. Here’s Street Justice another favorite off the album.            

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