Monday, December 24, 2007

Stevie Nicks 'Crystal Visions - The Very Best of Stevie Nicks'

Ronie Alexander handed me a DVD back in the spring that she thought I’d be interested adding to my collection. To be honest, I wasn’t all that interested and boy was I wrong.

The DVD was Twisted Sister The Video Years.

Growing up in the late seventies and early eighties… I was strictly a fan of hard rock. Bands had to have loud distorted guitars, sang about sexuality with misogynist overtones, and if they blew stuff up… Well, that was just icing on the cake.

And during my years in junior and senior high… I had a knack of predicting what bands would rise to stardom. I predicted with great accuracy the rise of Motley Crue, Def Leppard, and countless others that I didn’t like (Bon Jovi and Poison immediately come to mind).

I was the first person that turned everyone I knew onto Motley Crue’s first LP ‘Too Fast For Love’. My prediction was that the Crue would make their mark with their second release and by the third… They’d be household names.

I remember first seeing Twisted Sister’s ‘Under The Blade’ LP at the Record Bar at Friendly Center. It was a little more expensive because it was an import. But I spent the money on it anyway after reading about their supercharged live performances. I wasn’t all that afraid of their “drag queen” looks… I mean, after all… I already had a New York Dolls LP in my collection (The Dolls were KISS’ big New York City competition and I had to check them out).

I was blown away by how loud they sounded on my cheap little stereo that got no rest for 8 years. In the liner notes, Twisted Sister had a simple demand for listening to their LP… “Play it LOUD, mutha!” I chose to use headphones instead of annoying my parents and siblings.

Their music was simple with rock cheerleading lyrics… The Twisted Sister blueprint involves a lot of anthem-type of hard rock. I enjoyed that first album, but I figured that they were too simple for mass appeal. And besides, some people just can’t get over the “drag queen” appearance. They just wouldn’t get the “entertainment” value of costuming and appearing as if they are indeed twisted sisters.

When they released ‘You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll’, their second album that was released in the states… I knew that they had the chance for mass appeal. The musical hooks were more acceptable and they had the intensity of punk rock bands or Motorhead. They just had an extra element… Melody. The masses like melody.

I remember taking the LP to school to let my friends borrow it. People were looking at them and second guessing my sexuality or common sense. Perhaps even both were in question. I also remember telling my friends that Twisted Sister’s next release would be their breakthrough album.

I didn’t see them on that tour because they were touring with Quiet Riot. I didn’t care about seeing QR and it also seemed like there was a greater reason as to why I couldn’t go, but I can’t recall that reason.

Twisted Sister released ‘Stay Hungry’ without much fanfare. I bought the LP the day it was released and my buddy Jonathan Everett purchased the cassette tape too. It was okay in my book, but the songs were just a little too poppy for my tastes. But I knew it would propel them to stardom and their videos did just that.

I saw them open up for Iron Maiden before they started headlining on their ‘Stay Hungry’ tour. Everything that I had read about their live performances were true. They came out on the stage and started punching you in the face and gut. They assaulted you with their sound and if that wouldn’t finish you off… Dee Snider would call you every name in the book that had an “F” in it. He was an awesome front man and they had my respect. They carved a TS logo on the backside of my heart that I ended up hiding from the world because my prediction was right about them.

They were the commercial darlings of hard rock and I knew they were going to try to capitalize on that. They released the biggest mistake of their careers with the LP ‘Come Out And Play’ with the worst possible cover song ever… “Leader Of The Pack”.

I listened to that album only once and I haven’t touched it since. Their career took the nose dive that I had predicted.

When they released ‘Love Is For Suckers’, it was too late. The public wanted to forget about Twisted Sister and that was too bad. ‘Love Is For Suckers’ was the best album they ever put out! The Sisters were back to form. No one cared but me and the other few thousands that purchased that doomed yet exceptional LP.

So when I finally watched that DVD over the weekend… I made sure to watch the introductions by the band members themselves along with certain record label executives. It was all very interesting and enlightening.

Earlier today, I thanked Ronie for giving me that DVD. And despite their simple anthem hard rock, musicianship slightly above the abilities of Poison, and Dee Snider’s “I-just-learned-a-word-from-the-dictionary-and-I’ll-use-it-in-song” mentality… I will honestly say that I am a Twisted Sister fan.

Their Behind The Music episode is a great place to start and then check out the DVD I spoke about.

The one thing I know… Much to my sister Pam’s chagrin, my nearly 5 year old niece Chloe loves them. She watched a lot of the DVD with me.

For those of you interested in downloading some good Twisted Sister tunes to get you started… I will suggest these 10.

“Run For Your Life”
“One Bad Habit”
“Tear It Loose”
“Shoot ‘Em Down”
“The Kids Are Back”
“It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)” the rare live 12” version
“You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll”
“The Price”
“I’m So Hot For You”


  1. Anonymous1:37 PM

    My first concert ever...... Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister. Very memorable to say the least. I am thinking I was in 7th or 8th grade? What was my mother thinking?

  2. I've never heard it, but their cover of "Leader of the Pack," on paper at least, isn't a terrible idea. New York Dolls did similar things - hell, they had Shadow Morton produce their second album, afterall. Innocence and sleeze are a great combination.