3 disc CD containing: You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll, Come Out and Play and Love is For Suckers
I first saw Twisted Sister when they were touring for You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll in the summer of 1983. The scene was a small club with less than 100 people. Queensryche was the opening act. The show stands today as one of the most memorable ones I’ve ever attended. I had picked up You Can’t Stop…. the day of the show and it refused to come off my turntable for weeks after that.
Twisted Sister are a curious lot. In some quarters they are regarded as a novelty act, buoyed by outrageous makeup and clothes, not mention over-the-top videos. However for me and the other SMFs out there, they are considered a hugely under-rated band with great musicians, some excellent songs and a live show that is unmatched. The fact that audiences are still clamoring for Dee Snider, Jay Jay French, Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda, Mark “The Animal” Mendoza and A.J. Pero is both a testament to their abilities to bring it live and also to write songs that connect with people.
Ask the average person about a Twisted record and they will undoubtedly cite Stay Hungry and the massive single “We’re Not Going to Take It”. Those are great records for sure but there was much more to Twisted Sister than that. Armoury Records has recently released a re-issue CD containing their debut major label disc You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll, Come Out and Play and Love is For Suckers. Play this set from beginning to end and you can’t help but be impressed by these New Yorkers.
“The Kids are Back” kicks off the first disc and you’re quickly won over by the outstanding vocals of Dee Snider. The biker anthem “Ride to Live, Live to Ride”, “I Am (I’m Me)” and the wickedly good “Knife in the Back” are also all excellent songs. However, my money goes with the dark and deadly title track as the one that stands out. I am instantly taken back to that club and the way the band absolutely destroyed the stage whenever I hear that one. Also included are the three bonus songs that were first presented on the re-issue of that record a few years back.
Come Out and Play had the unenviable task of following up the mammoth success of Stay Hungry. It worked. Sort of. While the videos “Leader of the Pack” and “Be Chrool to Your Scuel” brought more kiddies into the fold, some of the long-time fans were alienated by the poppier approach that was being brought into the mix. My favorite track on the record is “The Fire Still Burns”. Dee sounds great and the band is cooking on all cylinders. Tied with that is the impressive “I Believe in You”, a great follow-up to “The Price” from Stay Hungry, where Dee shows he can compete with anyone. This disc includes a bonus track called “King of the Fools”, a terrific song that was originally on the cassette release and the re-issue.
The final Twisted record is Love is For Suckers which drove the stake through the band’s heart, although the seeds of the demise were planted earlier. Reportedly this was supposed to be a Dee Snider solo disc but the record company asked for it to be a band project. One major change for the band occurred with this record when A.J. Pero left and Joey Franco (ex-The Good Rats) took his place. Despite the fact some of the songs are decidedly more radio-friendly, in many ways I prefer Love is For Suckers to Come Out and Play. It’s not the Twisted Sister of 1982-3 but this is still a solid record with songs like “Wake Up (the Sleeping Giant)” and “Yeah Right” leading the way. And even if you’re a old-time Twisted fan and you like the heavier stuff, you have to admit that “Hot Love” is a great song.
Undoubtedly most fans have these records already but it’s great to have them all in one set. Or maybe you can give those who are unfamiliar with one of the great American hard rock bands, an early Christmas present. Cuz everybody needs a little Twisted in their day.