Sunday, February 12, 2012

REVIEW: "We're Not Going to Fake It": Review of TWISTED SISTER "Double Live" DVD

"We're Not Going to Fake It": Review of TWISTED SISTER Double Live DVD

Rating: 85%

TWISTED SISTER, 1980s (you had to be there)
I was a huge fan of the great New York City metal band TWISTED SISTER in 1984 following the release of their multi-platinum commercial breakthrough album Stay Hungry. I was 15-years-old in 1984 and this album was the soundtrack for my last two years of high-school. TWISTED SISTER spent many years slogging away in the bars and clubs of the tri-state area (New Jersey, New York State, Connecticut) before they went to England to record their debut album Under the Blade. No-one can say they did not deserve their success. Working hard, paying their dues, and respecting their fans were the band's business ethics. Like KISS, THE RAMONES, and BLONDIE, they had that typical brash and slightly vain New York City attitude, an attitude you need to have in New York City or you will just be forever ignored and forgotten. Like many New Yorkers this was balanced by real humility, real inner strength, and a street-based code-of-honour that you can see in bands like BIOHAZARD and NY Hardcore.

I must be careful reviewing this DVD as it touches on a sensitive topic: the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York City. We have many Indonesian readers here so I will carefully outline my politics: I'm left-wing and anti-war. I don't support 9-11 and I don't support the Iraq or Afghanistan wars either. Don't shoot each other, headbang down the front at the metal shows! I agree with Man JASAD's banner "Peace, do not fight each other, motherf****er" at his one-man protest at the court trial for PETERPAN singer "Ariel" (Nazril Irham). I think Man captured the "Bandung spirit" from the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference of the Non-Aligned Nations who were neither for the USA nor for the Soviet Union.

I mention these matters because CD2 of this TWISTED SISTER set shows the band's concert at New York Steel in 2001 where they headlined a bill of ANTHRAX, OVERKILL, ACE FREHLEY BAND, and SEBASTIAN BACH. All of these bands are from either New York City itself (ANTHRAX, ACE FREHLEY) or from the tristate area (OVERKILL) with the exception of the Canadian singer SEBASTIAN BACH. The show was in honour of the New York Police & Fire Widows' & Children's Benefit Fund.

TWISTED SISTER was invited to reform for this special concert in honour of the victims, firefighters, and police personnel involved in 9-11. They had not played together for 13 years and their reunion was the highlight of the show. Disc 2 of this set shows the complete TWISTED SISTER performance and is followed by band interviews where the members reflect on what 9-11 meant to them personally as New Yorkers. This is a metal DVD of huge social significance. Maybe we have not seen metal this socially relevant since SCORPIONS played "Wind of Change" and SEPULTURA sang about poverty and corruption in Brazil.

The band plays in front of a dedicated audience of old-time and old-school fans. If you look at the crowd it is 99% white guys aged over 30 so yes I would have fitted in perfectly. The band wears street clothes and all have shortish hair except for the brilliant and charismatic vocalist Dee Snider. They look like just ordinary guys who walked off the street which is actually what they were as they had all left the music industry and had not played together for 13 years. Dee finds it hard getting into the groove early and no-one seems to know how to react to such an 1980s band playing their 1980s songs in the year 2001. The set starts slowly but by the time the classics from Stay Hungry are reached, such as "Stay Hungry" and "Burn in Hell", the band's chemistry fires up and we are transported back to those glory days of the 1980s before mobile phones, internet, sub-genres, church burnings in Norway, death-growl vocals, metalcore, Slipknot, and Cradle. Metal was just metal in those simpler times. Dee addresses the crowd telling them how angry they were after 9-11 and Dee shows the "F*** Osama" scrawled on the back of his jacket. Songs such as "Burn in Hell", "Stay Hungry", and "Shoot Em Down" take on new meaning just after 9-11 for confused, angry, and depressed New Yorkers. Since most SISTER songs were encouragement to metalheads or attacks on an unnamed enemy they all work very well in this post-9-11 setting. The band then performs its huge hits from the Stay Hungry album: the brilliant "I Wanna Rock" and "We're Not Gonna' Take It" and the performance by now is charged and brilliant and everyone is in the swing of it. For encore we get amazing ballad "The Price" (which surprised fans in 1984 and showed the band's ability to diversify its sound). The lyrics about committing one's life to metal and authenticity and struggle are also very appropriate for post 9-11. The last song is rocker "SMF" also from Stay Hungry. "The Price" plays as background music as we watch people leave the venue from an overhead camera. The crowd is totally relaxed, peaceful, and happy despite the "inflammatory" performance from that "too aggressive" band TWISTED SISTER.

The main highlight for me is the fact that all the original line-up reunited for the show. Very often one or two members go missing in reunions and so we don't get the real deal. Here we have the great line-up of: Dee Snider (Vocals), Mark "The Animal" Mendoza (bass), Eddie "Fingers" Ojeda (guitar), Jay Jay French (guitar), and A. J. Pero (drums). The crowd loves it as Dee introduces these mighty metal warriors one by one.

Next is the interview section where each member individually talks about the reunion and about 9-11. This is excellent and these are very normal and very humble guys who are not part of the music industry anymore. A. J. Pero has a daughter in the eighth grade. Jay Jay French lives in Manhattan. They are very intelligent and strong communicators. Too many rock musicians only can repeat "yeah, man" and "cool, man" at interviews and it is just not interesting. Here Mark Mendoza talks about not wanting to reunite and despising Dee Snider but how the idea of the benefit show convinced him because of the higher purpose. "Fingers" Ojeda talks of how his nephew and sister-in-law were working on the lower floors of the World Trade Centre and escaped unharmed. People speak of how Mendoza brought a gun to band rehearsal because his earlier relationship with Dee Snider had been so bad. Dee Snider speaks of his anger at the very stupid decision not to allow TWISTED SISTER to play the main big benefit concert at Madison Square Gardens because the band was said to be "too aggressive" and "inflammatory". A. J. Pero says he knew of six people who died in the 9-11 attacks. Jay Jay French concludes by saying the event makes him grateful for life and he lives each day as though it could be his last. "Fingers" Ojeda says with the reunion show "something bad came out of something good". I was very impressed by these guys' discussions and attitudes - very metal, very humble, very insightful, and very New York City.

The first CD in this set is of a club show at North Stage Theatre in 1982.

I strongly recommend this DVD. The set list at the New York Steel show in 2001 was as follows: 1 What You Don't Know (Sure Can Hurt You) 2 The Kids Are Back 3 Stay Hungry 4 Burn in Hell 5 You Can't Stop Rock'n'Roll 6 Under the Blade 7 Shoot Em Down 8 Come Back 9 You Know I Cry 10 I Wanna Rock 11 We're Not Gonna' Take it 12 The Price (encore) 13 SMF (encore).

By Jack Frost, 13 February 2012.

TWISTED SISTER page on Wikipedia:
NEW YORK STEEL page on Wikipedia:
TWISTED SISTER Official Website:

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