Twisted Sister – Live at the Marquee Club (CD review)

Twisted Sister – Live at the Marquee Club (Rhino Handmade) CD review

Before they became enemies of Tipper Gore, a young band kickin’ some ass

Video has a way of ruining rock n’ roll.  You can’t think of Twisted Sister without memories of the golden mane and war paint makeup of singer Dee Snider, and those goofy videos featuring actor Mark Metcalf from Animal House.  It’s a shame, really, because before they were darlings of MTV, this quintet from Long Island was one hell of a hard rockin’ band.  Rhino Handmade has just unearthed Live at the Marquee Club, culled from back to back nights at the legendary London venue in March of 1983.

Some of these tracks were originally available on various EP’s and 12 inches back in the day, but have been out of print for years.  Plus, eight tracks here have never seen the light of day (although three of those “tracks” are actually stage banter).

The UK-based Secret records, known more for their punk releases, originally put out their debut album, Under the Blade.  And, it’s no wonder – Twisted Sister shows that they can hang with their punk counterparts, especially on the break-neck “Tear it Loose.”  Eight of the 13 songs from this concert come from that debut, as their follow up, You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll, would still be months away from release.  There is a charm in hearing Snyder announce that “we have signed a deal with the biggest, greatest, meanest fucking record company in the world, Atlantic Records.  We are now brothers with such greats as AC/DC and such.”

There is a go-for-broke, wide-open energy to these recordings – these guys are hungry and out to prove that they can hang with the big boys.  In addition to their originals, they run through three cover tunes – an early stab at “Leader of the Pack,” which the band would revisit as a single in 1985; a highly unnecessary nine-minute version of the Stones’ “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll;” and a balls-out rendition of “Let the Good Times Roll.”  The set comes in a heavy cardboard sleeve, die cut in the shape of the classic Twisted Sister logo, and features fanatical liner notes from UK metal writer Malcolm Dome.  Live at the Marquee Club is a rare look at a band just beginning to hit its stride.  It also gives reason to forget all those videos and just crank up the tunes.  –Tony Peters