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Ah, Twisted Sister; you outrageously goofy and pompous, yet hilariously and charmingly entertaining explosion of a band. You're more than what they call "glam metal", you're one of those bands that has the trappings of a glam band, but is actually fun to listen to due to your redeeming qualities. Gruff and abrasive vocals, lyrics that relate to things other than love or sex, and a general knowledge that your appearance is not to be taken too seriously (as many glam fans have, unfortunately). Although "Stay Hungry" was the album that put Twisted Sister on the map (and rustled the feathers of some prudish politicians), it's an excellent example of the band's potential, and you don't have to take them so seriously to enjoy them.
Even though the band members' looks are utterly ridiculous to the nth degree, some of the lyrical themes can be more serious. The band's ballad, "The Price", rather than go for the go-to standard of love or breakups, has a lyrical theme of life and the hardships that come with it. It's a more serious ballad, rather than some insipid puppy love song that Bon Jovi would come up with, and that makes it one of the only (if not the only) power ballad that's actually worth listening to. The only reason why it's not as goofy as the other ones is 'cos it's a ballad, therefore it's somewhat easier to relate to some people, as it is more down-to-earth. We also get the theme of horror, like in "Horror-Teria: The Beginning (A) Captain Howdy, B) Street Justice)". There, the "Captain Howdy" part plays out like a cautionary tale about stranger danger and serial killers. There's also "The Beast", which is about, well, a beast. Or, not just any beast, but a terrifying beast ready to eat you right up. The lyrics are actually just as goofy as the band's looks, making it fun to listen to, as opposed to "The Price", ironically the most serious thing ever to be written by a band known for their singer putting at least 2 inches of makeup on his face.
What makes Twisted Sister more fun is the sheer cheesiness of some of the songs. Sure, the all-time classic hit "We're Not Gonna Take It" has the same melody in both the verse and the chorus (and even the solo), but the goofy lyrics related to rebellion are so over-the-top and hilarious, that the song is actually fun to listen to. It's like watching a movie with lousy special effects that's so bad, you can't help but laugh at it. That's kind of what we're hearing here. Don't forget the music videos in which the teacher/dad gets humiliation conga either from the band, or from his futile attempts to get rid of them, but I feel that the songs speak for themselves already. Of course they're hilarious, but the music itself is enough to put a smile on my face. It's not just the classics that fall into the camp category, either, there's also "Burn in Hell". The lyrics sound a little religious, but come on, this is Twisted Sister we're talkin' here. The lyrics are just so overdone and laughable, that it's really hard to take them seriously. How can you hear such lyrics as "There's just five words to say as you go down, down, down; you're gonna burn in hell" and keep a straight face? It's almost impossible to do!
There's actually other factors that make Twisted Sister stand out from the typical "hair metal" band, and that's mainly due to the voice of the band member that looks the most ridiculous, Dee Snider himself. If you see someone with makeup, hair and outfit that would make Nikki Sixx look like Cliff Burton, you'd imagine him to have a ridiculously annoying voice, like that of Vince Niel or Mark Slaughter (don't Google him, seriously). That's not the case here. Dee has a more gruff and growling voice that carries the swagger (and the hilariousness) of the music's subject matter. His vocal delivery in "The Beast" in particular, consists of this low and tough-sounding power, suggesting the ferocity and the toughness of the titular beast and the futility of facing it. The title track is also a bit of a surprise, since it's really fast-paced and aggressive. I'm not kidding, either. The song actually has a more rapid tempo that is not normally found on typical glam metal songs. It's got kind of a sing-along chorus, there's that, but man, do you think White Lion would use a song of that tempo, one that would normally make them dive under their beds crying with their mascara running in fear? I don't think so!
They've got some insanely dumb looks, they've got some insanely dumb lyrics, and they've got some songs which can also be categorized as insanely dumb, but that's what makes Twisted Sister awesome. Let me put it this way, listening to them is like watching Nicolas Cage's acting in a movie. It's just so over-the-top, it's just so corny and comical, you can't help but smile. In fact, I think that's the reason why they got popular in the first place. It's not 'cos of the fact that they wrote catchy music, it's 'cos of the fact that they wrote catchy music that's so overdone, it's actually good. Of course, it would be this album that would land Dee Snider against the infamous PMRC, who pick these guys whose lyrics are actually tame, while giving the more usual suspects like Slayer a free pass. It would also land the band into superstardom, and thus the Atlantic Records wanting them to release more "wholesome" material, like the much-abhorred "Love is for Suckers" album.
Twisted Sister are legends. And this is not without reason. Had it only been because of their outfits, bands like Stryper or Tigertailz would have gotten just as big but they didn’t. So besides the image there must have been something about their music as well. And indeed there is.
We’re talking here about the ultimate Twister Sister album. The album which combined all styles the band ever stood for. Up tempo metal songs, a ballad, sleazy sing-a-longs, pounders, fistbangers. Everything is here and not even Manowar have come this close to releasing an album so complete with everything eighties rock.
For the metal minded people we have the up tempo opener and title track “Stay Hungry” which has a great vocal performance by Dee Snider and a memorable catchy yet non-cheesy chorus. Another true metal highlight is the song “Burn In Hell” which combines up tempo metal with a great eerie doomy intro. The fast song “Don’t Let Me Down” is a simple song but the melodies and vocal lines make it more than memorable and the song has a certain beauty to it.
The two classic hard rocking sing-a-longs “We're Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” did not only have the most ultimate rock videos from the eighties but in fact are also two of the best rocking songs from the eighties. Once you’ve heard them, you will never forget them.
“The Beast” is a slow pounding song and once again extremely catchy (especially the massive chorus riff). “SMF” is a great tribute to their die-hard fan base and the epic “Captain Howdy/Street Justice” features some nice creepy lyrics. Furthermore I must of course mention the ballad “The Price” which I’ve always liked. Dee Snider’s performance is really outstanding here, preventing the song from getting too cheesy.
There is absolutely nothing for me to complain concerning “Stay Hungry”. It represents the best of Twister Sister and is a milestone in eighties history combining metal and rock so perfectly. Since there can never be ‘the’ perfect album and I consider this ‘a’ perfect album I will of course honour it by giving 99 points.