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Did you know that Celine Dion once recorded a Dee Snider song? Pretty hard to believe isn’t it? Let me explain. It was actually a Christmas song. But the point is that it was a very good song. And as this album amply demonstrates – Dee Snider is a very good songwriter.
Twisted Sister is a bit like W.A.S.P. in the sense that they’re a branded band. To some people W.A.S.P. will always be all shock and Twisted Sister all glam. But both have more to offer. W.A.S.P. got interesting when things got darker. Twisted Sister were never as interested in darkness, as they were in just taking you there – wherever there happened to be. In that respect – ‘Still Hungry’ is a bit of a return trip.
So the band decided to re-record their massive breakthrough album and chuck on almost as many awesome bonus tracks. Welcome to heavy metal dreamland people. I can understand why purists prefer the original, but maybe I was just lucky to hear this one first.
If you don’t know “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock”, please don’t get out from that rock you’re under. Decades later both still stand as text book anthems. The music pumps. The lyrics dump. And this fresh recording turns the volume and clarity way up. Forget spit and polish. This is holy grail stuff.
And the anthems don’t stop there. Take your pick: “Stay Hungry”, “Rock 'N' Roll Saviors”, “Blastin' Fast and Loud”, “S.M.F.” – all live and breathe fist in the air, shouted choruses and a solo as catchy as the stuff with words. But truth be told – even if Dee Snider can be said to have perfected the metal anthem – it’s a reputation that’s unfortunately overshadowed his very real talent and versatility as a songwriter.
What I’m taking about is someone that can pull hooks out of the air and keep the verses as catchy as a chorus you don’t see coming. A song like “Burn In Hell” usually passes for a slowed down and over dark anthem. But look again at that near doom riffing and near melodeath chorus. “Horror Teria” on the other hand hardly needs an explanation. You get eight minutes plus of music theatre melodrama injected with a prog metal tirade. Talk about more than one string to your bow.
Then on “Come Back” you suddenly wander into double kick and power metal soaring. Which is exactly how “You Know I Cry” dishes out the dirt on heartbreak. And as for “Heroes Are Hard To Find” – well remember what I said about perfecting the anthem? This time around it’s the big movie soundtrack number that’s set in stone. The verses do the build up thing and the chorus is an entire mountain range of pure eighties hard rock.
But absolutely everything above is practically filler territory compared to one other song on the album. It’s called “The Price”. This one single-handedly stamps Dee Snider as capable of something few have matched. We’re talking one of the greatest songs ever written. Yeah that’s a big call, but this song matters. The words are about struggle and fears and the human spirit – and the hook is a slowed down scream in the face of life. Enough said.
Let me finish by going back to the Twisted Sister/W.A.S.P. comparison. In some ways I wish Dee Snider had the same visions of grandeur that Blackie Lawless has. I am a fan of Blackie, but Snider is as good a songwriter. Maybe better. But he never managed to shake himself out of a traditional metal strait jacket.
Oh and while we’re on little known facts about this band; here’s one last one. Have a listen to an old Christmas Carol called “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”. Then have a listen to “We’re Not gonna Take it”. Again, enough said.