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You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll was one of the very first heavy metal albums I had bought. I purchased it on cassette and along with Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil it made me realise there was more to rock music than just Kiss.
Being of a very impressionable age when I bought the tape the lyrical message hit home with its full impact. You’re Not Alone, I’ve Had Enough and I Am (I’m Me) made me feel that in Dee Snider and company I had cohorts that knew what I was going through in my youth. I did feel alone, my friends I didn’t really like and the ones that I could hang out with never understood my love of rock music. It was a tough time but when I put on tracks like We’re Gonna Make It I knew that I could get through it all. Of course like the majority of young teens, I did. I outgrew the acne and I did eventually find myself a girl or two.
This was Twisted Sister’s first outing on a major label; they had signed to Atlantic Records and produced an LP that cut the occasional speed metal riffs that had appeared on their previous independent release Under The Blade. You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll was a wholly more mid tempo record, full of more impressive hooks, larger anthemic choruses and a much firmer, solid production. Still, the label didn’t back the album totally and the band failed to break through until they released Stay Hungry a year later. At that point Atlantic realised that they had a cash cow on their hands, a band that could compete with Ratt and maybe even Def Leppard.
This album has all the makings of a classic but unfortunately bogs itself down with a couple of half-hearted filler tracks. I’ll Take You Alive is your standard early 80’s ego rock fare with little in the way of anything other than macho meat head posturing and as for The Power And The Glory (which Iron Maiden owe a debt to for their opening bass patterns with their Stranger In A Strange Land track), it’s simply not even fit for a b side.
Except for these two thorns the album is very much a classic. Ride To Live, Live To Ride is a great biking anthem, although how this relates to me and my Vespa PX125 is anybody’s guess. I Am (I’m Me) was an obvious single choice and every bit as brilliant as the likes of Motley Crue, Kiss or proper metal bands like Judas Priest could muster. Many a moment I spent trying to explain to my rock buddies in the latter part of the 80’s just how amazing this song was. I always included it on mix tapes and yet it almost always was spurned. My friends preferred Bad English, Queensryche and even Skid Row. Just utter morons, what can I say? The hit to shit ratio here is good enough to warrant further investigation into the band and that’s exactly what happened with me. If you don’t already know the band then I’m am pretty sure this record will do the same for you.
This is the album where Twisted Sister really settled into the sound that would make them famous on Stay Hungry. The delightful speed metal numbers from Under the Blade are pretty much gone, replaced by more of the mid-paced hard rock tunes that the band were so good at cranking out in the early 80’s. Essentially, this is Twisted Sister’s Point of Entry. But while the up-tempo madness is gone, their ballsy attitude (the other thing that made Under the Blade so good) remains, powering this release out of mediocrity and making it a fair purchase for fans of 80s pop metal.
The formula is pretty simple on here, mostly consisting of straightforward anthems akin to Motley Crue and Ratt, but without the cheesy glam rock veneer. There are no complex arrangements or instrumental acrobatics. Just hard rock Twisted Sister style. As one would suspect, the riffs are simple and catchy, as are Snider’s vocal melodies. There’s a power ballad (“You’re Not Alone”) and one faster song (“The Power and the Glory”), but the rest is pretty unvaried. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not quality (think AC/DC). Every song on here is a ‘good’ song: featuring riffs that work, memorable melodies, lyrics and solos delivered with conviction, and a tempo that never drags. It’s just a fun rock ‘n’ roll album for rock ‘n’ roll fans. So while it certainly doesn’t break any new ground, it accomplishes what it set out to do.
Lyrically, Dee Snider has always been about rebellion and loyalty to rock and heavy metal. This expression comes across best on Stay Hungry, but it’s quite predominant on here as well, with the best songs being those that delve into this subject matter. There’re a few glam style love songs (lyrically, not musically), so songs like the title track, “The Power and the Glory,” and the self-actualizing anthem “I Am (I’m Me)” stand out.
Twisted Sister faithful and 80’s mainstream metal fans in general would do well to pick this up: this album was written for you. It’s not so earth-shatteringly astounding that it could convert staunch detractors of the genre, but it’s certainly enjoyable for us non-partisan listeners.
This album has its ups and downs. At some parts it is heavier then Under the Blade, while other parts it suffers tremendously. The first song it opens up with is The Kids Are Back. It has this weird marching type sound effect, and then from there the song never goes anywhere. Not a bad song, but just doesn't take off. I have to give credit for the blending of guitars and drums in this song, excellent job there.
Most of the songs on this album are pretty crappy, really there are only a few worth mentioning. Along with the song I mentioned above, the next great song on this album is Ride to Live... Great song, more of a Twisted Sister epic. Great lyrics and a pretty cool chorus riff that will make you headbang for sure. The solo is actually pretty crappy for this song, but Snider's vocals make up for all the solo damage. I Am Me (I'm Me) is actually a corny song. It has that rhythm that is found in songs like Were Not Gonna Take It. Just one of those cool anthem type songs with a straight out guitar riff.
More good songs consist of We're Gonna Make It, probably the heaviest song on this album, vocal wise. The guitar riffs on this song are pretty deep and heavy, which helps everything come togther better. I'll Take You Alive is another good song, probably because of the opening riff (it's worth mentioning, isn't it?). Plus the lyrics are pretty damn cool. Then I would say the last good song on here is You're Not Alone. You can guess by the title that it is a ballad. It almost sounds like The Price (the ballad off of Stay Hungry). It has the decent guitar riff, and clean riffs. I am really surprised about how clean Snider got his vocals during the clean part of this song. The solos is also great, but most of the ballad solos are good!
All in all, it's not a bad album, but not a great album. Under the Blade and Stay Hungry are definetly better than this album though. It still has a kick ass 80's metal sound to it. I would recommend it to 80's metal fans, after of course picking up Under the Blade and Stay Hungry (and only getting this album if they licked those two albums). It has its ups and downs!