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Rocks can stop rolling...a metal barricade works - 83%

Gutterscream, June 27th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1983, 12" vinyl, Atlantic Records

…here it comes, you’re never gonna top it…

Even after all this time people still mistake glam as a sound instead of a look, and it’s especially absurd when speaking of a sound like Twisted Sister’s. I mean, can you really hear a look? What do Elton John’s flamboyant sunglasses and feathers sound like in “Honky Cat”? Or David Bowie’s alien make-up in “Ziggy Stardust”? Band unseen and after full audio sessions with Under the Blade and You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll, would anyone immediately assume this quintet dress like they were caught in the middle of a circus that exploded? Prior to their debut, you could flip on the lights during a show where their in-drag persona is grinding out the end notes of “Destroyer” or “Sin After Sin” and witness a crowd’s absolute surprise. Just sayin’…it’d be a real gift for this stupid visual to finally be ignored so TS could oblige us with some obvious sonic masculinity that’s, well, as masculine as anything on a mid-‘80s metal rack no matter the drapery. This, of course, includes You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll**.

Unfortunately, the middle child of Twisted Sister’s trilogy of important albums is, I have to, but dislike saying, probably their weediest, most unglamorous, and most looked over. It lacks more than a bit of the danger and personality its older bro brings to the table and is the purveyor of their least memorable track list. But…within the riveted tarnish of its cover’s TS logo is something that switching over to a major like Atlantic couldn’t squash, and that’s the group’s dead seriousness, whether swathed in goofy glam colors or street-tough denim blue which, as I vehemently declare above, never made a bit ‘o difference in their sound.

Structured with more straight lines, right angles and perfect circles, this five-per-sider is of an architect’s design rather than Under the Blade’s sweaty carpenter’s eye-up, so you’ve little reason to fret over a faulty fire alarm or the elevator cable snapping, which for metal has always been at least part of the thrill. While the noticeable security is indeed a piece of the lp’s problem, it’s a problem that’s fortunately smaller than the admittedly rather graphic description above.

Most importantly, the album’s points of greatness are typified in its freedom brawlers: combative “I’ll Take You Alive”, the wolf that tears the fuzz outta sheep’s clothing “The Power and the Glory”, chorus-soaring biker anthem “Ride to Live, Live to Ride”, and the tough title track for which a for-the-time tough video was made – the disc’s most replayed, respected and requested. Unsurprisingly, more than a few fans rank one or two of these within TS’s best. Regrettably, four outta ten isn’t a fabulous ratio.

The band’s career ballad numero uno, “You’re Not Alone (Suzette’s Song)”, dedicated to Snider’s wife and band make-up and costume designer Suzette Guilot-Snider, should’ve probably found at least a cottage somewhere in the singles market, but is only allowed to strut its emotive stuff in a home crowded with nine other tracks. Regardless, its natural sentiment and vocally-backed chorus is strong enough that it stands out at the breakfast table, and naturally Dee’s doing the serving. The bastard’s not even wearing a hairnet. Believe it or not, this is up in the record’s standings not just because it’s the one of its kind here, but because it’s done enjoyably well.

The disc’s middle road of “We’re Gonna Make It”, “Like a Knife in the Back”, “I’ve Had Enough”, and marched in n’ out “The Kids Are Back” – in their own right, at the very least halfway decent songs - is the glue, but singly are the faves of few. Throw in “I Am (I’m Me)”, in my book as close to a throwaway as the debut’s blues-bottomed “Day of the Rocker”, and the excess glue that dries at the seams is the hallmark of average workmanship. The fact remains, however, that most of these are indeed at least halfway decent, which is why the disc’s problem is smaller than its surface space.

Those already beneath Under the Blade’s more primal influence may have found YCSRnR to be a somewhat minor disappointment, though an acceptable one. Those like myself who count this as their initial encounter with the part-time flashy five-piece may hear a straightforwardly decent lp with its share of sinewy thrillers and satisfactory fillers. Hmph, kinda sounds like the same description worded differently, but you get the gist.

Mr. Snider’s fave TS album. Went gold in ’95 here in the States. Found itself at #14 on the ’83 UK Albums Chart.

** the first paragraph’s soapbox unearthed and set aflame by a co-worker whose metal awareness and administration of it is, um, let’s say satisfactory enough to fill perhaps an 8-10 page large typeset pamphlet dealing with only metal's basics, then nuthin’ post ’90 unless it’s grunge and some ‘80s, but only if championed by local Seton Hall University station WSOU back in the day, which I found boring, otherwise he's never heard of it. Tormented him with Air Supply the rest of the day.

…total style, perfection in decay…

Classic rock, odd look. - 85%

wallernotweller, December 20th, 2012

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.

You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll - 70%

DawnoftheShred, August 22nd, 2007

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.

It has its ups and downs! - 76%

PowerMetalGuardian, May 22nd, 2003

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!