Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on


Going “Under The Blade” With Twisted Sister

With the release of Big Hits and Nasty Cuts in the early '90s, it seemed like it might be the end of the line for Twisted Sister fans, better known within the circle as "SMFs" and the prospects of any further TS releases. But as the reissues market continued to crank up, an archival live album, Live at Hammersmith, recorded during the band's touring cycle for Stay Hungry in 1984 was released in 1994.  Catalog reissues for the bulk of the band's catalog minus Stay Hungry followed in 1999 via the fledgling reissue label Spitfire Records.

Since then, there have been a flurry of various releases, including some live DVD releases of both new and older recordings, a re-recording of Stay Hungry called "Still Hungry" and a 25th anniversary reissue of Stay Hungry in 2009 that was released on both standard CD, digital download and pink vinyl! (And let us not forget the Twisted Sister holiday release, *shiver*.)

Which brings us to 2011 and the current slate of album reissues from Armoury Records that have expanded each of the original 1999 reissues with bonus tracks.

The May 31st reissue of the classic 1982 Twisted Sister album Under The Blade benefits most as it has been lavishly repackaged into a two disc CD/DVD set. Five bonus tracks are added to the CD portion, including the hard to find "Ruff Cuts" EP (the pre-Under The Blade release from Secret Records) and an additional bonus live version of "Shoot 'Em Down" recorded at the Reading Festival in 1982. When I read about this reissue originally at The Second Disc, I was instantly very excited, especially in regards to the DVD bonus material.

The DVD portion presents the entire 1982 Reading performance, which runs about 45 minutes, with an additional 45 minutes of new interviews with the band. A terse note from TS guitarist/band manager Jay Jay French in the liner notes details the origins of the Reading video recording noting "Any quality limitations inherent to the DVD video and audio is because the concert was never supposed to be filmed or recorded in its entirety.  We were told that cameras were there only for broadcasting the performance into a VIP tent."

French goes on to explain further saying "a very special THANK YOU therefore goes to Joe Gerber whose typical (and rabid) willingness to battle on behalf of the band on that August afternoon and many others, resulted directly in this recording even existing in the first place. - Jay Jay French."

Reading the disclaimer gave me expectations that the video quality probably wasn't that good and I'm happy to report that is not the case at all. The Reading video looks and sounds just about as good as you would expect from video recorded in 1983. While it may not have been professionally recorded from the standpoint of being pre-planned to capture both high quality video and multi-track audio, what was captured is far from being shabby. In other words, you won't find yourself watching a video that was shot from the audience with camera audio.

The video interviews are great, with the band members detailing the issues they faced that day at Reading in front of audiences that came armed with fruit and other food projectiles to throw at the bands they didn't like, something that is captured on the video. A wide range of additional material is covered with the video interviews including band member recollections regarding the recording of Under The Blade.

Simply put, this reissue is a must for longtime Twisted Sister fans and there should be no hesitation about replacing your current copy of Under The Blade with this one - the generous amounts of bonus material and new liner notes make it a no-brainer purchase. It would have been nice to see similarly expanded liner notes for the rest of the 2011 reissues.

As exciting of a release as this is for the existing fanbase, I'd love to be a fly on the wall to watch a young music fan from today's generation view the Reading video footage. Certainly, discovering the music of Twisted Sister was a jarring experience for me as a young kid during the era they were actually playing shows, so how will this material and the inimitable personality of TS frontman Dee Snider translate to the generation of today?

Perhaps TJ at Viva la Mainstream One Album, One Day can help me answer that question.

For the rest of you, this release gets two horns way up. Listening to the lyrics of the title track, "a glint of steel/ a flash of light / you know you're not going home tonight," it's hard to understand how Twisted Sister later came under fire from the PRMC, isn't it?  Okay, maybe it actually makes perfect sense.