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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Twisted Sister

Club Daze Volume II: Live in the Bars

Review by Scott Prinzing

Originally released in 2001, this disc will be a “must have” for any Twisted Sister fan.  How many of your favorite bands recorded live shows broadcast on the radio years before their first vinyl was released?  The bulk of this collection is from a 1979 broadcast that had been sitting in a closet for over 20 years!  The band sounds tight, fresh and hungry.  It’s the classic lineup with the exception of the drum stool commandeered by Tony Petri on all the live songs. 

Most of these songs were new to me, so I tried to imagine myself back in high school, listening to this on a midnight broadcast, wondering how it would have sounded without the visual presentation that came with most of our first exposure to them on MTV.  I think I would have sought out a better copy than what I would have gotten with my mono Radio Shack tape recorder.  Now, I just need to pick up a copy of Volume I.  Bassist Mark Mendoza did a fine job of cleaning up the original recordings.  The last four tracks suffer a bit from the original, compressed radio broadcasts, preserved on cassette tapes.  The real gems of this 13-song set are the last two covers. 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Never Say Never
This barnstormer is a recording from 2001.  The drum tracks were originally laid down by A.J. Pero in 1984 during the sessions that resulted in their breakthrough album in the states, Stay Hungry.  The rest of the parts were added for this release.
Blastin’ Fast & Loud
The same details apply here as with the first track.  It’s also equally as strong a song.  While not hit single material, it is still an effective number.
Follow Me
This song kicks off seven songs recorded for a radio show in 1979.  It sounds as good as it does due to it having been recorded on one-inch eight-track tape.  This allowed Mendoza to remix it for this project.
Under the Blade
This is the song that provided the title track for the band’s 1982 debut. 
Ladies Boy
Probably one of the coolest songs from this show, this was obviously a fan favorite, as the crowd calls out the title when Snider asks.  The distinct descending riff is reminiscent of “Sixteen Tons,” but stands on its own. 
Come Back
The main riff here reminds me of “Crash and Burn” by April Wine.  I’m not sure if the bands ever shared a stage, but as you will read, it’s not the only song on this album that could have possibly influenced another band of the era.  Mendoza plays some cool bass fills on this one.  Can’t say I ever noticed his playing much before this album.  Nice work, you Animal, you!
Can’t Stand Still
Front man Dee Snider takes a breather as Jay Jay French takes a turn on the mic for this song he dedicates to “The greatest Dracula of all, Bella Lugosi!”  Thankfully, Snider rested up enough after one song, because while French is a fine lead guitarist, his vocals are better suited for backups.
Honey, Look Three Times
Snider’s intro explains that the crowd needs to redo their cheers because the engineers needed to change the tape or something.  This was the first performance of this song, which is a pretty strong track.  Mendoza takes a pretty hot bass solo in the middle section.
You Know I Cry
This was also the first time this song was performed.  The vocals on this one sound a bit strained.  Either someone is singing flat or the arrangement needed to be reworked.  It’s a decent rocker otherwise, with a hot rocking double lead solo at the end.
Without You
While the fidelity isn’t quite as good on these last four tracks, the power of the band is almost more palpable. 
Plastic Money
The band is really in high gear for this whole song.  One can imagine a few punks in the crowd, as it veers close to speed metal. 
Long Tall Sally
This is my favorite tune on this disc.  It’s amazing how many times bands look back to Little Richard for inspiration.  Snider alters the lyrics a bit, making them more explicit (Little Richard was probably thinking what Snider was singing 20 years later).  Unlike versions by The Beatles and Aerosmith (or the live versions by Scorpions and Heart), this one is played in half-time.  Molly Hatchet did a similar version a few years later that took the same approach.  It makes one wonder if Twisted Sister ever opened for them and played this.
Johnny B. Goode
Closing the album with one of the most iconic rock ‘n’ roll songs of all time is a good choice for a live album from the club days of any band.  They don’t play it straight, but it’s not as revised as Judas Priest’s remake was.  A few more Sniderized lyrics make for a raucous rendition.  “Thank you Detroit!  Good night!”
 
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