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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Twisted Sister

Live At The Astoria

Review by Greg Olma

Twisted Sister can still cut it live and here in my grubby hands is proof. Live At The Astoria was recorded in 2004 (according to some info I found on the web) on what would be the 20th anniversary of Stay Hungry. In true twisted style, the band came out in full regalia and put on a show that not only showed that they could still perform as well as before, but that they could still give a few of these new bands a run for their money. I was a Twisted Sister fan before they became a household name and before Dee Snider went before Congress. This CD/DVD set is something a fan of their older material can really sink their teeth into. More than half the show is dedicated to their first 2 records (yes, I did buy the vinyl) and the tunes they picked from their next 2 were good picks also; except “We’re Not Gonna Take It” which I can go the rest of my life without hearing. I know why this one is trotted out for the shows but fans like me dig the other stuff so much more that it makes that tune seem even less worthy to be included in the show. Well, enough of my rant. I was a little afraid to review this because some acts just can’t revive some of the magic they once had but Twisted Sister managed to not only put on a great show and were kind enough to put it out in this CD/DVD set. I really recommend this package for not only the die hard fans but also for the casual fan that is looking for a fun show to watch and listen to.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
What You Don’t Know (Sure Can’t Hurt You)
The show starts off with the announcer shouting “Alright London, would you please welcome the legendary, Twisted Sister!!!” as the band starts this Under The Blade classic. There is a real NWOBHM charm about the early Twisted Sister material and this track is not only a great opener, it is a prime example of what Twisted Sister were really all about before record companies intervened and turned them into a bubble gum version of their former selves. This cut has a fast tempo with an urgency about it that almost makes it seem that the band is racing to finish it.
The Kids Are Back
This song has an almost “Peace Sells” by Megadeth intro but in morphs into a great rocker with an anthemic chorus. Although it is slower in tempo than the previous cut, you have to remember that this was metal before Metallica and the thrash scene really took hold.
Under The Blade
This classic cut, like the first one, has that same old school metal sound to it. These were some of Twisted Sister’s first songs and they definitely represent the scene in the early 80’s. This rocker suffers a little from the sound but the energy is all over it. This is a case of the performance outweighing the playing.
A drum pounding intro ushers in this grinding, plodding, and heavy track. “Destroyer” is the perfect title for this cut. Dee Snider sounds extremely menacing on this one and you can almost hear the fun he is having singing this tune.
Like A Knife In The Back
Things pick up again with a rocker that has a bit of a swagger to it. The playing and sound seem to be improving and it is starting to sound more like a live album instead of a really good bootleg. Snider’s voice also sounds smoother as the show goes on (it must be hitting it’s stride). The guitar playing from Jay Jay French and Eddie Ojeda has always been under-rated and this track along with the whole CD shows that these guys can play with the best of ‘em.
Burn In Hell
This is the first track played from their most successful record Stay Hungry and I’m glad they chose something that was more in line with who they really are/were and not the pop metal that a couple of tracks from this album made them out to be. It’s a sinister number that still retains the anthem-ness of many of their tunes but doesn’t have that cheesiness about it.
Ride To Live
I can hear a little bit of “Children Of The Grave” by Sabbath on the beginning of this song. It then goes into a biker anthem on the chorus. Listening to these cuts again after so many years makes me realize just how good Twisted Sister could be and how record companies can ruin a great band.
Shoot ‘Em Down
Going back to the Under The Blade album, the band are firing on all cylinders at this point. The set seems to be focused on the earlier material (fine by me) and this again shows off more of a NWOBHM style of song. I can hear a Saxon or Tygers of Pang Tang type of playing about this cut.
You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll
I would prefer that Twisted Sister be remembered for tracks like this than their more commercial tunes that made them household names. This fast rocker has an infectious jut simple chorus that even in this day and age, will have you humming it throughout the day. “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll” was their call to arms back in the day and I think as a song, it still holds up.
The Fire Still Burns
Come Out And Play was the record that saw their popularity fade but there was still a number of great tunes on the disk like this one. It is played a little rawer than the studio version (I always thought they were better live than on record) but based on the rest of the material on offer here, it fits perfectly with all of their earlier tunes.
We’re Not Gonna Take It
If they were to drop this from their set, it would be fine with me. They play it a bit faster than the original studio version but in my opinion, it still doesn’t save the track. I know they have to play it because there are fans that want to hear it but I’m not one of them. Still, it is played well and the sound keeps getting better as the show progresses.
The Price
Keeping things going with the Stay Hungry album, they play one of the best songs of their careers. It is one of the ballsiest ballads in all of metal. Snider sounds great and the track still hold up today. Even the guitar solo by Eddie Ojeda is just perfect.
I Am, I’m Me
They keep things moving with this chanting rocker. The chorus is extremely catchy yet not annoyingly. Twisted Sister always wrote catchy tunes that did not wimp out at the expense of the music. The song has a very European sound and Slade comes to mind but I can’t really put my finger on it as to why. Well, regardless, it’s a good catchy tune and one that is always welcome in the set.
I Wanna Rock
I like this one more than “We’re Not Going To Take It” and as a song, it is a much better representation of the Twisted Sister sound than that piece of commercial pop metal. The band play this one rawer than the studio version and it sounds much better here in a live setting. There is an audience participation part in the middle and although I’m not much into those additional part, here, Snider keeps things fun. It shows that he is one of the great frontmen of the genre.
Come Out And Play
The intro is from the Warriors movie (sort of) where the bad guy calls out for “Twisted Sister, come out and play-ay”. Even thought they only play a couple of tracks from the Come Out And Play disk, they definitely took the 2 best to perform during this set. This is a fast rocker that has a sense of urgency, much like the set opener “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can’t Hurt You)".
No Twisted Sister show would be complete without playing this classic cut. Snider gives us a little history lesson as to the origins of the song title. It is another anthem that is the perfect way to end the show.
Bonus DVD
The DVD follows the same set list as it is the exact show of the CD (or vice versa). As far as filming goes, this one is done in the old school way of doing nice cut aways and always focusing on the right person at the right time. It makes you feel like you were at the show which is the most important aspect of any concert film (in my humble opinion). Visually, the band still has it. They put on the full Twisted Sister show with make-up and costumes and really try to recapture some of that era. They definitely put in more energy into their shows than some bands do in a week’s worth of concerts. Even though the DVD is basically void of any extras, the concert DVD itself is worth the price for this package, let alone getting the soundtrack on a separate CD.
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