Judge Bill Gibron is also one SMF.
Slade Meets the Sex Pistols…even four decades on.
Many have (wrongly) dismissed them as a gimmick, a hair band hair-don't that tried the weirdo whack job tactic of mixing heavy metal and transvestitism. Others only remember their MTV days as video darlings (thanks in no small part to the inclusion of Mark Animal House Metcaff as part of the pratfalls) and scoff at the rest of their legacy. But make no mistake about it—Twisted Sister was around a long time before a certain cable channel made visualizing songs seem cool, and they continue to be relevant long after said station stopped marketing musicians and started getting a scripted version of "real." Lead by infamous frontman Dee Snider and backed by Mark "The Animal" Mendoza on bass, Eddie "Fingers" Ojeda and Jay Jay French on guitars, and AJ Pero on drums; the self-proclaimed "Iron Men of Rock" have come a long way from their crazy club beginnings. Once again headlining stadiums and celebrating a newfound level of critical and commercial respect, the DVD version of their Live at Wacken appearance arrives, with a complement of interviews hoping to set the post-breakup record straight. One major gaff aside, the presentation provides a wonderful overview of the band's non-seasonal output, the set list including:
• "What You Don't Know (Sure Can Hurt You)"—from
the 1982 album Under the Blade
Let's get the big complaint regarding this disc out of the way right up front…IT'S FULL SCREEN. That's right, in this day and age of Blu-ray and widescreen TVs, it seems almost unthinkable to believe that someone would actually release something this amazing in a format so crappy. Indeed, Twisted Sister are sensational live, a thoroughly professional and amazingly kick-ass metal outfit that's years younger than their notch past middle age present context. All five band members know the moves and exploit them for true sonic raw power. Snider is especially impressive, given his age (55) and the continuing need to run around stage and hit the high notes. He's a stellar frontman and never once lets the appreciative German audience down. Twisted Sister has often complained that their albums never truly captured their live grandeur, and this concert illustrates such a sentiment perfectly. Songs like "The Kids are Back," "Under the Blade," and "The Price" steamroll across the crowd, waves of guitar shredding supremacy leveling all in their path. Even the more familiar tracks like "You Can't Stop Rock and Roll," "We're Not Gonna Take It," and "I Wanna Rock" explode with newfound energy and polish.
But it's the behind the music-eseque material that really sells this package—1.33:1 or not. All five members sit down separately and really walk us through the break-up, the bad feelings, the belief that Twisted Sister would never play together again, and the baby steps that led to their eventual regrouping and reunion. It is clear during the course of this material that Snider is the sticking point for most—and it makes sense. If you look at their output and creative canon, he was responsible for 99% of the music they made. He wrote almost all the songs. He was the charismatic symbol of the band's rebellious glam stance, and he was the instigator of the tensions when he wanted to "go solo." As it does, age has mellowed and removed many of the impediments, letting the former friends reconnect and rediscover the truth—they love making music together. And when it's as astonishing as the performance given at the Wacken Festival, they have a right to be proud.
As for the tech specs, the full screen presentation is depressing. The concert was obviously filmed professionally and the lack of a widescreen option is irritating at best. Of course, the Q&A footage looks like something captured with someone's camcorder, so maybe the compromise was to give everything an "old school" (or as Disney would call it—a 'family friendly') look. In either case, there needs to be a 16x9 option for such a special showcase. As for the sound side of things, the Dolby Digital 5.1 is incredible, delivering a nice immersive live act feeling while channeling a lot of guitar grind and bass bombast to the speakers. The interviews are clear and crisp, and even some of the home video footage comes across as aurally acceptable. As for added content, there is a collection of stills from the New York Steel Benefit show and a featurette showing Mendoza rerecording some choir choruses for the Still Hungry LP. But what fans will really be excited about is the inclusive of a live CD, offering 11 tracks. Some go as far back as 1980, while 1982 and 2003 are also represented.
Maybe someday Twisted Sister will earn the universal metal acclaim they so richly deserve. Until then, the committed and the converts can enjoy their better than current crop form, and this amazing return to the stage after so many bitter in between years.
Not Guilty—except for the formatting, this is a fantastic live DVD and personnel overview.
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