Twisted Sister – “We Are Twisted Fucking Sister”

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Twisted Sister – “We Are Twisted Fucking Sister” DVD (MONODUOFILMS)

Battle Helm Rating

When “Under The Blade” came out in 1982, like most 15 year old headbangers I didn’t necessarily care to look at where a heavy metal band came from, only how they sounded and moreover, how good their live show was. With the NWOBHM bands now established and with the older names still going strong, there were plenty of acts out there to cater to muthas who craved metal. Twisted Sister seemed to come out of nowhere. Sure, they were from the US but no one knew anything about them – until I saw The Tube, a new music TV program broadcast by a cutting edge Channel 4, who liked to skirt close to the mark. No kidding. My mum looked in disbelief as my dad shook his head at the sight of five monster dudes dressed in glam kit and worst of all – sporting make up. Not a little eye shadow mind, we’d seen this in the 70s with Bowie etc, and all tastefully done – but this was like Hammer House of Horror. You could hardly hear the presenter as the drone from the amps already signaled menace in the air. As the monster riffs of ‘What You Sure Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You’ came crashing in, my parents turned their disbelief to me, headbanging and playing air guitar in the middle of the room. They probably didn’t know what hit them like millions of other living rooms across the UK that night, but I sure did. Twisted Sister of course, soon became a household name, and then megastars through the 80s thanks to MTV and some very cool videos, most notably ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’. Some 20 years later and this rockumentary on the band seems almost untimely – I mean, what’s there to know that we don’t already know about these guys? Wrong! Over the next 2 hours I sat, now in my late 40s in the same living room – parents departed – watching avidly about a band that had actually started some 10 years earlier in 1972 by a disillusioned hippy kid from Brooklyn called JJ French who upon discovering Bowie, wanted to get a band together. Presented in almost “Goodfellas” style, the story unfolds with a surprising amount of photos and video as Eddie Ojeda from the Bronx soon joined a band that ultimately became the top act across Long Island bars, earning up to a $1,000 a night. The live footage shows Twisted Sister’s sometimes confrontational approach their audience even at this early time, and how the arrival of Dee Snider, who stole his outfits from his girlfriend, would only add fuel to this, and also take the band from successfully playing covers, to writing their own hit material like ‘Under The Blade’ to ‘Shoot ‘Em Down’. As their live shows became wilder from ‘drink till you puke’ shows to their hugely popular ‘disco sucks’ campaign to their infamous rock destruction era, where fans were encouraged to demolish venues, it soon became clear that the band I saw were no spring chickens ‘discovered’, but a band ‘built to overwhelm audiences’ over the course of a decade! While most people talk about the 70s New York scene centered around CBGBs with bands like the Ramones, what becomes clear from this DVD is that there was parallel scene, in fact much bigger in Long Island, of which Twisted Sister were the kings. Clear to the band as well, who still were unsigned and seemingly blacklisted by Atlantic Records who seem to despise them, Twisted Sister decide to go for the big one in selling out the Palladium in New York City. In what must be a Spinal Tap classic moment Eddie Ojeda slips and cracks his skull during the soundcheck and the show is cancelled! Not even a personal show i.e. for one person, in this case the President of Epic Records, can save them as JJ French sighs ‘I was robbed of being a rock star’ as he reminisces being the band’s impromptu tour manager over the years, running interference for his colleagues and crew as they raised hell. The best is saved for last. From self releasing singles that ironically did more for them overseas in unknown markets to taking punts flying to the UK to play dodgy shows with Motorhead (who became their friends) they went on to land their first deal – ironically with Atlantic, and specifically by the very man who once binned their demo tape! Twisted Sister built their name on the 3,000+ live shows that had made them, so what I saw in 1982 wasn’t the starting product, but very much the finished version. Man, no wonder they were so good. It also serves as a testimonial to a band who remain the poster children for unsigned bands and their never give up attitude. This DVD tells it all through the eyes of the band, crew, managers, club owners, fans – and even former Atlantic employees – and is compelling viewing. I now know what SMF truly means – and that Atlantic should eat their boots forever.

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