A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Class of 1989

Another trip down memory lane via my Hot Metal magazines. This is issue 6 from 1989. Lets look at the bands/artists mentioned:

Doro Pesch
Remember “All We Are” from Warlock. Even though Doro has released a shit load of records under the “Doro” name, none have come close to “All We Are”.  One YouTube channel has 3,428,785 views for the song “All We Are”. It was anthemic and energetic.

Dee Snider
Dee Snider’s new band Desperados had just signed a recording deal with Elektra Records and the article mentioned that they will start recording their debut album shortly.

We all know how that turned out. Elektra Records became Neglektra Records. The project is almost forgotten, except for Dee Snider who always resurrects a song or two or three from those sessions.

The Widowmaker debut album had a few and his solo album “Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down” also had a few. His new anthology will also contain a few songs.

Quiet Riot
Strong rumours circulated that the band had split up and that Frankie Banali had become a permanent member of W.A.S.P while vocalist Paul Shortino had been offered a solo record deal.

How funny that the vocalist who came in towards the end of Quiet Riot’s fame gets a solo deal. Seriously what song has Shortino written that has stuck around for the last 25 years.

Go on YouTube and type in Paul Shortino or Rough Cutt.

Forgotten, because no one cared.

Rough Cutt was just a band that had okay musicians and those okay musicians acted as a backing band for the better musicians like Jake E.Lee, Craig Goldy and Claude Schnell to launch careers. If Chris Hager was really a great songwriter he would have remained in RATT.

Whitesnake
The new Whitesnake album was finished and the press release said it was tentatively titled “Slip Of The Tongue” and the band had also re-recorded two old Whitesnake tunes in “Fool For Your Lovin” and “We Wish You Well”. The album was set for an August release, however it wouldn’t come out until November of that year.

We all know that the album was held back by David Coverdale as a threat to Geffen to stop the promotional push on the Blue Murder album. “Slip Of The Tongue” went on to sell over a million copies while Blue Murder’s self-titled debut got killed off.

David Lee Roth
Was recording his third album with producer Keith Olsen who just finished the Whitesnake, “Slip Of The Tongue” album. The band had new guitarist Rocket Ritchotte who replaced Steve Vai.

The album that would eventually become “A Little Ain’t Enough” came out in January 1991 (almost two years later), and the producer ended up being Bob Rock and the guitarists ended up being Jason Becker and Steven Hunter, however Rocket Ritchotte does have a few songwriting credits. Goes to show how quickly things can change in the music business.

And lets not forget Jason Becker and his diagnosis with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

In the end the album is forgotten. The title track lead single has about 420,000 YouTube views, which pales compared to “Yankee Rose” and “Just Like Paradise”. Hell, it even pales to Warlock’s “All We Are”.

Black Sabbath
They issued a press release calling off their U.S tour because guitarist Tony Iommi had fallen ill. The band at the time consisted of Tony Martin on vocals, Cozy Powell on drums and Geoff Nicholls on keyboards. The illness came at a time when the band was enjoying a revival of interest following the release of their critically acclaimed album, “The Headless Cross”.

But the truth was so much different. Sales in the US/Canada were low as the record wasn’t available in the shops to buy. Iommi more or less said the same in a Black Sabbath fanzine called Southern Cross, which is also up on Wikipedia for all to read.

Blue Murder
Weeks after the release of their self titled debut, the album was enjoying a decent run on the charts. We all know that this promotion push from Geffen would be pulled because of a certain David Coverdale withholding the “Slip Of The Tongue” album. And with that went the mainstream career of John Sykes.

Britny Fox/Faster Pussycat
Both bands began work on their follow-up albums. “Boys In Heat” and “Wake Me When It’s Over” are the albums respectively. Britny Fox and CBS didn’t go over too well with audiences, while Faster Pussycat continued their Gold run with Elektra. However by 1992, both bands were at the crossroads.

Both bands don’t even have the stats that “All We Are” from Warlock has.

Junkyard
The Hot Metal magazine loved their no bullshit rock n roll. The band at the time was a success story in work ethics. All the magazines wrote about their story to the “big time” and in all of their interviews all they wanted to do was be successful enough so that they can do more follow-up records to the debut.

In the end they came at the tail end of a glam rock movement which unfortunately they got lumped into and when that movement committed hara-kiri, the career of Junkyard was collateral damage. Their major label career also forgotten. The stats on YouTube tell the story.

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In This Moment and Atlantic

“In This Moment” will regret signing with Atlantic Records. Atlantic Records under the reign of the departed Ahmet Ertegun were well known for not paying their artists. Throughout the Eighties, Atlantic capitalised big time on the success of the metal and rock bands, and once those bands dad a drop in sales, Atlantic started dropping the bands left, right and centre and moved on to the next thing that could make them money.

Let’s look at some of the bands that Atlantic have signed;

The story of the band “Bush” is very similar to “In This Moment”. After three successful releases on a smaller label, “Bush” signed with Atlantic for their fourth release and in return they had their least successful album. So with no mainstream success and a lack of label support, “Bush” called it quits. Which is a shame as the band was coming of three great albums.

“Winger” was signed by Atlantic and they had success with Atlantic Records, there is no doubt about that. However, Atlantic signed a band that had musicians already developed and experienced. There was no artist and development costs associated with “Winger”. With that experience Atlantic reaped in millions from the first two “Winger” albums. After “Winger” delivered their best album “Down Icognito”, “Beavis and Butthead” also happened, and after hanging a Winger loving family in one of their episodes, Atlantic Records suddenly developed amnesia and claimed that they had never heard of “Winger”.

“Collective Soul” already had a demo version of their massive hit “Shine” doing the rounds on radio for about six months before Atlantic picked them up and re-released the same demo album under the Atlantic brand. What an artist and development program at Atlantic. While the band kept selling, Atlantic loved them. Then when the sales started to decline (although still great numbers compared to other bands), the label started to lose interest and after 7 years of making Atlantic wealthy, once their contract ended, it wasn’t renewed.

“White Lion” also experienced a similar fate to “Winger”. When the band was signed, they already had seven years under their belts, plus an independent release. What an artist and development program at Atlantic. So when “Pride” broke out, Atlantic pushed them to write more hit singles. This added pressure to create “hit songs” caused a conflicted Vito Bratta even more conflict and when the record label advice failed to provide an increase in sales for “Big Game”, the label just stopped caring. As a last resort, they gave them a lot of money for the “Mane Attraction” album and while “White Lion” was out of the music scene recording that album, their label had already moved on. So it was no surprise when the album was released with no marketing budget and within 5 months of the album being released the band was over. No one from the label called them and it just ended.

“Twisted Sister” had a huge local following, however US labels just kept on rejecting them. Eventually, they went looking for a deal in Europe and after a false start with Secret Records, they ended up getting signed to Atlantic Europe. Then they started to get traction in the US with “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll”. As an import album, it was selling like hot cakes in the US. So of course, Atlantic US came knocking, signed them (even though they ignored and rejected them for ten years prior to that), made a huge amount of money of the “Stay Hungry” album and then dropped them three years later. Again, what an artist and development program at Atlantic.

“Zebra” had a huge local following before they got signed with Atlantic Records. Then the “Zebra” debut album became one of the fastest selling releases on the Atlantic roster. Again, what an artist and development program at Atlantic. Not one of the bands that I have mentioned above got signed and developed. They where all developed. Three years later, Atlantic dropped the band, however they kept an option open on Randy Jackson. Randy Jackson finished the “China Rain” record in 1990 and Atlantic Records decided not to release it. Sound familiar. Gatekeepers controlling the fate of musicians. Dee Snider suffered the same fate with his “Desperado” project after experiencing the same shafting when he was in “Twisted Sister”.

“Badlands” was signed by Atlantic. The self-titled debut came out and it achieved cult like status among the jaded metal community. “Voodoo Highway” came next however Atlantic was not impressed with what “Badlands” delivered. It was during the making of “Voodoo Highway” that Lee and Gillen started to disagree over the direction the band was taking. The label wanted hit songs. The label wanted songs written to a strict radio formula. Ray Gillen apparently had songs that suited what the label was looking for. Those frustrations came to a head when Jake E. Lee accused Ray Gillen of going behind his back to the record company in a revealing Kerrang interview. In the end, Atlantic broke the band up and then dropped them when they went chasing the grunge dollars.

Atlantic has a history of extorting hard rock and metal bands. Testament, Skid Row, P.O.D, Mr Big, Taproot, Savatage, The Cult, Kix, Kings X and Queensryche are other bands that come to mind.

“In This Moment” will be next. Their music is a niche style and that style has a niche audience. For them to cross over, they really need to diverge from their style. Their most recent album “Blood” has moved over 250,000 units. For a metal band, that is a great result. For Century Media that is a great result. For Atlantic, that is not a great result, especially when you are on a label that has Bruno Mars, who has sold over 58 million singles. Especially when you are on a label that has Shinedown who are a multi-platinum selling band.

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Randy Jackson from Zebra

No, not the American Idol judge. Randy Jackson from the band Zebra. He does Robert Plant better than Robert Plant!

It was Dream Theater’s cover of their song “Take Your Fingers From My Hair” in 2009 that re-awakened my interest in Zebra. Isn’t it funny how a cover song brings back the original song and the band into the psyche. Something that Jon Bon Jovi doesn’t have the foresight for, as he thought tooth and nail to stop Shinedown covering “Wanted Dead or Alive”, believing that Shinedown’s cover song would take away income from the Bon Jovi original.

In an interview with The Great Southern Brainfart Randy Jackson was asked how did he feel about Dream Theater’s version and has Zebra seen a new horde of young fans because of it.

“Certainly. A lot of people who were unaware of Zebra were definitely made aware of us by Dream Theater doing that cover. We were really flattered that they did it. They stuck to the original version but added their own touch to it so I thought they did a great job with the song. I really liked it.”

Jackson founded Zebra in 1975. They had a very large following before their first record ever came out in 1983 on Atlantic Records. Like most bands in the later part of the Seventies and the early part of their Eighties, most of their fan base had been developed from their live shows.

In addition, the majority of the bands had been slugging it out for a decent time in the clubs before getting their recording contract. Look at Twisted Sister. How many artists today are prepared to put in 8 years of hard work before they actually get a chance to record. The answer is NONE. Artists today record straight away, release it and expect something to happen. They might do it that for a few years and when nothing happens 90% of those artists would walk away. The 10% that continue are the ones that become lifers.

The follow-up album “No Tellin Lies” in 1984 stalled in the U.S and by 1986, their 3.V album wasn’t even noticed and Atlantic dropped them.

Zebra should have toured Europe after the second record got released, instead they stayed in the U.S and as Randy has said in a few interviews, it was probably their worst decision ever made. Maybe they never should have released the second album. As with all things in the music business, once a band has an unexpected hit, they are put under serious pressure to release a follow-up.

Zebra fell into this category, pressured and rushed to get album number 2 out. The label also didn’t ball in the promotion game. The fan base of Zebra was still in New York and Louisiana and that is where the promotion efforts should have been focused on. A lot of Zebra’s hard core fans didn’t even know that they had album number 2 out. .

As history would have it, they put out their second album and went on tour with “REO Speedwagon” and “Sammy Hagar” during 1984. Air play for the new album was not a lot compared to the self-titled album, so after the US tours, the band had to go back in and record album number 3.

This was February 1985. As Randy Jackson was writing the third album they also looked for a producer. The band couldn’t come up with anybody. For five months the band was in limbo. It wasn’t until December 1985 that the band hit the studio for album number 3. That was a false start and the band went back into pre-production to work on the material. Finally in February 1986 they went into the studio and stayed there until August of the same year. By then it was all over.

If Atlantic was hanging out Twisted Sister to dry, what did that mean for a band like Zebra?

The album “3.V” just died. Radio ignored it. The week that it was released was the same week that Bruce Springsteen released his live box set. Three months earlier, Bon Jovi released “Slippery When Wet” and that album was picking up some serious momentum by November 1986, Europe’s “The Final Countdown” had broken world-wide as well. Radio put them in constant circulation.

The press didn’t want to give Zebra the time of day as “The Boss”, Bon Jovi and Europe became the darlings at that time. At this time as well, a lot of the radio program directors weren’t in charge of the play lists anymore and this really Zebra because back in 1986, bands really need airplay in order to get record sales. In addition, another program called MTV also ignored the band.

While most people would know Zebra by the songs “Tell Me What You Want” which Randy wrote it 1978 at 6:30 am after a gig at “Speaks” (New York) and “Who’s Behind the Door” that deal with the big questions about life there are other songs to sink your teeth into. There is the “Yes” inspired “The La-La Song”, “Take Your Fingers From My Hair”, “Lullaby”, “Time”, “Hard Living Without You”, “But No More” and “One More Chance”.

Then it was over. China Rain never got a fair shake. Randy Jackson finished the China Rain record in 1990 and Atlantic Records decided not to release it. Sound familiar. Gatekeepers controlling the fate of musicians. Dee Snider suffered the same fate with his “Desperado” project.

From 1992 to 1996, Randy was involved in the development of an interactive musical instrument called “The Key”. The instrument allowed anyone to play a guitar-like instrument (The Key) along with videos or CDs.

“Zebra IV” started recording in 1996. The drums were done in a week in 1996 and the rest of the album was done sporadically after that. In a MelodicRock.com interview, Randy said it was “a good 9 months of actual studio time but spread over a period of 7 years”.

The album didn’t see the light of day until 2003.

Throughout the Nineties, Randy built up his acoustic shows. Nobody wanted to book him in the beginning, even his trusted agents in New Orleans who had booked Zebra for 20 years rejected him. Now he is playing places like Japan and criss crossing the US and he hasn’t even put out a recording of the acoustic project. Yep, while labels and artist still believe it is about the album, here is Randy Jackson delivering a show that is spreading via word of mouth.

The same major labels who have been scared to search out and develop new music and bands. The rock that kids listen to today is the rock that we listened to growing up. Record execs are so afraid of losing their jobs that they wouldn’t think of trying something new. All they want is for their profits to sustain or get better, because in the corporate world that we live in today, everyone is replaceable.

In between Randy did “The Sign”, a melodic rock supergroup. He also handles the vocals for the wildly successful Symphonic Music shows of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Eagles performing to packed houses across the country (from 1996).

He is a lifer in the music business. Prepared to do what he needs to do to get. He is 38 years deep in his music career. He didn’t get the fame that other bands did, however it didn’t mean he didn’t have success.

http://www.famousinterview.ca/interviews/randy_jackson.htm
http://thegreatsouthernbrainfart.com/?p=7752

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Top 10

My 8 year old and my 7 year old love Twisted Sister. It’s the video clips that hooked them, so they started to dig deep into my LP and CD collection. Actually, the first LP they ever saw, was Twisted Sister’s “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll.” So here it is, the Top 10 list of Twisted Sister songs, by an 8 year old and a 7 year old.

1. We’re Not Gonna Take It

When Quiet Riot topped the charts with “Metal Health” and it became the first heavy metal album to do so, it was a game changer for metal in general. For better or for worse a lot of bands got picked up by major labels in the U.S.

Twisted Sister on the other hand were still struggling to get ahead without any real support from their Atlantic U.S.

Not to be deterred Twisted Sister took this new fan interest in metal to a new level. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is all pop and a little glam infused with a lot of rock. It’s tongue in cheek video ensured that MTV played it non stop.

Dee Snider finally fine tuned that Chorus melody he had written back in 1979.

2. I Wanna Rock

Who would have thought that in 1987 when “Love Is for Suckers,” came out that it would be a long time before Dee Snider rocked out again.

Desperado proved unsuccessful due to record label politics taking up Dee’s time between 1988 and 1989. Widowmaker came out in the midst of the Seattle Revolution and an excellent band was ignored.

3. Shoot Em Down

This can be the new anthem for the fight against censorship by the Copyright Monopolies and the Corporations that issue DMCA takedowns.

In 1985, Dee Snider along with Frank Zappa and Bob Denver appeared before a Senate committee to testify against the Parents Music Resource Center’s demands for music censorship legislation.

All of this is happening while Twisted Sister was burning to the ground with low ticket sales and crowd animosity.

In 2013, this fight is still going on. This time it is the RIAA, the MPAA and the Copyright monopolies that are trying to silence free speech with bogus takedowns.

Shoot em down I say.

4. You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll

“You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll” laid the groundwork for the things to come. With the release of “Under The Blade” before it, the band was getting some serious respect with the metal crowd.

During the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” tour in Europe, especially England, Twisted Sister was the hottest “new” group.

They where selling out 3500 seaters all over the country, they had two hit singles, been on national TV in England and had been in all the papers.

Twisted Sister tour these days and they are more popular than they have ever been. It’s true, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”.

5. SMF

This is the ode to the original tri-state headbangers who would talk at length about the shows that Twisted Sister played in New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester before Twisted Sister became a huge act nationally via MTV. This is their song.

When the band broke through and toured extensively behind “Stay Hungry” the band and Dee Snider especially became overexposed. After being the underdog that gave a voice to every angry teenager in America, Twisted Sister would end up losing the respect of their loyal and possessive core metal fan base.

In other words the SMF’s abandoned them only to return in greater numbers years later.

6. The Kids Are Back

While the record industry proclaims that the industry is dead without any evidence, the kids are all plugging away and creating.

Maybe we will never see another superstar act like the Eighties however we are living in a golden time for creators.

7. Burn In Hell

From reading all the press, it always came across that ”Twisted Sister” was in control of their lives and future. I saw them as a new generation of rock bands due to their hard work ethic to make it.

8. Come Out And Play

When I hear this song, I immediately think of the bands history playing the bar scene, especially when Dee screams out “Join our cavalcade / Enter the world we made.” That cavalcade started when Dee Snider joined in early 1976. That cavalcade kept on growing along with a growing collection of record company rejection letters.

The critics called “Come Out and Play” an uneven album. The weakest tracks on the album like “Leader Of The Pack” and “Be Cruel To Your Skuel” got released as singles. The singles that should have been released are the title track, followed by “The Fire Still Burn” and then “I Believe In Rock N Roll.” Imagine the film clip of “Come Out And Play” if Twisted Sister paid homage to “The Warriors” movie.

In the end “Come Out And Play” didn’t fit the “Michael Jackson business model” of the labels. Twisted Sister went from being hot to being the whipping boys again.

9. The Price

People have a lot of trouble dealing with failure. Twisted Sister had been through so much rejection it made them even more determined to make it. Everything comes at a price.

10. Stay Hungry

It was difficult for Twisted Sister to land a record deal, and the band ended up struggling for nearly a decade before finally getting their big break in the early ’80s.

Unfortunately, when this break finally came, the band would end up being the poster child of record company overexposure.

Stay Hungry stands as a reminder. With each rejection, you need to stay hungry and find the fire again.

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Did Piracy assist the come back of Twisted Sister?

Young people today do not realise the impact that Twisted Sister had on the music business around 1984 and 1985. Sure, other bands had greater sales and bigger tours, however no one did MTV like Twisted Sister. They ushered in a whole new promotions medium for metal and rock bands.

Twisted Sister came into stardom and then disappeared. In order to understand what happened and then why the resurgence, we need to go back to 1984.

“Stay Hungry” is released, followed by three singles. Two of those singles, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” made MTV a giant in the rock and metal world. Prior to that MTV didn’t really have any traction with the rock and metal communities. People tuned in to MTV to watch these clips.

The “Stay Hungry” album goes multi-platinum in the U.S. Dee ends up before the Senate and “Come Out And Play” comes out in 1985. It doesn’t meet the sales target set by the label and the tour is losing money in the U.S.

Europe, on the other hand is a whole different story and they had sold out shows across the continent. How can this be when the actual sales of the album are low in Europe? Europe is renowned for it’s black market and sharing culture.

By 1987 it was game over for Twisted Sister.

How can a band that was riding high by the end of 1984, disappear by 1987, especially when lesser bands continued to have a career during this period;

The Michael Jackson business model from the labels

The music market collapsed in the late Seventies. In order to stay viable, the major labels decided on a strategy to make more money with fewer acts. Michael Jackson became the first artist to whom this new strategy for success was to be applied. By 1982, Michael Jackson released “Thriller” and by 1984, the album was certified 20x Platinum.

He wasn’t alone either. Artists like Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Madonna, also benefited enormously from the new majors’ strategy to create superstars. When Bon Jovi and U2 exploded, they also joined this new superstar strategy. This is the way it worked; Large advances and marketing budgets, expensive music videos and fronting large amounts of money for large tours. Repeat if band/artist is successful or don’t repeat if band/artist is not successful.

Artist & Repertoire was unofficially outsourced to the independent labels and if they found an artist that had success, the artist would be transferred over into the major label network by default.

So a band like Twisted Sister comes on the scene and they don’t fit the new major label strategy. Anyway, the band persists and they end up breaking through. So the label is now thinking, maybe we should throw some money at this band and see what they can deliver. When “Come Out And Play” didn’t outsell “Stay Hungry” the label decided to move on, as it was clear that Twisted Sister didn’t fit the new model.

 

 

The Rise of the Thrash Scene

Twisted Sister to me are a heavy metal band. Yep they had that crossover appeal with “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” however in the end, songs like “Burn In Hell”, “Stay Hungry”, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”, “Come Out And Play”, “Kill or Be Killed”, “Destroyer”, “Run For Your Life”, “Under The Blade” and “The Fire Still Burn”s are heavy metal to a tee.

Twisted Sister appealed to the kids who were alienated and subjected to ridicule for their choice of music. They appealed to the kids who had a stiff middle finger attitude at the establishments. In 1983, an album called “Kill Em All” was released, who took on the same themes that Twisted Sister started. Instead the word ROCK was replaced with METAL. The metal fans of Twisted Sister jumped ship to the new “Metal Militia” started by Metallica. With songs like “Whiplash”, “Seek And Destroy”, “Fight Fire With Fire”, “Hit The Lights”, “Battery”, “Damage Inc.” and “Leper Messiah”, Metallica and other thrash bands ushered in a new era for the youth that Twisted Sister had connected with.

If you have any thrash fans, check out their collection and I guarantee you that they will have a Twisted Sister album in there.

The Bon Jovi and U2 Effect

So what happens when your core metal audience abandons you. For Twisted Sister, they needed to reinvent themselves. By 1986, Bon Jovi and U2, exploded all over the world. The record labels are flush with cash and they want more superstar acts. So what do the record labels do? They persuade their bands to record similar sounding albums. They tell the independent’s to sign hundreds of other similar bands on bad contracts. It is all about the profits.

The Senate Hearings

In 1985, fans of metal music just didn’t understand what the hoopla was about. They had no idea why metal music would even need to be at the hearings. Metal music was always on the fringes. Big deal if they add a parental advisory sticker to the album.

Abandoned By MTV

MTV used Twisted Sister and Dee Snider to promote their channel. Once the channel had traction in the metal and rock community, MTV abandoned the band.

The Past Finally Takes Its Toll with the Ten Year Itch

By the time 1987, rolled around, the band Twisted Sister with Dee Snider fronting it, had been at it for over 10 years. Jay Jay French even more. The band almost called it quits by 1983 when their Secret record deal fell apart. If you look at the 10 year trend of other bands you will see that what happened to Twisted Sister is nothing new.

Aerosmith more or less broke up by 1981, ten years after the main line up was formed. It wasn’t until 1984 that they got back together and by 1987 they became a multi-platinum band again.

Motley Crue replaced Vince Neil in 1992, almost eleven years after the band formed.

Van Halen had a new singer almost 12 years after they formed in 1986. By 1998, they had another singer.

Iron Maiden by 1989 had a few line-up changes in a new guitarist, a new drummer and most importantly a new singer.

Alice Cooper was at a low by 1980 after 12 years of hard work. It wouldn’t be until 1989 that he found major success again with the “Trash” album. His first break in the Eighties came with Twisted Sister in the “Be Cruel To Your Skuel” song in 1985 and a song called “He’s Back” from the Friday The 13th soundtrack.

So what happened to get Twisted Sister back into the public imagination:

The Beavis and Butt-head and Green Day Connection

It all started in 1993 and 1994. It was Beavis And Butt-head and Green Day that re-ignited the public’s imagination with Twisted Sister.

In the Beavis and Butt-head episode, “Stewart’s House (Too Dumb For TV)”, “I Wanna Rock” is featured, as well as “You Might Think” by The Cars, “Kiss” by Art Of Noise and “The Majesty Of Rock” by Spinal Tap. After Beavis almost loses it acting out the teacher’s opening speech, they move on to complain about the lack of explosions and that Twisted Sister are “fat guys in clown makeup.” In the end it got people talking about Twisted Sister again.

Then came 1994. That is when Billie Joe Armstrong the singer/vocalist from Green Day sang the start of the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” during Green Day’s infamous Woodstock ’94 performance. Yes, that is the same performance were Billie Joe Armstrong started a mud fight with the crowd. In the end Woodstock 94, was referred to as Mudstock ’94. Apart from the people at the event, the event was also viewed by millions by pay-per-view television. In the end, the Woodstock 1994 performance from Green Day, gave the band further publicity and recognition and it helped push the “Dookie” album to eventual diamond status.

In the aftermath of Mudstock 94, the millions of people that saw the event via pay per view, as well as the people that attended, asked themselves two things about “We’re Not Gonna Take It”; Which band sang that song and where can I get my hands on it?

With a combination of fans re-purchasing their LP’s and Cassettes on CD, and the Mudstock performance of Green Day renewing interest in the band as well as Beavis and Butt-head, the “Stay Hungry” album was certified 3 x multi-platinum in November 1995 almost ten years since is double platinum certification from 1985. In addition, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” was also certified “Gold” in November 1995.

A Radio Show and A Band called Sevendust

In 1997, Dee Snider began hosting the “House of Hair” radio show. With the catchphrase of “If It Aint Metal, its Crap”, the radio show focused on the 1980s hard rock/heavy metal period.

Also in 1997, a band called Sevendust released their self-titled debut album. It was produced by Mark Mendoza and Jay Jay French. By May 1999, the album was certified gold. Of course, Sevendust also had Jay Jay French as manager. Fans started asking how can that be? How can a person that dressed up like a chick in the Eighties, manage a band as brutal and heavy and COOL as Sevendust? If people are talking about you, that is a good thing. I remember when I purchased the Sevendust album and saw the Twisted Sister connection, I couldn’t stop telling people about it.

Heroes Are Hard To Find in a Strangeland of Napster, A Band Called Lit, Tribute albums and Spitfire Re-Issues.

In 1999, Napster exploded. I remember going on to Napster and seeing all the Desperado material, the Widowmaker material, the Twisted Sister material, as well as live concerts from Twisted Sister (from soundboard recordings and fan bootlegs). Thousands of people were uploading and downloading this content. While this would have hurt the RECORD LABEL, it didn’t hurt Twisted Sister at all in the years to come. I have always said that if you create great music now, expect to be paid well later. From Napster I got my hands on the Desperado era songs.

Also in 1999, the rock band Lit paid homage to the opening of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” video clip. Dee Snider actually plays the role of the angry father (originally portrayed by Mark Metcalf) who verbally abuses his son for his lack of authority and uncleanliness. This was big from a Twisted Sister point of view for two reasons. Interest in the platinum selling band Lit was huge, after their number one rock hit “My Own Worst Enemy” remained at number one for 11 weeks on the Billboard Rock Charts. “Zip Lock” was the follow up single and what a video clip to lead with. Again, this got Twisted Sister and Dee Snider back into people’s imagination.

The movie Strangeland was also released in 1999, with a new song called “Heroes Are Hard To Find.” This was the first new piece of music from Twisted Sister and it was significant, along with the Spitfire re-issues of the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”, “Come Out and Play” and “Love Is For Suckers” album with additional tracks.

A Road Trip and That Bastard Solo Album

In 2000, a small budget movie came out called Road Trip. For a movie that cost about $17 million, Road Trip was a hit and what a perfect song they had for it. As the characters sing along to “I Wanna Rock” as it was playing on the radio of the bus, it was very reminiscent of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Wayne’s World. A perfect touch and what a promotion for the band

Dee Snider also released a solo album called “Never Let the Bastards Wear You Down” in 2000. Now this album was a “Best off” from songs that didn’t make it on any Twisted Sister albums, plus selections from the ill-fated Desperado project that Elektra boss Bob Krasnow destroyed two weeks before its release. It was a great album and the back stories provided with the CD, re-ignited the imagination.

A Culturally Significant Film

In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House a culturally significant film and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. This was significant for Twisted Sister. Since their video clips of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” borrowed from Animal House, their name was out there again with the renewed interest in this movie.

Any person that grew up the Seventies and the Eighties cannot watch the Animal House movie and not think of Twisted Sister, especially when Nedermeyer has screen time.

Congressional Hearings are Finally Understood

Dee Snider is now seen as the hero and playing himself in a 2002 TV-movie called “Warning: Parental Advisory” got him back in our faces again.

 

Piracy and The Pirate Bay

The Pirate Bay debuts in 2003 in Sweden. Twisted Sister is one band that is shared a lot by the Europeans. A band with low record sales in Europe headlines Wacken.

Schwarznegger Is Not Gonna Take It

Dee sang, “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” which was adopted by the Schwarzenegger campaign. Of course, if you are a fan of the “Stay Hungry” album, you would know that the themes and the album title is from a book that Schwarzenegger wrote back in 1979.

A Film Called The Warriors and the Rise of Cyberlockers and Blogs

By 2005, blogs and cyber lockers are rising, especially in European countries. This is how it worked; A music fan creates a blog and they list all of the albums they have from bands. On each list they have a link that directs the person to a cyber locker site where they can download the album. If people kept on downloading the album, the link stayed up on the cyber locker website. If they didnt, the link would expire. Twisted Sister’s collection, plus live recordings did the rounds on these blogs and the links stayed up.

 

Also in 2005, Paramount Home Video released the “Ultimate Director’s Cut” DVD of The Warriors. As the movie came back into the public awareness so did “Come Out And Play” as people were reminded of Dee Snider clicking bottles together saying “Twisted Sister, come out and play” as a tribute to the movie.

The Wash Up

The fans of Twisted Sister in the Eighties had kids and those kids grew up. There is a study doing the rounds on the internet about how the musical tastes of kids are influenced by the musical tastes of their parents. 

In my opinion, the re-birth of Twisted Sister’s popularity in the 2000’s is due to piracy. In Europe, Twisted Sister’s music is pirated heavily. With this new distribution, Twisted Sister was given headlining slots at European festivals that still continues to this day. Being a killer live band, they always delivered and their legend grew even more.

It’s funny that the thing that the record labels try to stop is the same thing that gave Twisted Sister a new life.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Bloodied But Unbowed – Passing Time with Dee Snider, Desperado and Shut Up And Give Me The Mic

I am about 200 pages deep into the Dee Snider bio, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic.” It got me into a Snider mood, so I turned to “Desperado – Bloodied But Unbowed”. You cant find it on Spotify, however all the songs are available on YouTube, the original unofficial streaming site. You see, while the Record Labels procrastinated over licensing Spotify, YouTube slipped in through the back door and won the streaming war. If you want to buy it, iTunes also has it for sale.

Bloodied But Unbowed means “harmed but not defeated by an unpleasant situation or competition”. It is a typical Dee Snider statement especially coming off the Twisted Sister meltdown. For the uninitiated Desperado also includes Clive Burr (RIP) on drums, Bernie Tormè on guitars and Marc Russel on bass.

The project never saw a proper release due to the record label Elektra, pulling the CD from the shelves, two weeks before its release. The quote from Bernie Tormè more or less sums it up; “Well, it took years out of all our lives, though for me 99.9% was pure pleasure. It was a great album, great singer, great band, but unfortunately for us, a shit record company.”

Dee sums up his feelings in “Shut Up And Give Me The Mic”;

“I was literally packing to leave for England to shoot our video when I received a devastating call from my manager, Mark Puma. Elektra Records had dropped Desperado and shelved our album.

The news hit me as if I’d been told a family member died. I collapsed in a chair and listened to an explanation of how my record—which already had a catalog number and was in the Elektra database and slated for release in just weeks—had come to an end. Brian Koppelman—the fan who had signed us—had left the label for a better offer at a new record company called Giant Records. Insulted by Brian’s move, Elektra got even with him by “shelving” all the projects he was working on. As if we were inanimate objects, Elektra Records shut down our careers. I couldn’t believe it.”

Back in the heyday of the record labels, as a musician, your career was in the hands of the record labels. The record company moguls had the power to make or break not only musical careers but the financial lives of individuals. Even though the Desperado project started in 1988, the story of their album getting shelved goes back to 1983, when Bob Krasnow was put in charge of Elektra and given the task of turning the Label’s fortunes around.

So what happens when making music and making profits collides? Careers get destroyed and careers get put on hold. Bob Krasnow came into power, destroyed the careers of many artists between 1983 and 1993. Desperado wasn’t the first project that Bob Krasnow left nor would it be the last. By 1994, he abruptly resigned (aka for pushed to resign) from Elektra, after he was excluded from the new Warner Music corporate inner circle. How does it feel to be on the outer, sucker? Payback

Emaheevul

Clive Burr lays the foundation for the song after the harmonica intro. The version on “Blood and Bullets” from Widowmaker, is a modern radio friendly take, however the Desperado version has that Bluesy Classic Rock rawness that I like. This is the same feeling I had when I compared the Atlantic re-issue of “Under The Blade” with the original Secret Records version. For me the Secret Records version had that rawness that was just perfect.

Big credit to Bernie Torme and Clive Burr for the Classic Rock touch. Dee always wrote great melodies and with Torme on the scene, he now had a person that could write music that was more intricate.

Never thought much about right or wrong
Never thought much about what I’ve done
Never think much about what I’ll do

You know the story. Our upbringing is all about living as a member of the family, the community and the nation. It’s all about doing the right thing instead of the wrong thing and so on. Pursuing your own dreams and pleasures is frowned upon and seen as selfish, especially if it doesn’t involve earning a weekly wage.

Then you have Dee spitting out the words of Emaheevul. Don’t think about it, don’t procrastinate about it, just do it.

Am I evil?
What’s it to you?
Am I evil?
Compared to who?
Am I evil?
Death, where’s thy sting?
How you dare
Point and stare
Who made you king?

A funny thing happens to all the ones that point and stare. Their life eventually ends up in the doldrums because it isn’t as great as they make it out to be. The ones that judge end up being judged.

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter

It’s 7 minutes long and it’s got that large Def Leppard style chorus ala, “Headed For A Heartbreak”. Bernie Torme is allowed to take centre stage on this song, with his leads and fills.

Dee has said that “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” is his proudest moment as a writer and nobody even knows the song. I know about and a lot of others know it. In time, millions more will know it. The music business model has always been about creating great music now, only to get recognition years later. Then the record labels got powerful and made the music business all about creating music now and expecting to be paid handsomely now. No wonder Dee has lost his motivation to create new material.

But a man ain’t a man if he don’t take a stand
And he won’t put it all on the line

One thing that I am taking out of the Dee Snider bio so far, is that he always put everything on the line just to make it. He was a leader. Leaders question authority, while followers obey the rules. Leaders have no safety net, while followers have a back-up plan. Leaders, start the corporation, while followers work for the corporation. Leaders do it their own way, while followers have conformity as their way of doing things.

I can’t see any band in today’s times, hanging in for seven to nine years before they get international recognition. The kids these days don’t have that mindset. Furthermore, the music model is totally different. Look at the band Heartist. They built their following online and then when they played their first gig, the buzz was there, the record labels came out in force and so did all the prospective managers.

The book also highlights the difference between “breaking through” in the 70s/80s and today. Fame and fortune in the music business can be gone in an instant no matter how hard a person works at it. The music industry is a brutal machine. From 1976 to 1992, Dee Snider was chewed up and spat out numerous times and he still made it through. The music business is about survival.

Ain’t the only one to ever lose
Ain’t the only man who had to choose
I’m no stranger to that kind of news
But a man ain’t a man if he don’t make a stand
And he won’t put his heart on the line

If you are afraid to lose, then you are a follower and you don’t belong in the music business. If you believe that you are destined to win and are not afraid to lose, then you belong in the music business. While followers plan, leaders make it up as they go.

This song is written before the “Desperado” album was pulled. It’s like Dee could see the future. Great music and great messages are timeless. The themes in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” were relevant in 1988/89 when the song came to fruition. The same theme was relevant when Widowmaker came to be in 1992 and in 2013 the message is still relevant. You will never be a winner if you don’t put everything on the line.

Calling For You

95% of the love ballads that came out during the Eighties I found corny. I really liked “Love Song” from Tesla. It was a whole different take on the format, with many different movements, like the Randy Rhoads inspired classical guitar intro, to the normal stock standard hard rock ballad and the big “Hey Jude”, “love will find a way” ending.

The original version of “Calling For You” leaves me speechless and the Widowmaker version is also top notch. When you have a quality song, the output will always be quality. Its great to hear Bernie Torme’s style in this song as I was so used to Al Pitrelli’s take. Clive Burr is hitting the skins, like it is his last day on this Earth especially on the pre chorus part of the song, when Dee starts singing, “Girl I want you to stay / I beg you, I pray / Don’t leave me this way / I’ve so much to say / Oh, don’t walk away / How long must I pay?”

There is that familiarity in the lyrics. The lyric line of “How long must I pay?” is referencing the song “The Price” from the Stay Hungry album. Back in 1984 it was a price that Dee had to pay and in 1988/89 he is asking the question, for how long must he pay the price.

See You At Sunrise

Classic solo by Torme. The lead break alone is one of those songs within a song compositions. It’s melodic and shredilicous. It goes on for about two minutes and it closes the song. No one has got the balls these days to go with a two minute lead break in a song. Everything is about conformity. Followers play the political game. Leaders on the other hand, play their own game. I really like how Dee uses the cowboy showdown analogy for the breakdown/showdown of a relationship.

See you at sunrise
See you in the morning’s light
There won’t be any compromise when I’m blowin’ you away

I was reading some reviews on Dee’s bio, and quite a few of them had the words that Dee’s ego is still uncontrollable. Maybe it is. While followers conform their personalities to get along, Dee just got to be himself. There was no compromise. That is what leaders do.

In the end, Twisted Sister became international stars because of Dee Snider. No one cares about the hard work that Jay Jay French put in behind the scenes. In the end, artists are judged by their songs and the songwriter in Twisted Sister was/is Dee Snider. Case closed.

Gone Bad

It’s perfect for 1989. It’s pop metal and it’s sleazy as hell. Again, both versions between Desperado and Widowmaker have their own uniqueness. The Desperado version, is edgier and rawer. If anything it is under produced. Torme again shines with his Guitar Heroics. The lead break is again a “song within a song” composition. Torme was really in his element working with Dee.

So I’m bad, cut off from the rest
So I walk alone, everything you detest
Why should I play the games you play
Should I worry ’bout all the things people say
Tell me why should I care
Won’t you tell me what should I prove
That I’m just as feeble and lost as you?

The Maverick (Run Wild, Run Free)

This is probably as close as Dee got to his Twisted Sister days with Desperado. It reminds me of the “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” period. The song to me is autobiographical.

It stood in the meadow, wind blowin’ through its mane
Cryin’ go, go, go, go and do it
He stares out the window, anger feeds his flame
Cries oh, oh, oh I can’t lose it
And he asks no questions why ’cause he knows it’s do or die
He got colder and tough, now he’s hard to the stuff
He’s got to go and try

While the majority of society argues about their pay, for Dee Snider money was secondary. The mission statement was always about succeeding. It was about making it. Any price would be paid in order to succeed.

Run wild, run free on the road to nowhere
No one’s gonna change your life

The mission statement is about running wild and running free and doing things your own way. Do not expect a shining light to arrive from out of nowhere and change your life. You are in control of your own life. If something is not working then something needs to change. It always starts with you.

But she asks no questions why ’cause she knows it’s do or die
She just smiles and hangs tough ’cause she’s hard to the stuff
She knows he’s got to try

The other side to the mission statement. In chasing dreams, how much are you willing to sacrifice. When it comes to music, a lot.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Dee Snider – What Do You Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics – Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down

After Widowmaker released Stand By For Pain in 1994, I was at a loss as to what was happening with Dee Snider. Information was hard to get. All of the music magazines wrote about Grunge, Alternative Rock and the rise of bands like Korn, White Zombie and so forth. Hard rock, heavy rock and heavy metal news was hard to come across, especially in Australia.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into an independent record store and came across Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down. This was in November, 2000 and the album had been out for about six months by then.

The album title alone made a connection with me right away. First, it was a typical Dee statement. Second, I was getting treated like dirt at work and it wasn’t long after I purchased this album that I left that employer.

I really liked the whole CD package, the booklet and the back stories provided by Dee for each of the songs. It is those connections that fans look for. The first working title for this album was Diamonds In The Dust.

Call My Name was written by Dee for the Stay Hungry album. As Dee stated in the CD booklet, he was so desperate to be somebody. WASP even wrote a song called I Wanna Be Somebody.

Now it may take a lifetime,
It might even take ten
Maybe nobody knows me,
They all will in the end

The path to musical stardom is right there in those four lines. To be somebody could take a lifetime. It could ten years, it could take 5 years. Nothing happens overnight. That is the cold hard truth of the music business. Jay Jay French stated in an interview with website Rockpages.gr

when Twisted Sister started in the United States gasoline was 30 cents a gallon, a hotel room was 19$ a night, a truck rental was 25$ a month, and you made 100$ a night! Now, gas in the US is 4$ a gallon, you truck rental is 400$ a week, your hotel room is 200 a night, and not only you don’t get that 100, but you have to pay 100, and there is no record deal, so the bottom line is “DON’T GET INTO THE MUSIC BUISNESS”! Go become a lawyer, a doctor… you’re not going to make money! The rock star dream is over! It’s gone!

While I don’t agree with all the words that French said in that interview, one thing is certain; the rock start dream is far from over. Music was never about platinum records or gold records. That part is all a fall out of the corporatisation of music. Music is all about making a statement. Music is about getting across a point of view that connects with people. Twisted Sister made that statement with You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll, I Wanna Rock, The Price and We’re Not Gonna Take It.

Cry You A Rainbow was originally written for the Desperado record. It was written by Dee Snider and Bernie Torme. Dee wrote some great ballads in Twisted Sister. The Price and King Of The Fools are two that stand out.

However Calling For You and Blue For You from the Widowmaker Blood and Bullet album set a new standard for me. Joe Franco even called Widowmaker the best band he has ever played in.

Calling For You is written by Dee Snider and Bernie Torme. It was actually written during the Desperado era. It was recorded for the shelved Desperado album. Thank God, Dee persisted in getting this song released. It’s quality all round. As Dee once said. “I can go out on stage and do that song knowing that not one word, not one note is contrived. The feelings are genuine.”

The Snider/Pitrelli/Torme penned Blue For You is a perfect illustration of the blues. The bridge is the best part of the song. Dee is summoning all of the Robert Johnson crossroad spirits for that vocal line.

First you want me
Say you need me
Then you tell me I’m a fool
Then you love me
Then you leave me
Oh, you’re breaking all love’s rules
Well I know I’ll love again
But I’ll never love anyone more

Cry You A Rainbow is another ballad that is up there. I remember reading the lyrics before hearing the song and making a connection to Calling For You. Again, Dee made a connection.

Ooh, our love is strong
Is it stronger than the pain all around us
Things we never thought we’d see
Ten thousand kinds of misery

Relationships are fragile. They could be heading full steam ahead and then something happens that changes everything. Most break up. The ones that don’t come out of it, changed and stronger. I have been married for sixteen years and I have three kids. Our love was stronger than the pain all around us.

Hardcore – Producer Tom Werman has gone on record stating that Dee doesn’t like to give credit to anyone else but himself. So how does Werman explain the song Hardcore. This is Dee, giving credit to Lemmy Kilmeister from Motorhead.

The power chord is all he needs
Kill or be killed his only creed
While death is certain, life is not
So he strikes while the iron’s hot

I love the Kill or Be Killed reference in this song.

Our Voice Will Be Heard is another Stay Hungry off cut. To plagiarise Dee, “another angry, young rocker anthem I’ve written over the years.” It’s about standing up and believing in yourself.

We are the people, we are the one
We’ve got the numbers, we’ll have the fun
Raise your fist in the air, show them all that you dare
And they’ll know, yes they’ll know

Our voice will be heard

You can tell that Dee went back to this song as a reference point when he was writing Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant). That is what artists do. They go back to their own body of work, twist it, rewrite it and make it better.

Isn’t It Time was originally written for the Desperado record. It was one of the first songs written by Dee and Torme. As Dee mentions in the booklet, “when Bernie and I started writing together, we had no band, no record contract, no band name and no real direction. As we worked together, a theme (albeit a Western one) started to come through. This is a great pop metal tune that didn’t fit into what became the Desperado sound.”

The song Desperado was meant to be the theme song of the Desperado project, instead it is seen as an epitaph of a dark period in Dee’s life.

Now just look how much you gave
The people that you tried to save
They don’t even wanna talk to you
And when you see just what you are
A desecrated fallen star
A bad man with something to prove

When I read the lyrics on the first verse, I immediately replaced the You with Dee. He is talking about himself. He is putting his emotions and feelings out there. It’s almost like Anakin’s fall to the dark side.

Desperado, how will the wind blow?
You’ve got the fire, it’s time to make a stand
Desperado, where did your love go?
Filled with desire, it’s time to tip your hand

When your life is going through a bad patch, everything around you bothers you. You start to argue with your loved ones, you feel that you have something to prove, so you lock yourself away even more. Then the desperation kicks in.

Better stop before you make a move
Think what you stand to lose
I know you’re mad because you were burned
But is there something that you’ve learned?

In the end, is it all worth it? In the end, is the path that a musician walks all worth it? That is the decision, we all need to make. When do you make a stand, when do you walk away, what have you learned and what do you stand to destroy? For any artist that wants to be somebody, Dee Snider has laid out the highs and lows for you in his songs.

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