Twisted Sister – Under The Blade
In April 1982, Twisted Sister landed a contract with UK punk-rock label Secret Records.
In June 1982, the group released its first EP, “Ruff Cuts”, with Toni Petri on drums. A.J Pero joined soon after. This was followed in September with “Under the Blade”, produced by Pete Way of UFO and featuring a guest appearance of “Fast” Eddie Clarke on the very sounding Motorhead song “Tear It Loose”.
I will go out on a limb here and say that “Under The Blade” was an inspiring metal album for a legion of death and black metallers.
With all things musical, Secret Records then goes into bankruptcy. However it gave the TS machine enough momentum to appear on “The Tube” (they paid $22K for the appearance) which in turn led to Atlantic Records Europe approaching the band and signing them. Plus who can forget the support of the mighty Lemmy (RIP), who introduced the band at certain gigs in the UK.
I purchased the remixed re-release by Atlantic Records many years later, after I purchased “Come Out And Play”. “Under The Blade” is a classic album from a well- seasoned live unit. All of the songs are designed and meant for the stage.
The opening track “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)” is a perfect example of a song designed for the live arena. Make sure you listen to the 5.32 version from the original. It’s better and it’s raw and gritty, just like Rock and Roll should be.
It’s that screechy, whiny, thin guitar intro that sets the tone and the way Dee Snider sings “Good Evening” with all the bravado of a circus MC, sounds like something dangerous is about to happen.
Good evening! Ha ha ha, welcome to our show
The welcoming line into the Twisted Sister world. I was intrigued.
Hit it! We’re no overnight sensation, no Cinderella fantasy
Please no plaudits or ovations, I’ve heard it all before you see
Bon Scott sang “It’s A Long Way To The Top, If You Want To Rock And Roll” and Twisted Sister is living proof of that journey. Indie bands are a common term for cool these days and there is no one more cooler than the TS Machine. For an indie band, they were way ahead of their time. Bands these days, with the world at their fingertips are unable to connect with people like the TS machine of old.
In the longer cut, the solo is extended at the 3.34 mark. It’s more melodic and it definitely grabs me.
How do you like it so far, say ain’t we quite a show?
There’s no one else quite like us, the others all get up and go
An intermission in a song is a brilliant piece of song writing.
“Bad Boys Of Rock N Roll” is the glam rock of Slade and Sweet cranked to eleven.
So we look kind of weird to you, well, how do you look to me?
You can just imagine how the TS look went over as the musical climate shifted from glam rock in the early Seventies to Punk and Disco in the late Seventies to New Wave in the Early Eighties.
Bad boys of rock ‘n’ roll
How bad can a bad boy be if he sets you free?
It’s about people who judge and condemn you while also enjoying what you have to offer.
So you say we’re offending you, what’s wrong, is it something we said?
Dee Snider doesn’t get enough respect. He was a spokesperson for a generation. Twisted Sister’s music was sold by the message in the songs. How different from today where everybody just oversells.
How heavy and doomy is “Run For Your Life”?
My favourite cut from the album! It’s all about the groove. The verse riff has the feel and power of AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock”.
Through abused intentions
You misused my trust
Now’s the time for redemption
You’d better run for your life
It’s the embryo of “Burn In Hell” that came after.
“Sin After Sin” is a metal classic in the same vein as Judas Priest.
I had to hear this to remember it.
Funny how something so dated sounds so modern, especially around the lyrical message.
The lie you’ve been leading
Has you up to here in sin
You never like to think about it
Now you just can’t win
In today’s “Facebook” culture, everyone is putting their lives out there, for the whole world to stalk. But just how perfect and true are those photographs and those stories that people put up. Hell, when the GFC happened, all the banks lies got exposed, Ponzi schemes from Madoff got exposed and every single financial lie that was told was exposed.
Sin after sin
When you start with one lie, you are bound to tell another lie and then another, until you are so far removed from the truth, you don’t even know what the truth is anymore.
“Shoot Em Down” is classic AC/DC style of rock. Dee Snider showed respect to his influences, taking the attitude and intensity of glam rock and heavy metal and making it his own. Soon all of us would have the same attitude.
How heavy is “Destroyer”?
This one is the style of Judas Priest.
Anthrax with Jon Bush on vocals covered it for the Twisted Forever disc in the mid-nineties and down tuned it even more. It sounded Pantera like. Brutal.
He spent his life
A silent sentinel
For all to fear
He walks, he talks, he thinks, he feels,
But no one dare go near
Destroyer, Destroyer, Destroyer
He’s in town
When I was young, I thought it was impossible to get old. And now that i am older, my viewpoints mean nothing to the young ones, with their youth and know it all attitude. Exactly the same way I was when I was their age.
Although Dee is singing about some being like the maker/undertaker who is coming to collect, the lyrics to me have a meaning about getting old and how when you get old, no one gives a crap about you and about what you have to say.
“Under The Blade” has this haunting/metallised “Friday on Your Mind” vibe in the intro. That’s the power of music, it sets a mood instantly, and then it goes into overdrive.
You can’t escape from the bed you’ve made
Many years later, Dee Snider said the song is about him going “Under the Blade” for a surgery, however the lyrics definitely paint a picture of a person cornered in the alley way and then stabbed in their side. It’s pretty graphic and the scene setting lyrics are brilliant. But that lyric, “You Can’t Escape From The Bed You Made” is it. You drive drunk, there is no escape from the bed that you made. You scheme and steal, there is no escape from the bed you made.
“Tear It Loose” is a more commercial sounding “Overkill’ from Motorhead merged with a rockabilly drumming feel in the verses. The funny thing is, I never dug “Tear It Loose” back then but it resonates with me now more than the other songs. It’s all about the message in the lyrics, the double bass drumming, the riffs and I’m banging my head to it.
There ain’t no way I’m gonna wait for Saturday Night
I worked all day, I slaved away, I gotta set it right
That is what music gave me. A release; a place away from the normal grind. While Loverboy was singing “Working For The Weekend”, the TS beast was working for the night. Every minute is precious, so enjoy it.
Gonna tear it, gonna tear it loose
Gonna shout it from the roof
Blast my way into the night
I’m gonna live my dream, shout and scream!
Tear it loose doesn’t mean to destroy things as some people believe. It means to break away from someone or something. It could be anything, a job, a relationship, an ideal in your mind, a bad situation, and so forth. Or in some cases, it just means to break shit.
I’ve been brutalized, computerized, punched in and punched out
Here comes the night and it just ain’t right to be shut in or shut out
So I’m breaking down the barricades, gonna slow the hands of time
Cause to waste away the rest of the day is such a f***ing crime!
Kids from the Nineties don’t understand the clock cards. It’s a different world and in my view a better one. Time is short, don’t waste it. You are a short time alive and a long time dead. As Bon Jovi said, he’ll sleep when he is dead.
“Day Of The Rocker” is a foot stomper. The main riff is a cross between AC/DC and “The Strippers Anthem” while the verses have a bass feel from “Heaven And Hell”. But the vocal delivery is a tribute to Bon Scott from AC/DC.
Our numbers growin’
Soon we’ll be showin’
We’ve got the right to rule
We won’t be denied
So raise your hands in the air
And I want you to tell the world all about
A call to arms for all rockers to unite. A rock and roll and heavy metal invasion, stomping their way to wipe the slate completely clean.
The day of the rock-rock-rock-rocker
Simple and effective chorus lyric.
It’s like Twisted Sister is figuring out where they stand as they go along. They were following Judas Priest, Motorhead, Slade, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Free and writing their own songs. And because of these foundations, everyone at home was forming bands, the same way everyone at home today follows technology.
Night Ranger – Dawn Patrol
It was a super group. Jack Blades, Brad Gillis and Kelly Keagy all did time with Rubicon, who had chart success and were a constant on the touring circuit. Brad Gillis also had the high-profile replacement job for Randy Rhoads after his tragic death. Alan Fitzgerald did time with Montrose and Sammy Hagar. Jeff Watson had local radio air play and record label interest.
“Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”
It’s classic Jack Blades. The lead break was a wow moment for me, especially when the eight finger tapping comes in from Jeff Watson.
It’s taken miles and lines to learn the right from the wrong
From living and experiences we learn. It takes years. Relationships and love is one of those beasts that takes a lot of time to get right, and even then it is not perfect.
“Call My Name”
Another Jack Blades composition.
Your silhouette always appears in my window
I close my eyes and hear
The applause of at least a thousand different strangers
And everyone seems sincere
The adulation of being in a band, having people worship you. How do you come down from that high?
For Nikki Sixx, he started to take drugs.
“Eddie’s Coming Out Tonight”
Another Jack Blades composition. Stupid title but a fantastic song. It has enough guitars to make it heavy and the keyboards just add to the melody. Plus Eddie likes to rock and roll all night long and in the Eighties that is what we all wanted to do.
How cool is that outro solo section, a four bar climbing click repeating over a climbing ascending riff.
He lives beyond his means
He wear Italian shoes
Ain’t that the truth! Eddie is well-known to all of us. I know I live beyond my means. Each pay check goes out to the banks for the home loans and credit cards.
“Can’t Find Me A Thrill”
It’s a sleeper hit. The lead breaks alone are worth the investment. Steely Dan and Toto influences are all over this one.
Chasing the spotlight
It’s all part of the game
I’ve been to so many places
And they all look the same
I rock for my money
Some say it’s a suicide game
The lyrics are brilliant. You see, even back in the Eighties when the record labels had power and money and bigger budgets to sign acts and develop acts, it was still a lifer game. You had to check out of society and reality to become a rocker. The only way bands made money is from the stage.
I love the music and the vocal melodies to “Young Girl In Love”, “Play Rough”, “Penny” and “Night Ranger” but really, really, really hate the lyrics. All four songs could have been crossover hits if the lyrical message was better, not derivative and maybe a bit more socially aware.
UFO – Mechanix
I am a Michael Schenker fan, so the UFO records I purchased in the Nineties via the second-hand record shop and various music fairs were the albums that Schenker played on.
However, for $1, I purchased “Mechanix”.
Released in 1982, it was studio album number 10. Pete Way would leave UFO and form Fastway with “Fast” Eddie Clarke who also left Motorhead.
I love the classic UFO releases with Schenker, so of course I was disappointed with this album. Back when I purchased it, I never gave it a chance. Paul Chapman never had a chance following in the footsteps of Schenker. Even Vinnie Moore these days, is ridiculed for being in UFO, however Steve Morse is all cool for taking Blackmore’s place in Deep Purple. Go figure.
But Paul Chapman is a star on “We Belong To The Night”. It is the stand out track by far and it deserves a place in UFO history as a guitar foot stomper. It’s like Night Ranger took this song, sound and feel and built a career on it with the “Midnight Madness” album that came in 1983.
But the lyrics make me cringe. And many years later I realised that was the problem with UFO after Schenker left. It wasn’t Paul Chapman, he was excellent. Musically the band was excellent. It was the lyrics of Phil Mogg. They just didn’t grow up with him. He didn’t become a voice for a new generation.