CD Review: Twisted Sister, “Live at the Marquee”
Have I ever mentioned what my dream job is? It’s being the guy that gets to put together Rhino compilations out of their vault of material. That’s always been my dream. I picture walking down hallways like I’m in a library and pulling out rare live B-Sides to put on some disc that hardcore completists will cream themselves over. So when Rhino shoots me a live Twisted Sister record from back in their heyday, it’s instant chubb (and I know they aren’t chicks!).
Live at the Marquee was recorded back in March of 1983, when I was just the ripe young age of 7. While Twisted Sister’s best period came a little before I realized who they even were, one of the things I certainly wish I could have done is seen them live in concert before they became a historical footnote. I had always heard about how crazy their original lineup of Dee Snider, Jay Jay French, Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda, Mark “The Animal” Mendoza and A.J. Pero were on stage but by the time I got to see them, the original lineup was gone and I just felt like something was missing. Still, it’s still hard to ignore Snider even these days as he’s certainly an opinionated loud-mouth (of the best type of course).
Live at the Marquee certainly does its best to take me back to those years I’ve been longing to return to. March of 1983 was right after they signed with Atlantic records but before they released their second album, You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll. This means that there’s no “We’re Not Gonna Take It” or “I Wanna Rock” but you get the raw band, all but “Day of the Rocker” from Under the Blade as well as tunes like the title track to the second disc (the first performance of the tune) and “I Am (I’m Me)” which hadn’t been released at this point and their cover of Slade’s version of “Let the Good Times Roll” to close out the concert. I definitely don’t hate anything about the Stay Hungry period of their career, but back before that Twisted Sister had this Rocky Horror Picture Show vibe to them, very theatrical and of course the cross-dressing didn’t hurt that either.
The show is mic’d from the floor and ceiling, so you feel like you’re right in the audience. And you get Dee Snider at his absolute best. Between songs he talks in his heavy New York accent, a thousand miles a minute and completely out of breath – even with no visuals at all, you just can tell he’s giving his all from the first note.
Now, if you’re a die-hard, you might have some of these tracks as many of them were released on the b-side of UK singles but even if you do have a lot of the tunes (which I would bet that 90% of us do not), half the tracks have been unreleased. And really the best moments of the disc for me are the moments that Dee talks to the audience. This is a guy that knew how to command an audience. There are some singers you wish would just shut up and play music as there’s only so many times they can say “how ya doin'” before it gets old, but Dee could have been talking for hours and it would be worth it. I don’t want to give too much away as part of the fun is listening to his rants for the first time and totally feelin’ the vibe he’s throwing off but during the band introductions he starts off with Pero by rappin’ about the bottle he just got hit in the face with and calls the dude that threw it a “wimp, pussy, motherfuckin’ bastard” and asks the audience to point him out so the band can “kick his fuckin’ ass.” And at the end of “Bad Boys (of Rock ‘N’ Roll)” he points out it’s being recorded and that the audience can get on the disc by shouting anything they want, like “fuck you” or “eat shit” and gets a big chant of “I’m a sick motherfucker” going.
And wait, back to the music. The version of “Destroyer” here might be the best one I’ve ever heard from the band. “Bad Boys” and the blistering riffs of “Under the Blade” are simply fantastic as well. The whole thing is just a tremendous shot of energy that makes me wish even more that I had been ready to rock with these dudes way back when.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the liner notes by journalist, Malcolm Dome and the fact that the packaging of the disc is in a cardboard sleeve in the shape of the Twister Sister logo. It’s one of those things that gets a hardcore vinyl collector like me excited – seriously, it’s fucking cool looking like back in the days when cover art meant something.
If you love rock ‘n’ fucking roll, pick this up from Rhino. It’s well worth the money.