By Jason Wellwood
It’s always exciting when a Twisted Sister product arrives at the Wellwood household, but even more so when I had no idea it was coming out! Eagle Rock is definitely doing its damndest to make sure that no one forgets Twisted Sister this year! Between the reissues of all of their out of print albums (everything except Stay Hungry was reissued this year…Universal isn’t letting go of the rights to that one!) and the flood of DVD’s coming out, Twisted Sister hasn’t seen this much activity in probably 20 years! I’ve already reviewed two of the DVD’s found in this 5 DVD box set, namely Live At Wacken: The Reunion and Double Live (which is actually 2 shows, and 2 DVDs so it counts as 2 in this set…I don’t want you to be confused!). So, I’m going to stick to reviewing the two that I haven’t had a chance to talk about yet: Live At Reading 1982 and A Twisted Xmas Live In Las Vegas. The latter being the only previously unreleased DVD in the set, and the former having been released as part of the Under the Blade reissue this year.
Live At Reading 1982: If ever there was a band destined to be huge, it was Twisted Sister. This DVD starts off the way all live DVD’s should: great sound, great camera work, and a face tearing performance by the band. As the DVD progresses though, they move into the awesome 80’s production effects moving from camera to camera. And by awesome, I mean awful. It is indicative of the time though and good for a smirk or two as well. It’s a little stunning to see the band playing during the day to an audience who aren’t exactly fans. The bottles and poop fly, Dee calls on the entire audience and in the end…Pete Way, Fast Eddie Clarke and Lemmy all come out to jam on ‘It’s Only Rock & Roll But I Like It’…and the crowd goes wild. This is Twisted Sister at their hungriest, and their most powerful. Yes, the stage shows got better, more classic songs arrived but this is the first giant leap for the band and it’s an awesome watch. The interviews afterwards are hilarious as well. I particularly like the part where Dee Snider relates how worried the Reading folks were about him cursing and then says that in the end, he didn’t curse. Of course, this is after hearing him use a few (though fewer than normal) choice curses throughout the set. Memory is a funny thing sometimes!
A Twisted Xmas Live In Las Vegas: There are parts of this DVD that made me cringe but some of those are what made it such an great watch. Having Twisted Sister play a Christmas ‘review’ type show in Las Vegas is a hilarious idea, and of course the band played it up quite well. The only one who doesn’t seem too happy about it is bassist Mark Mendoza, but I honestly don’t think he’s happy about much. Musically, the band is 100% solid. You’d never know these guys didn’t play and tour together non-stop. As far as that goes, these guys are complete professionals and the song selection is a good mix of hits, well known tracks and the Xmas album classics. As always, the band is very self deprecating and both Dee Snider and guitarist/founder/manager Jay Jay French are very funny which helps them to connect with this Las Vegas crowd. It’s pretty obvious that some of the audience have NO idea what is happening or where they are, and at one point French remarks, ‘You thought you were getting the Trans Siberian Orchestra, sorry, you got the Trans-Sexual Siberian Orchestra’. Some parts don’t go over quite as well, particularly the ‘Satan Claus’ bit that stretches on to over 5 minutes and it should have been about 30 seconds. All in all though, this is a really fun show and puts a bit of a different light on the band, seeing them play in a seated, theatre environment.
Also included in this box set are some S.M.F. goodie: a TS Christmas tree ornament, replica backstage pass from 2001’s New York Steel benefit, a replica of the original S.M.F. fan club letter and an old school TS button for your denim jacket. Even if you already own one or two of the DVD’s in the set, this is a worthwhile trade up. If you’ve fallen behind this year and haven’t picked up any of the DVD’s then get out and grab this set! (And, of course, ‘tis the season so it makes a swell gift idea too!)
(Eagle Rock Entertainment)
For reviews of the other DVDs in the set, you can go here: http://www.hellbound.ca/2011/08/twisted-sister-double-live-dvd/ for the Double Live and here: http://www.hellbound.ca/2011/01/twisted-sister-live-at-wacken-dvd/ for the Live At Wacken: The Reunion review.