TWISTED SISTER — Stay Hungry (review)

TWISTED SISTER — Stay Hungry album cover Album · 1984 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Vim Fuego
Many a metal fan in the 1980s would tell anyone who would listen that all glam metal was for poseurs and any one of hundreds of different synonyms for homosexual. Glam metal was for poodle haired cross dressers more interested in make-up and picking up chicks than making music with any redeeming value whatsoever. By and large, this was true. Witness for example the excesses of Motley Crüe, the effete foppery of Poison, the commercialised pop/rock of Bon Jovi, and the failings of any one of a number of other bands, like Faster Pussycat, Tiger Tailz, LA Guns, Bang Tango, Great White, Ratt, ad infinitum.

Occasionally though, a glam metal band managed to produce an album masculine enough to appeal to true metal fans. W.A.S.P. managed it with two or three albums, and Motley Crüe almost achieved it with the rough and ready "Girls Girls Girls". "Stay Hungry" by Twisted Sister was another of these albums, and by far and away the most successful.

Pre-dating the decadence of the LA glam metal scene by a good few years, Twisted Sister moulded the hard rocking theatrics of Kiss and Alice Cooper to their own shape. While many bands forgot to learn the basics, like playing instruments and writing songs, with Twisted Sister, the music always came first. The outrageous image was merely a marketing tool. Iron Maiden were also wearing multi-coloured spandex in 1984, and no one was questioning their musical validity.

"Stay Hungry" will always be best remembered for the two huge singles it spawned, and their hilarious accompanying videos. `We're Not Gonna Take It' and `I Wanna Rock' are both lowest common denominator shout along anthems of simplistic teen rebellion at its basest level, but damn it, they are just so addictive, and the fun factor negates their obvious commercial intentions.

If you look past the singles though, the rest of the album is reasonably dark. You thought glam metal was all about partying and chicks and lightweight throwaway rock n’ roll? Think again. Some of the riffs would have done Judas Priest proud at the time. And while some blame glam metal for the eventual decline of the solo because the guitar players were not technically proficient enough, don't point fingers at Twisted Sister- try Mick Mars and CC De Ville.

The most obvious starting point to illustrate the dark side is the creepy double shot of `Horror-Teria'. First up, `Captain Howdy' explores the psyche of a deranged child killer, not unlike Freddy Krueger. "You think you're going home to your own little bed/ But that's impossible, you can't sleep when you're dead". Captain Howdy was caught and tried for his crimes, but wasn't convicted, so a lynch mob formed and meted out `Street Justice'. "Now before you shake your head/ Think if it was your child instead". While not the deepest, most meaningful pair of songs ever, would any of Twisted Sister's contemporaries have stopped thinking about their dicks long enough to produce songs like these? `Burn In Hell', `The Beast', `Don't Let Me Down' and `The Price also have negative lyrical themes, exploring where things and people fit in the world. `Burn In Hell' and `The Beast' would not seem out of place on a traditional Metal album, while `The Price' is an Ozzy-esque power ballad.

Although not the heaviest album ever, look carefully in the hidden corners of many a metal fan's collection and you might just find the familiar picture of Dee Snider feasting on a bone. "Stay Hungry" was perhaps the greatest entry-level metal album of the early 1980s, and deservedly so.
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