Release DetailsLABEL Razor & Tie Records
RELEASED ON 10/17/2006
A Twisted Christmas
posted on 10/2006 By:
Dee Snider’s always seemed like a decent enough guy—in addition to the first couple Twisted Sister albums being solid stuff back in the old days, there was the whole taking on the PMRC thing, and he’s always good on the Stern show. Plus he did a whole lot better with Strangeland than I ever thought he would. The point is, that because of this, when hearing the band was going to release a Christmas album (a farewell Christmas album at that) what would have been my normal reaction—a wholly cynical and derisive chortle--was somewhat lessened by a kind of head shaking “ain’t it a shame” sort of feeling. Signing on for a project like this is the equivalent of agreeing to be on Celebrity Fit Club. It’s too bad that ex-celebs and not-quite celebs are in such a need of money, attention, or both, that they willingly subject themselves to public pride swallowing in ways I’m sure they once thought were out of the question. It must be a cold reality to realize that the public isn’t interested in you doing what made you a public figure to begin with. Ironically enough, Twisted Sister continues to make the same mistake that effectively brought their metal star crashing back to earth nearly immediately after the band became a household name. Call it the “Leader of the Pack” phenomenon. Metal fans were patient with the band’s remedial rock and cartoonish images of the band’s biggest hits, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock”—songs so simple KISS point and laugh. But the band embraced that whole “hey mainstream America, we’re just a loveable bunch of dirtbags” role so enthusiastically that they forgot how to write the songs that made the rest of Stay Hungry, along with their first two albums, worth the attention of actual metal fans. Their decision to cover and release as a single the 50’s The Shangri-Las hit “Leader of the Pack” was a nightmarish career move that placed the final nail in the band’s credibility coffin, and with fans moving on and the video hounds moving to another flavor of the day, the band only managed one more album, 1987’s weak Love is For Suckers. For the last twenty years the band has been living off its fifteen minutes, releasing (on varying labels) a staggering seven greatest hits and other collections (Not bad for a band with five albums), and a pair of live albums and a video. Plus, they rerecorded their 1984 breakthrough Stay Hungry in 2004. So what do you do when you’ve picked clean the bones of your entire body of work? You sign off with one last shameless cash grab hurrah. To be expected. Doing so with a Christmas album? Not so expected.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this album has as much business being reviewed as, well, as a metal band (past or present) does make a frigging Christmas album. It has zero appeal as a metal album (“heavy” never enters the equation), and only marginally more as a Twisted Sister album—it’s more like Dee Snider karaoke aimed at the VH1 I Love the 80’s 30-something audience. But I’ll also admit that I did enjoy this more than I thought I would. This is actually surprisingly a decent execution of a true train wreck of a concept. Now, that’s a long way from being an endorsement, but still, the band’s keep it simple hard rock and 80’s metal treatment of these Christmas classics occasionally manages to bring a big dumb grin to your face, in spite of your best true metal Scrooge-like efforts. The secret, of course (um, making it NOT a secret), is rolling with it. Lighten up, and take it for what it is. In fact, I’ve reviewed worse, and as covers go I’d listen to this six times for every spin of Six Feet Under’s Back in Black tribute, Graveyard Classics 2. I’d welcome a picante enema sooner than endure that again. I digress—anyway, the uptempo tracks like “Deck the Halls” and “Let it Snow” have the most success, and Snider and Co. add a few clever turns, like the Ramones nod (“Ho ho ho, let’s go!) during “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and delivering “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” to the music of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (reminds me of high school, when I learned that you can sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” perfectly to Judas Priest’s “Heading Out to the Highway”). There’s also a power ballad treatment of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” done as a duet with Lita Ford, and a goofy metal reworking of the “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, which brings on the first day of Christmas, “a tattoo of Ooozzyyyy”. A Twisted Christmas might make a good gag gift or a stocking stuffer for that middle aged dirtbag in your life, and as I said, turned out better than I would have guessed. But a little of this goes a LONG way, and I can’t recommend it even as a novelty item to the readers of this site, the majority of whom were still in diapers when Twister Sister released an album. It was okay to give the promo a free test drive, but overall, the only acceptable response to this has gotta be: We’re not gonna pay for it, no we ain’t gonna pay for it! We’re not gonna…ah, screw it, you get the idea.
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