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"Big Hits and Nasty Cuts - The Best of Twisted Sister" is a compilation album by American heavy metal band, Twisted Sister. It was released in 1992 on Atlantic Records and produced by Tom Werman. The band members on the album were Dee Snider (vocals), Jay Jay French (guitar), Eddie Odeja (guitar), Mark Mendoza (bass) and A. J. Pero (drums).
Twisted Sister's songs have always been about fun and celebrating rock. This album is no different. With best loved favourites, new songs and some live tracks, there is a little bit of everything. The album received a PMRC Parental Advisory sticker for explicit lyrics. Most of the songs are high energy metal with a couple slightly slower, yet metal songs and one power ballad. Whether singing his metal lungs out, or crooning a power ballad, Dee Snider's voice seems to be well suited to either. Although they were lumped in with the glam and hair metal bands because of their image, one listen of this album will prove they are far heavier and definitely more metal than they were given credit for being.
The PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) was founded by Tipper Gore, wife of then U.S. senator and later vice-president Al Gore, and three other Washington wives in 1985 with the goal of increasing parental control over what their children listen to via censorship and/or labelling. The group eventually grew to 22 members. In August 1985, 19 record companies agreed to put warning labels on their products to warn of explicit lyrics. In order to deem what was considered explicit, a special Senate hearing was held, beginning 19 September, 1985, with witnesses from both sides being allowed to speak. The most outspoken of the witnesses for the opposition was Twisted Sister's frontman, Dee Snider. Even folk singer John Denver spoke out against censorship. His song, "Rocky Mountain High" had been put under scrutiny a few times over the years and accused of being a drug song when it had nothing to do with drugs. In reality, all the 'Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics' sticker did was make the music and videos more appealing to underage kids because they were suddenly flagged as taboo.
"We're Not Gonna Take It" is one of metal's most instantly recognisable songs and has become an anthem for teens not happy with the rules of home and school, and adults who are tired of the way they are treated on the job. With thundering drums and great guitar riffs, and lyrics that are relevant generation after generation, it is a song with staying power. The song made it onto the PMRC's "Filthy Fifteen" list, with the reasoning of 'violent lyrical content'. Songs were chosen for their list for content deemed to include sexual lyrics, objectionable language, themes of drug and/or alcohol abuse, or themes of the occult. While it is a great rock and roll rebellion song, the lyrics are hardly violent.
"I Wanna Rock" is also an anthem for rock and metal fans. It sums all the feelings of how we'd rather be rocking than working, going to school or doing mundane chores, into one fist pumping chant of 'I wanna rock'. The drums crash and the guitars wail on this one. Although it is a shorter song, it rocks hard and makes every note count.
"I Am (I'm Me)" is a heavy metal affirmation of living your life for yourself on your own terms. The drums really thump on this one. The guitars follow a melody but still manage to really rock, and it is a great song for showcasing Snider's vocals.
"The Price" is a power ballad with a guitar and drum intro. With a deeper meaning than their other songs, it is has passionate vocals that really set the feeling of the song. It is unexpected given that it is so much slower and deep than their other songs, but is a well performed and enjoyable departure from the norm.
"You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll" begins with a thundering intro and is fast paced, with high energy, all the way through. The chorus is a great, fist pumping celebration of rock music. The repetitive ending chant of 'You can't stop, can't stop it' feels like a warning to the PMRC and other groups to stop bothering because they will never kill off rock music with their censorship.
"The Kids Are Back" is a heavy but fun song. It has the feel that teens can change the world in a positive way if people would just give them the chance. With thundering, crashing drums, and a military march sound effect, you can almost feel kids marching through the streets.
"Shoot 'Em Down" begins with a high energy intro of guitar and drums. The lyrics tell of people who are all about getting themselves ahead in life and don't care who they step on or hurt along the way. I love the chorus, which is simple and to the point.
"Under the Blade" is another song the PMRC went nuts on as one of the many 'objectionable' songs. The song is about surgery, and the fear it can instill in people. Released as a single in 1979, it was used as the title track for Twisted Sister's debut album in 1982. It was inspired by Eddie Ojeda's throat surgery at the time. The PMRC's idea was that the song was about bondage, sadomasochism and rape. This is one of the things that lead Dee Snider to give testimony before the Senate hearing. On the subject of "Under the Blade" he stated "Ms. Gore was looking for sadomasochism and bondage, and she found it. Someone looking for surgical references would have found it as well." Snider concluded with the statement "The full responsibility for defending my children falls on the shoulders of my wife and I, because there is no one else capable of making these judgments for us."
"I'll Never Grow Up, Now!" is light with heavy undertones. It is catchy with a sing along chorus. The song is a fun poke at all the people who insist that rock and metal fans grow up and act their age, as if the music you listen to determines everything about you as a person.
"Bad Boys of Rock 'n' Roll" begins with a drum into guitar intro. It is a metal song with a melody, and an interesting song because the lyrics are all about metal, but the song is a bouncy metal/pop hybrid. It could easily have been another heavy metal anthem like "We're Not Gonna Take It" had it been heavier. It is still a good song, but it could have been brilliant.
"What You Don't Know (Sure Can Hurt You)" (Live) is an all out fun rock song. With a fast pace and high energy, it never slows down. Songs like this were just meant to be performed live. Lyrics say that they are more than people expect of them, and they are giving proof that they are much more metal than their image.
"Destroyer" (Live) begins with a choppy, heavy guitar intro, letting you know you are about to have your ears blown off. Dee's voice perfectly matches the song, with a fierce growl to it that lends itself to the overall sound of the song. There is an angry feel to the song, as you would expect with a title like "Destroyer".
"Tear it Loose" (Live) has a machine gun fire drum intro into all out mayhem when the guitars and bass come in. It is a super high energy track that never wavers, all the way through. It is one of those songs just meant to be played live and loud. After you've worked hard all day, you just want to cut loose, have some fun and rock, and this song is perfect for that.
"It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" (Live) - is far better than the Stones' version. Their version is far too 'nice' and tame, making it feel more of a family sing along than a celebration of your love of rock music. If you are singing about rock, blast it out and let the song actually rock. Twisted Sister get it right, making it faster, heavier and putting far more energy into it.
"Let the Good Times Roll" (Live) is another song that is meant to be performed live and loud for maximum benefit. Things start off with a thundering drum intro, and there are more crashing drums in the middle, and yet more at the end. The song is very fast paced with lots of energy.
In summary, you can get a great selection of tried and true Twisted Sister favourites and some newer, just as great material in one place on this album. By putting some studio tracks and some live tracks, you get the best of both worlds. The only thing I might have changed was to put a live version of "We're Not Gonna Take It" instead of a studio version. Although it is still fast paced and hard rocking in the studio, when it is performed live it is a true celebration of all things loud and metal. Contrary to what the PMRC might have thought, the songs on this album, along with Twisted Sister's other albums, will not rot your brain or cause you to be a miscreant, unless, of course, you were before you listened to them. I'd suggest heading on out to buy this album, turning your speakers full volume, and celebrating the joy that is metal.
1. We're Not Gonna Take It
2. I Wanna Rock
3. I Am (I'm Me)
4. The Price
5. You Can't Stop Rock 'n' Roll
6. The Kids Are Back
7. Shoot 'Em Down
8. Under the Blade
9. I'll Never Grow Up, Now!
10. Bad Boys of Rock 'N' Roll
11. What You Don't Know (Sure Can Hurt You) (Live)
12. Destroyer (Live)
13. Tear it Loose (Live)
14. It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (Live)
15. Let the Good Times Roll (Live)
My rating: 8/10
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 We're Not Gonna Take It
2 I Wanna Rock
3 I Am (I'm Me)
4 The Price
5 You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll
6 The Kids Are Back
7 Shoot 'Em Down
8 Under The Blade
9 I'll Never Grow Up, Now!
10 Bad Boys (Of Rock 'N' Roll)
11 What You Don't Know Sure Can Hurt You (Live Version)
12 Destroyer (Live Version)
13 Tear It Loose (Live Version
14 Run For Your Life (Live Version)
15 It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (Live Version)
16 Let The Good Times Roll/Feel So Fine (Live Version)