Stay Hungry

Twisted Sister

Atlantic Records, 1984

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Twisted Sister has often been viewed as the bastard child of heavy metal, especially in the last few years. They were the clown princes to some people: grown men dressed up like they went through Madonna's closets and processed them through a meat grinder, singing songs which gave the finger to parental authority and the status quo.

But people have conveniently forgotten something about Twisted Sister over the years: these guys were actually pretty damn good. Their third album (and quite possibly their best-known), Stay Hungry, is a prime example of that. Once you drop all the hype surrounding the band and the controversy over them (especially Dee Snider's testimony in Congress against the PMRC), you're left with a very enjoyable album, even after 16 years on the market.

Let's get the best-known songs out of the way first. "We're Not Gonna Take It" - ah, the '80s update of what The Who sang about in my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Tommy. Think about it for a minute: both songs rally against an all-controlling, oppresive authority figure. Both call for the oppressed group to strike out and think for themselves. It's just that Twisted Sister doesn't give the parents a chance to respond (and at least no one returns to a world of deafness and blindness as The Who's version does). As a song, it's admittedly a bit fluffish - especially in the guitar solo. As an anthem, it still rings out, even as I approach the big three-oh.

The follow-up single, "I Wanna Rock," is simply a lot of fun, even today. It's another rebellion against parents who just don't understand, albeit not as revolutionary. It's more explanatory - knowing full well the message will go over the authority figures' heads. (Word of advice: if you remember the video, don't try to repeat the scene where kids are slamming their heads into lockers. My buddy who now lives in Florida and I tried that once, and he nearly brained himself doing so. I still have the audio-tape of that moment in time, Ryan.)

Yet Stay Hungry is much more than these two hit singles. The two-song suite that makes up "Horror-Teria (The Beginning)", "Captain Howdy" and "Street Justice," is a powerful selection that explains how Snider was able to transform one character into his movie Strangeland. "Captain Howdy" is a captivating (while not gruesome) picture of someone who manipulates his victims into his own world of torture and murder. Frankly, it doesn't need to be on the graphic side; the listener's mind fills in details much better than if Snider had spelled them out. The second part, "Street Justice," is a call to arms in defense of victims of society and against those who know how to manipulate the system. No, in reality the band isn't calling for mob action. But they do challenge us to not accept the status quo and to work for change in our society.

For the most part, Stay Hungry remains a powerful album from start to finish. Only on "The Beast" do things grow a bit weak - and, as mentioned before, as enjoyable as "We're Not Gonna Take It" is, it is a bit on the fluff side. Still, this disc has a lot more going for it than people might be willing to admit - and it remains a disc that should be a must-own for anyone who enjoys '80s metal.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.