As a teenager growing up on Long Island in the late 70s and early 80s, Twister Sister were local legends to me – this was years before the rest of the world discovered them via MTV. Along with Kiss and the Ramones, they were the quintessential New York band, true Empire State rock ‘n’ roll royalty!
Almost 40 years and 10,000 gigs later, they are still one of the greatest live bands on earth and Dee Snider is one of the greatest frontmen in the history of rock.
When A.J. Pero tragically passed away last March, I didn’t hesitate a single moment when asked if I could help out with the remaining confirmed shows on their calendar. Not only because I love the band and will always be an S.M.F. at heart… but most importantly, because A.J. was my friend and I want to honour his memory and the band’s legacy.
It has been my absolute honour to help out my fellow Long Island rock ‘n’ roll saviours on the final chapter of their incredible 40 year journey.
WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW (SURE CAN HURT YOU) (Under The Blade, 1982)
This is the perfect Twisted Sister show opener (“Good evening, welcome to our show…”), made even more dramatic with the light show setting the stage perfectly; everybody except Dee in the dark until the first chorus kicks in.
UNDER THE BLADE (Ruff Cuts, 1982)
This was always my favourite Twisted song back in the early ‘80s. I even remember all the drum fills from the original version on the Ruff Cuts EP (with Tony Petri on drums), and the later version that became the title track on their debut album.
TEAR IT LOOSE (Under The Blade, 1982)
Really, this is where speed metal began! When this came out, only bands like Accept and Motörhead were doing songs this fast (‘Fast’ Eddie Clark even plays on the album track). And this, remember was all still before Metallica! At my second show with the band this summer, the encore song was supposed to be Come Out and Play, but while we were off stage with the intro tape running, the guys changed the song at the last minute to Tear It Loose instead. I was like: YES!
YOU CAN’T STOP ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll, 1983)
One of the all time great Twisted classics, a true rock ‘n’ roll anthem! And also one of the earliest heavy metal music videos I remember ever seeing.
LIKE A KNIFE IN THE BACK (You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll, 1983)
This one’s a bit more of a sleeper track. I love the bass fills at the end of each chorus! Mark ‘The Animal’ Mendoza is really an incredibly underrated bass player.
I AM (I’M ME) (You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll, 1983)
This was their first hit single in the UK. This song just has to make the list!
WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT (Stay Hungry, 1984)
The one that catapulted them from local New York heroes to multi-platinum worldwide rock stars. It broke through during the golden age of MTV. Honestly, it’s not one of my favourites, but it is the song that the entire world associates with the band. So it has to be included!
I WANNA ROCK (Stay Hungry, 1984)
Following the success of We’re Not Gonna Take It, this was the perfect follow-up. The one-two punch took them to superstardom levels. This still brings the house down each and every night.
BURN IN HELL (Stay Hungry, 1984)
This is actually my favourite song off the Stay Hungry album – and also one of my favourites to play live. It’s very dramatic with Dee falling to the ground and then crawling back up drenched in red lights. And then the pyro and flames go off throughout the choruses.
THE PRICE (Stay Hungry, 1984)
This is the best power ballad in the band’s catalogue and the one moment in the live show to catch your breath. It’s now taken on a whole new meaning with A.J.’s passing and is a very emotional moment during the current live show.
S.M.F. (Stay Hungry, 1984)
As What You Don’t Know… is the quintessential Twisted Sister opener, S.M.F. is the quintessential closer. So many of their songs are anthems, and this is the anthem for all sick motherfuckers around the world!
COME BACK (Stay Hungry, 1984)
I had to pick one song from the club days as that was such a huge part of the band’s story – and my history with them dates back to then as well. I picked this one as its one of their very first songs, but also could’ve gone with Rock ‘N’ Roll Saviors or Pay The Price, or You Know I Cry or Ladies Boy or I’ll Never Grow Up Now or….
Mike Portnoy was speaking to Malcolm Dome. For more information on Twisted Sister, visit their official website.