Shane’s Rock Challenge: TWISTED SISTER – 1982 – Under The Blade
By Shane Pinnegar
Twisted Sister had been treading the boards of every shitty New York State club for the better part of a decade with a variety of line-ups by the time they went to England to record their debut album with UFO’s legendary wildman and sometimes-bassist Pete Way producing. They had only a couple of independent singles under their belt at this time, but with the addition of drummer A J Pero in 1982 the line-up finally clicked and the time was right for them to take a shot at the prize.
And what a debut it is – obviously more suited to the UK scene at the time, in the grip of NWOBHM fever as it was, Under The Blade was as spikily metal as their image was a grotesque stomping of the glam rock and glitter image. The US would take a couple of years to catch on, but Under The Blade scored Twisted Sister a major label deal with Atlantic Records.
What You Don’t Know crashes out of the gate, scarily tackling one of Snider’s favourite subjects: the serial killer. Bad Boys (Of Rock n’ Roll) and Shoot ‘Em Down are early metal highlights, with a bubblegum edge to the former and a touch of AC/DC to the latter. The experience of the bands hundreds of club gigs shows in their economical and razor-sharp playing.
Under The Blade itself caused controversy when the bored housewives of the PMRC named it as a target in their crusade against good music, citing its references to sadomasochism and rape. Singer – and lyricist – Dee Snider has always insisted (including in testimony to a US Senate Committee in censoring music releases) that the song was about guitarist Eddie Ojeda needing an operation on his throat, and the fear that can be instilled in a person when they go ‘under the blade’ on an operating table.
Snider was one of the only musicians to have the balls to front up to the Committee hearing (alongside Frank Zappa and John Denver, no less) to take a stand against the shining, over-indulged senator’s wives, and eloquently presented rock n’ roll’s case against censorship. [A TV movie called Warning: Parental Advisory was made about the case, starring Snider as himself, alongside Jason Priestley and Mariel Hemmingway. Check it out, it’s not bad at all.]
Destroyer’s ponderous riff lends it an epic, holocaustic vibe, while Tear It Loose is another fast paced and catchy number that owes a small debt to AC/DC, and features a guitar solo by Motorhead’s Fast Eddie Clarke.
Under The Blade might surprise some people only familiar with the more bubblegum-era Twisted Sister – it’s heavy, it’s uncompromising, it’s raw and it’s bloody good.
Filed Under: Shane's Rock Challenge
About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE