|Twisted Sister - Live at Wacken: The Reunion|
|Written by Dan Macintosh|
|Tuesday, 28 June 2005|
At one memorable point here, Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider compliments his Wacken, Germany audience -- and the community of heavy metal fans in general -- on their steadfast loyalty. But in order to slog though this double-sided, video/audio disc, you’d have to be either a Twisted Sister diehard, a bad heavy metal junkie, or just plain hard up for entertainment. Calling this project “entertainment,” in fact, may be far too kind a word for it. Rather, this disc offers a slightly better way to kill time than, say, suicide or self-mutilation. But even if you chose “Live At Wacken” over your favorite method of violent self-destruction, you might still end up punishing yourself over such a poor decision. Simply ending it all might be a better move than putting yourself through this miserable reunion document.
Twisted Sister is a five-piece band that broke up in 1987 and reunited in 2003. But do we really care? This was the band, after all, that only had a few minor MTV hits with “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock,” back in the ‘80s. To paraphrase the film “The Rutles,” Twisted Sister created a legend that would last a lunchtime. This was not, however, a group that made any kind of a lasting impression upon the culture at large. Had Snider not dressed himself in outlandishly bad female makeup, we might not even remember Twisted Sister today at all. And had MTV not been so desperate for something, anything, Snider and the boys may not have ever even gotten on TV. But we can only dream.
It is against this backdrop of overwhelming historical apathy that Twisted Sister members tell their career story, in between concert clips drawn from the Wacken show. But the act’s story is so dull that one would suspect that VH-1’s “Behind The Music” would reject it outright. Granted, these are not bad guys, and their good side is best symbolized by their charity performances at a New York Steel Benefit show shortly after 9/11 and the group’s U.S.O. tour right around the beginning of the Iraqi war. But Twisted Sister is just a simple metal band, after all, and not a very good one at that.
To sit in as this B-level band seriously discusses the troubles that led to its eventual break-up is purely Spinal Tap-esque. Some really bad things must have torn them asunder, but they never actually say what these specific bad things were/are. We must just take their word for it, I guess. But if we don’t know the circumstances that separated these musicians back in 1987, how can we truly appreciate their reunion?
The group’s musical deficiencies are readily apparent during the concert audio portion of this package, which is drawn from various 1980, 1982 and 2003 shows. At one particular 1980 show, for instance, the group turns in one of the worst-ever covers of “Born To Be Wild.” Steppenwolf’s original version of the tune was filled with crazy possibilities – that’s how it’s become a classic rock staple -- whereas Twisted Sister nearly bludgeons the thing to death with unfulfilled expectations.
For what it’s worth, and it ain’t worth too much, this video segment presents a few of Twisted Sister’s better-known songs. So if you dare, you can see the group plodding its way through works like “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” This is working-class, meat and potatoes heavy metal, at best. It’s not the musically ambitious stuff one usually associates with Eddie Van Halen, nor is it the kind of dark lyrical rumination one finds in the best Metallica work. You can watch it with the sound down, or turn your head away, but it’s hard to tell which move is worse. There seems to be no lesser of two evils involved here.
Granted, this DVD (plus) format offers consumers something more than what is usually found on typical DualDiscs. For instance, the video portion is 105 minutes in length, and the music side is 75 minutes long, whereas the video sides of DualDiscs contain far less musical/audio content. But what’s the point of having plentiful video, when it hurts so much just to watch it? It’s possible to love the format but hate the subject matter, you know. But why couldn’t the Eagle Vision folks have chosen an artist that was easier on the ears and eyes? Another artist – any artist!
Just for clarification, reunions aren’t inherently evil things. For instance, who wasn’t overjoyed when Steely Dan finally got back together and made up for all its lost touring time? Or how about all those punk rock kids who finally got a chance to witness the reunited Sex Pistols? Geez, I think even Queen’s upcoming tour without its outlandish front man Freddie Mercury is a higher-demand item than these dopes.
Most painful of all is the way this group takes itself so seriously and how it is still unbelievably beloved by some (many?). But what is this screwy perception based upon? Fan letters? Hits on its website? Big egos that will not die? (Probably.)
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the world would be a far better place if Twisted Sister had in reality existed as somebody’s imaginary sister, instead. The knowledge that this New Jersey band is for real, and in honest-to-goodness demand in Europe, ought to fill every thinking person with morbidly apocalyptic thoughts. When people say things like “The end is near,” they aren’t supposed to be talking about somebody’s stinky backside. But in this case, they are. The butt we have in plain view is the ugly, pimply mound of skin and fat that’s called Twisted Sister.