It was a bold rally call. Are you feeling the fire, are you ready to explode? Are your dreams and desires riding down an open road? And for a misunderstood, long-haired, denim-clad generation looking for its voice, the lyrics of evangelical rock frontman, Dee Snider, provided a powerful challenge — a mighty word of encouragement. Simply put, Twisted Sister was the right band, with the right message, at the right time. And 35 years ago this week (May 10, 1984), the Long Island-based brigade released the right record.
Twisted Sister played by their own rules. Their linebackers-in-drag look combined with a tough-as-nails sound should have been an impossible sell — especially during the Quaalude-fueled, disco-crazed era of the mid ‘70s. But they made it work — building a fervent following on the New York / New Jersey rock scene. Their brutal 1982 full-length debut record, Under the Blade was a proverbial “turd” in the global pop music “punch bowl.” But they made it work.
Twisted Sister remained determined. Diligent in their pursuit of global domination — they “stayed hungry.” Despite their off-putting, garish image, the band oozed a certain streetwise sensibility that was beginning to resonate with their now growing worldwide base — a point proven by the moderate breakout success of their 1983 sophomore set, You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll.
Peep then extended version of Twisted Sister’s classic “We’re Not Gonna Take it” music video.
It was becoming clear in rather short order, that although they looked like cheap bar hags, if you found yourself in a bar fight, you’d definitely want Twister Sister on your side, ‘cuz someone would be getting an ass beating — and it sure as heck wouldn’t be them. And by the spring of 1984, the international floodgates were ready to be opened wide.
Overseen by veteran producer, Tom Werman (Ted Nugent, Cheap Trick, Mötley Crüe, Blue Öyster Cult, Poison), Stay Hungry confirmed what growing legions knew already — Twisted Sister possessed a unique quality that many of their contemporaries lacked — musical integrity and great songs. Reaching #15 on the Billboard album chart, the gutsy, guitar-driven juggernaut was packed perfectly with teen-targeted, Snider-penned rock anthems. It has since gone on to sell over six million copies.
Campy, cartoonish videos made the singles, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock,” enormously popular MTV mainstays. And in the process, Twisted Sister became an overnight household name.
A great press shot of the band in their trademark wardrobe circa 1984.
But while the aforementioned singles have proven timeless over the years as sporting event staples and the soundtrack to myriad TV commercials, it can be argued that neither are the pick of this nine-pup litter. That distinction belongs to “The Price” — the monstrous power ballad dealing with coming to grips with fame.
Also noteworthy, “Horror-Teria (The Beginning): A) Captain Howdy B) Street Justice” — a suite that would inspire Snider’s 1998 Strangeland film project. Other highlights include the infectious, bouncy sing-along “Don’t Let Me Down,” the heart-stopping title track and the unifying, angst-ridden battle cry, “S.M.F.”
Contrary to Snider’s future complaints regarding the record’s “weak” production quality, it also can be argued that Stay Hungry sounded EXACTLY as it should have. The crunchy precision of Jay Jay French and Eddie Ojeda’s melodic dual guitar work was masterful. The trashcan sound of the late A.J. Pero’s authentic, garage-birthed drum style was equally appealing and impressive. And the throaty, rock-ribbed bass tracks from Mark Mendoza provided supah-sah-weet icing on the gluten-laden treat.
In sum, 35 years on, Stay Hungry remains an important record for Twisted Sister and fans alike — still packing a punch and pissing off the neighbors as much as ever. And if they think that we’re sick, then sick is what we’ll be, indeed.
An anthem for millions the world over, this is the video for “I Wanna Rock.”
Stay Hungry Track Listing:
01. Stay Hungry – 3:03
02. We’re Not Gonna Take It – 3:38
03. Burn in Hell – 4:43
04. Horror-Teria (The Beginning): a) Captain Howdy b) Street Justice – 7:45
05. I Wanna Rock – 3:06
06. The Price – 3:48
07. Don’t Let Me Down – 4:26
08. The Beast – 3:30
09. S.M.F. – 3:01
Run Time 36:58
Release Date May 10, 1984
Record Label Atlantic