ISSUE 17 JUNE 1982

That’s Twisted Sister. But as lead singer Dee Snider says to DANTE BONUTTO: ‘you don’t pull a chick while we’re on’

A FEW weeks ago a letter appeared in Kerrang! admonished us for our neglect. “As you’re Britain’s loudest rock may I’m surprised you haven’t had a Twisted Sister article, “it chided, having already implied that we probably hadn’t heard of the New York band at all.

This was too much. Our raucous references called into question, our crank-it-up credentials placed in doubt. Honour demanded an immediate response, and so it was that, gauntlet firmly grasped, I found myself making the hour long drive from NY to Connecticut with Jay Jay French and Eddie Ojeda (the Sister’s six-string strike force) quizzing me on the state of Brit rock and tour manager Joe Atlantis steady at the wheel.

The venue for tonight’s gig is the Agora Ballroom, New Haven, the most presentable on the circuit, and after six years doing the rounds the band are familiar with them all. Jay Jay it was who set the Sister in motion following a brief spell with Wicked Lester, a Three Dog Night influenced outfit containing nascent Kiss Kerrangsters Simmons and Stanley (he’s got a tape of ‘She’ complete with violins, keyboards and flutes, no kidding!) and though, as mentioned in the last issue of Kerrang!, it’s only recently the band have gained record company support, their pre-deal years were far from idly spent.

To date they’ve released two self-financed singles, ‘Under The Blade’ produced by Eddie Kramer and ‘Bad Boys Of Rock’N’Roll’ produced by Rob Freeman who recently sat at the desk for the hugely successful Go-Go’s album, drawn some 12,000 people into their fan club, a debauched version of the Kiss Army known (officially) as the Sick Motherf–king Friends of Twisted Sister, and acquired their own lighting rig and PA. These are no juke-joint amateurs. Having headlined 4,000 seaters and moved up into arenas to support the likes of Priest, SOC and Jefferson Starship, they’ve enough clout to ensure that their services are properly rewarded. A two set show, two to three times a week is now enough to keep them ticking over.

‘Walk around here on your own and you’ll be left with nothing but your accent,” warns Jay Jay as we pull up outside the Agora. Windswept and inhospitable, New Haven looks assured of one star status in the Michelin Mayhem Guide, but a few hours on and doubts about the city’s r’n’r potential prove nothing more than first Impression folly.

‘TWISTED SISTER! TWISTED SISTER!” While the non-committed and the hopelessly non-plussed, (‘tourists’ inTS terminology) cower in the Agora’s darker recesses, chanting card-holding SMFs, some local some not, besiege the front of the stage. Their call to arms is swiftly answered. Vocalist Dee Snider, a stack-heeled Mae West/Dave Lee Roth hybrid, leads the band onstage and the greatest, grossest spectacle on the tri-state circuit careers into action.

More than cosmetic castaways from a bygone glam era, this now legendary five-piece both shock and disorientate. On one side there’s the image, the vampish attire and crudely painted make-up, and on the other the music, delivered with a primal feel exemplified in the roughly hewn bass chords of one-time Dictator Mark ‘The Animal’ Mendoza. Add to this Dee Snider’s sardonic wit and off the cuff crowd abuse and you have a band that remains of interest despite the fact that halt its repertoire consists of covers. ‘Sweet Leaf’, ‘Crazy Train’, ‘Problem Child’, ‘Grinder’, all are sacrosanct and hammered home with note-for-note efficiency.

“The thing is people don’t come to the clubs to hear original rock’n’roll they expect bands to play music that they know, 100 per cent. We’re one of the few outfits that get away with a 50/50 thing – halt our own songs and half covers.”

Backstage, fresh from the evening’s first 40 minute salvo, Dee Snider busily works rouge into a hollow cheek. His eyes remain fixed on the dressing room mirror yet all the time he talks with unpunctuated passion…..

“In a club like CBGBs in the City people will accept original material, but clubs like that only hold a couple of hundred people and Twisted Sister draw a thousand people a night. Also, the original clubs don’t pay much money so if you want to make a living and you don’t want to work in a factory you’ve got to play some cover material. It sucks but that’s the way it is.”

Satisfied with the facial repair, Dee makes the necessary adjustments to his costume, designed and manufactured by Mrs Snider – wife not mother. His flow, however, is unbroken.

“Another problem with the original scene in NY is that it’s all new wave (shocking pink boots are removed and tossed into a corner), there’s very little room for heavy bands. So you’ve got to come to clubs like this in order to get the HM freaks ‘cos they don’t want to mix with new wave assholes – pardon me! They don’t want to mix with that shit,”

The band may have to compromise when it comes to choice of material but in terms of what goes on between the songs they’re their own masters, Dee, an avowed crusader for the immoral majority, uses the time to bully and bludgeon his audience in an effort to make them shrug off conformist pressure and let themselves go.

“The people who stand around like mannequins from a department store re going nowhere,” he proclaims. “One day they’ll be old and grey, sitting in bed, 65 years old with a porcelain bedpan, ice-cold, catching the shit coming out of their ass, no teeth, arthritis so they can’t even jerk off, y’know. And when they look back on their lives they’re gonna want to kill themselves because they blew it. Meanwhile, all the Sick Motherf**kers are probably dead already but at least they went out with style, at least they partied their ass off to the end.”

For Dee hedonism isn’t a sin it’s an art, a point of view most exhaustively explored at the annual fan club party where 4,000 like-minded souls revel and roister with a vengeance.

“We had people jumping off a pier into the low tide at the last one,” he points out proudly, “it was wild And then we’ve got this trophy, It’s about three feet high with a toilet bowl on top and a bottle of Heineken beer in the middle, It goes to the Sickest Motherf–ker of the day. Last year it went to some guy who was wearing a lounge chair as a hat; he was beating himself up and rolling in glass so I guess he deserved it.”

Gross the Sister most certainly are, but on a circuit chock-full of hardworking hopefuls it’s the theatricality and the outrage that has brought them to the fore.

“We go for broke, black or white, no bullshit, no in-between. After being in a band at high school and playing local bars I refuse to be ignored any more. When we got this band together we started dressing outrageously and wearing lots of make-up and we turned up-the volume so you couldn’t possibly talk if you f**king tried. If you want to pick up a chick do it in your own time not when we’re onstage!

“And that’s the way it’s gotta be ‘cos either way they’re gonna talk about you. If people think we suck they’re gonna go out and go ‘that band, f–k, they’re jumping around like a bunch of assholes, loud, obnoxious’, and if you hear that on the outside you’re gonna think ‘man, I better check them out’. Like a bad car accident you don’t want to look but you always end up peeping through your fingers.”

Here Dee’s natural modesty (cough) gets the better of him. In the early days, when he took to the stage in little more than a negligee, the band had all the head-turning capacity of (at least) a motorway pile-up and audience reaction was sometimes a little too extreme.

“We were playing one club,” he recalls, “and some motherf**ker threw a bottle at me. So I started looking but couldn’t find him. Finally, I said ‘if you’ve got half of one ball, not one ball, not two balls but half of one ball, you’ll tell me who you are’. I said ‘listen. You’re a wimp, your father’s a wimp and your mother’s a wimp,’ and that was it. This guy’s finger went up and he started shouting ‘F**K YOU! F**K YOU!”
By this point Dee has gone supersonic. Striding back and forth, hands clapping for emphasis, his words take shape at such a pace that interruption becomes impossible. All I can do is stand well back and nod occasionally in assent as the story unfolds.

It seems that an irate Snider, determined to follow in Clark Kent’s footsteps, launched himself into the audience expecting trusty minions to break his fall and shoulder him into battle. What in fact happened was that on seeing 13 stone plus of frilly slumberwear plummeting earthwards the trusty minions parted quicker than the Red Sea, a departure that left dents in both the Snider pride and anatomy.

“I went down. DOWN! Luckily, I grabbed some shoulders but my knee smashed on the ground. So I drag myself up and this maniac who threw the bottle is in a Kung Fu stance. He’s got the arms up and the fingers in a death grip, he’s gonna tear my face off. He takes a karate chop at me, I duck it, grab him round the waist and start football-ploughing him through the crowd, there’s people flying everywhere.

“I mean, I don’t get into fights as a rule, it’s usually just a push and a shove, but bottles man, that’s nowhere. If you’re gonna say ‘f–k you’ to someone at least have the decency, DECENCY, to say ‘f–k you’ to their face, don’t be a pussy hurling things through the lights. Anyway, I throw this guy down and I’m just about to smash him in the face when the bouncers arrive and carry him away. So I go back onstage and I’m a big hero, y’know, the place is going wild and l’m shaking a million hands, but the next day my leg blows up like a balloon. It was agony!”

With Dee unable to walk for a week the band had to cancel a number of shows—a rare occurrence in the TS camp. In the early days missing one night often meant losing a whole week’s money and the determined, die-hard fostered by this system remains with them to this day. Indeed, it was as a result of singing with laryngitis, which in turn resulted in a long term throat infection, that Dee acquired his distinctive gravely growl. Before his voice was relatively high-pitched.

“It was really a blessing in disguise,” he says breezily. ‘The Good Lord above looked down and said ‘so you want to be a star, huh? Where do you think you’re gonna go imitating Robert Plant, son? Here – BAM! Your voice is shot to shit now what are you gonna do asshole?”

At which point duty calls and Dee, resplendent in pink and black satin, leaves to front the second set of the evening which, if anything, is more OTT than the first. Front-line SMFs cheer and yeehah! (an appreciative outburst much favoured by US crowds) as he hurls his six foot five frame about the stage and Jay Jay, altogether more serious, steps briefly into the spotlight to announce that the Sister have finally secured a spot on network TV. YEEHAH! “OK you, don’t just stand there like a dick with ears,” snarls Dee at a ‘tourist’ not showing the required degree of euphoria, and the band launch into another fiery opus…

It’s just a shame that UK fans have so far been denied access to these gonzoid goings-on, but as the Secret Records deal was agreed on the basis that the band should record their debut album here that situation may soon be put right— and the sooner the better.

Driving back from the gig early the next morning (Jay Jay and Eddie still talking about England and Joe, as ever, at the wheel), a car pulls out behind as if to overtake then draws alongside measuring its pace with our own. Slowly, the nearside window is wound down and a spray of blond curls thrust into the chill night air. Grimacing horribly, Dee Snider (for it is he) grabs our wing mirror and, thus joined, the two cars weave along the highway until the TS songster, tired of this diversion, relinquishes his hold and speeds on ahead.

No-one, myself included, is the least bit surprised.

Reading Review SEP 1982

Then it was time for Twisted Sister and their indefatigable brand of Heavy Metal, but much as had happened to Anvil at Donington, The Sister had to endure some abuse from certain dumbos who couldn’t handle the sight of five macho-looking boys in make-up. Fortunately Dee Snider is a little more forward than shy Lips and accused those responsible of being wimps, following it with an offer of personal conflict. As the Kerrang! badge claims, this music is ‘Not For Wimps’, so the shouting soon stopped and all enjoyed a short resumé of Twisted Sister’s rock ‘n’ roll achievements to date.

‘Bad Boys Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’ and ‘Under The Blade’ were both there with a far superior sound to the one which had blighted them at the Marquee earlier, When the band were joined on stage by Lemmy, Pete Way and Eddie Clarke for a jam at the end of the show they were finally taken to everyone’s heart. About time.


Kerrang! Issue 45 – July 1983
QUARTZ: Against All Odds (Heavy Metal HMR LP9)

I SAW Quartz support Black Sabbath seven years ago and although they were called Bandylegs then they weren’t as bad as the moniker suggested. A change of name to Quartz seemed to bring about a regression in musical ability and I thought I’d seen the worst HM band ever when they toured with Gillan. Now, against all odds (pun intended) they’re back. Unbelievable.

In truth they have improved on my previous memories thanks to the arrival of a new singer named Geoff Bate. Also the production, (handled by the band themselves and Robin George) sounds very slick. Despite these two plus points though it s still pretty much “in- one-ear-out-the-other” stuff.

As ever Black Sabbath remain their idols and their sole influence. (It certainly sounds that way at least.) Tony lommi gets another sleeve credit although I can’t for the life of me understand why he involves himself in such a pale imitation of his own excellent works. Quartz guitarist Mike Hopkins sets his instrument up in virtually the exact tone as Tony’s and although some of his work is pretty good, it lacks the fire of the original. Most of the songs are built on his rehashed Sabs rifts and these don’t sound good beneath the glossy American-ised production. One saving grace is Geoff Nicholl’s keyboards (see the Sabs connection again!) but some very pedestrian drumming all but cancels out his contributions.

Side Two’s ‘Silver Wheels’ is good but too much of the rest sounds all too familiar and you’ll come to it in the knowledge that it’s all been done before and so much better! Some Black Sabbath fans might like it but I expect I’m in a majority who will find this record very dispensable.


Kerrang! Issue 45 – July 1983
WITCHFYNDE: Cloak and Dagger (Expulsion EXIT 5)

BACK from beyond the Grave (or at least from a lengthy period of inactivity), Witchfynde, once pretenders to Sabbath’s Satanic sepulchre, now find themselves well adrift of such demonstrative metallurgists as Venom and Mercyful Fate.

It’s been more than two years since the band’s last LP, ‘Stagefright’, a period which has seen them undergo considerable personnel upheavals. However, now re-grouped with two new members in Luther Beltz and Pete Surgey, they’re back with a hungry, saliva-dripping, determination.

Did I say ‘hungry’? Just listen to the opening moments of the first track ‘Devil’s Playground’. You can’t mistake the sound of a ravenous Werewolf tearing into the fresh flesh of its victim (unless, it’s Lemmy tucking into some fish ‘n’ chips). And a nasty piece of work it is, too. Certainly my hellishly fiendish hopes were stoked up for a rare gourmet treat of vintage gothic gore. But. . ‘Devil’s Playground’ turns out to be a cliché-ridden rat trap, full of the usual sinister claps of empty laughter, gloomy, sub-lommi gut wrenches and King Diamond-style yelps. In short, more a mumble-jumble than hack ‘n’ slash.
‘Crystal Gazing’ does little to elevate the blood pressure, being all stodge and no substance. Yet, from there on in, things take a dramatic turn for the better. ‘I’d Rather Go Wild’, for instance, has a distinctive, lycanthropic snap, whilst ’Somewhere To Hide’ is black metal imbued with the spirit of pop. However, the piece de resistance is saved for ‘Cloak & Dagger’. Superbly constructed out of simple, repetitive rhythms, it builds into a sustained, neck- twisting claustrophobic brutality, clubbing the senses into a twilight state of delirium.

What a pity that like everything else here, it’s spoilt by a production marginally less impressive than a gold-fish duet. Thus in common with Warlord’s ‘Deliver Us’, this is an album of good material, whose impact has been softened by a terrible recording quality.

Interview 1983
THE AIR crackled and cackled with eerie expectation. ‘The Sinister Storekeeper’ seemed to draw a deep strength from the twilight swirl of windy shadows as he intoned the plea: “rise . . . Rise RISE!!’

At first nothing stirred in the darkness. Then, as if breaking through some invisible black shackles, four figures lumbered into view, their faltering steps became ever more confident, guided by the hellish force of the electric riff. For this ain’t rock ‘n’ roll, this is rack ‘n’ ruin!

Breaking free of the nightmare, three less-than-frightening figures (guitarist Montalo, vocalist Luther Beltz – and drummer Gra Scoresby) entered the shallow portals of Kerrang! Villas to talk about how this band was nearly brought to total rack’n’ruin and
how they’ve managed to crawl back from the edge.

So, where to start. Well, ’twas in 1981 that anything significant was last heard from ‘Fynde, viz a squeak in the dark entitled ‘Stagefright’, this being the title any of their second (and final) LP for the `highly suspect’ Rondelet Records organisation. Or at
least, the band see Rondelet as being ‘highly suspect’, anyhow, as Montalo explained: “Yeah, `Give’Em Hell’, our first album, and `Stagefright’ were both good enough records, but the company simply would not back them up with any meaningful promotion.
And we hardly got any money put into us at all. Fans came along to our shows quite rightly expecting a Saxon – type big thing, yet we didn’t have the financial backing to make it happen. Our entire lighting show seemed to consist of a couple of light bulbs! We felt we were letting our fans down. “The only way out for us was to break free of our situation, ‘cos we were just banging our heads against a wall. So we set out to look for new and a fresh deal with people who believed in us. In short Witchfynde had to start all over again.”

The quartet (whose line-up is completed by absent bassist Pete Surgey) went through numerous companies before landing themselves with their present record label, Expulsion (as yet they’ve not signed to any satisfactory management). “Getting the Expulsion deal was a lifeline for us,” added Beltz. “We could have given ourselves up to a lot of dodgy over the past couple of years just to get a record out. But we held back, ‘cos we wanted to get the best possible backing and make sure our fans don’t get ripped off.”

The first vinyl release from ’em was the single ‘rd Rather Go Wild, which stunned everyone in the 8enartg! krypt by belching its way up into the Top Five of the HM chart. A success for a phenomenal troupe who’ve been away from the scene for so long

“I still think we’ve got some popularity,” suggested Scoresby. “We’ve always got a stream of letters from people all over the world asking what we’re up to. Apparently, Witchfynde records go down very well, would you believe it, in Japanese discos! But the incredible thing was, the single announcement had been made about it coming out! How people found out about it, I just dunno.
We’re all hoping the album will do equally as well.” Ah yes, the album. You might recall several issues back I was rather scathing about certain aspects of it (mainly the production side), viewing it as a good offering that lacked any polish. Well, since then it has
come to light my review tape was in point of fact an ‘nth’ generation recording, certainly not fit for review purposes. And having heard a finished copy of ‘Cloak & Dagger’ (for thus it has been baptised), my opinion must definitely be slightly revised. No, the production is still not sensational, but at least it sounds adequate, a point Montalo picked up on. “I thought you were a bit harsh on Phil Chilton (who management handled the production). We’ve known him for quite some time and he has always been one of the few guys to totally believe in what we’re doing. Indeed, without his help we might have disappeared ages ago.

“I don’t claim his work is fantastic. But then we only had a very limited budget and time. The whole thing was originally supposed to be done inside seven days, and it was only after a lot of hassle that we got another few days on top of this. So in the end, we did 14 days in the studio, working 14 hours every day, with an overall cast of something like £3,000. Considering that handicap, I think he did a very good job. If he’d had the huge resources of someone like Def Leppard, it would have been even better. I suppose, in a way, I wouldn’t want to try and make too many excuses about the problems we had in the studio, ‘cos the LP is commercially available and the public are being asked to spend as much money on ‘Cloak & Dagger’ as, say, ‘Pyromania’. Obviously then, I can’t claim the sound quality should be ignored.”

That having been said, make no mistake `C&D’ is still a solid cocktail of occult/demonic rock. Many of the numbers have genuine quality to ’em. I can even ignore the fact that Beltz sounds like a deadringer for King Diamond Billy, ‘cos he does it so well. However, can it really be overlooked that Witchfynde in their self -imposed absence, have fallen way behind the likes of Venom and Mercyful Fate in the Blank Metal stakes?

“We don’t really like comparing ourselves to these sort of bands,” answered Scoresby. “You see, we regard ourselves as contemporaries of Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Def Leppard, ‘cos they were beginning their climb upwards when ‘Give’Em Hell’ first appeared. And certainly both Leppard and Maiden encountered huge problems before they made it, so we’re confident we can still come through, even though they’ve got very big backing and so far we haven’t.

“As for Venom, we hate’em. In fact, we’d like to do a gig with that lot, just so we can have the pleasure of blowing ’em away! They’ve ripped us off. Listen to their stuff – it’s a blatant steal from our ideas. They’ve not got one original thought. I know, we’ve often been accused of being Sabbath copyists, but we used them as a springboard to develop our own ideas, Venom just take what we’ve done and recycle it.”


Kerrang! Issue 46 – July 1983
WILDLIFE – ‘Wildlife’ (Swansong B 0078)

HEY! THE debut album by Simon Kirke’s new band – what’s it like? Well, the first and most obvious thing to say is how much better it is than Bad Company’s last effort. It’s spirited, energetic, exciting and incisive. Which is perhaps a little surprising when you consider that both albums were produced by the same man – Mick Ralphs – in the same studio – Ridge Farm – and, of course, feature the same drummer at the core of a similarly full but empty sound.

But then Wildlife’s other members- Overland brothers Chris and Steve, bass player Philip Soussan and keyboardsman Mark Booty-are uniformly young and hungry and out to prove their point. Hardly well- heeled, well-oiled and well-padded like their venerable Swansong label mates. And so Wildlife snarl and snap and sink their teeth into their ten songs like their lives depended on it. Which is how it should be. Anything less than 100% commitment and who would take ‘em seriously?

Nevertheless Wildlife won’t find it an easy ride. Uphill struggle and bloody baffles lie between them and real success. It’s one thing, you see, to be a good band with tight arrangements, explosive guitars and great vocals – but it’s quite another to be special nowadays, and to these ears Wildlife sound like every other accomplished mid-Atlantic Heavy Melody band with their fingers crossed for American acceptance and international chart success. When, that is, they don’t sound just a Iittle too much like Free and Bad Company for comfort.

Mind you, I do feel a little guilty making these criticisms, since the Overland brothers (whose band I figure this really is considering between them they see to all the songs, the singing and the guitar playing) have come up with some very fine material. Side one is maybe a. little patchy but side two is masterful throughout. And pleasantly varied too. But the fact remains they haven’t written a Heavy Rock classic and neither do they offer any radical departures or reassessments of style.

So ultimately no song here is better than par for the course – competitive enough to warrant its place on the starting grid but with little of the stamina and character required to head the field and beat the clock. On the other hand though, as a first tilt at the big time, this album augers well for Wildlife’s future. The crunch will come with the next one.


Kerrang! Issue 46 – July 1983

TANK This Means War (Music For Nations MFN3)

The addition of ex-White Spirit guitarist Mick Tucker for this third album has made a mountain of difference seemingly. The sleeve credits are oblique to say the least but if he was hired by Spirit to do the some as Gers had done, then he must also be responsible for the
Blackmore-esque work etched into this and most of the other tracks.

Second cut ‘Hot Lead Cold Steel’ is just as heavy as the opener and with the title track following hard on its heels the first side really leaves you breathless, When the dust settles, flip it over and the riotous ‘Laughing In The Face Of Death’ will rattle out. It’s clear come this stage though that ‘T.M.W.’ is NOT going to “fill the gap after Rainbow Rising” as Algy Ward threatened. Mainly because his is not the strongest voice in the world and John Verity’s production doesn’t flatter it. Then a couple of weaker numbers let it down a bit more. ‘(If We Go) We Go Down Fighting’ flounders on a pretty crass football-terrace chorus/chant and ‘I (Wont Ever Let You Down)’ doesn’t work too well because it seems just a shade too deliberately ‘poppy’.

Fortunately though it picks up again for the closer ‘Echoes of a Distant Battle’ and in the end there’s no escaping the effectiveness of Tank’s attack – however brutal and crude it may be. I can’t condone the Falklands inspired military theme that runs throughout the lyrics – people getting killed is not something that should be treated so flippantly – but the music stands up on its own. Tank have made a new start as a four-piece that should see any previous ‘Motorhead-clones’ jibes evaporate away. And in the process they’ve also managed to come up with some fine, convincing rough’n’ready rock.

Music For Hooligans!



Tank were formed in 1980, when their line-up consisted of Pete Brabbs on guitar his brother Mark on drums and vocalist/bass player Algy Ward (formerly of The Damned).

During the next two years the band toured consistently opening for acts like Motorhead, Girlschool and Diamond Head, as well as headlining their own shows. During this period the band released two much acclaimed albums, ‘Fifth Hounds Of Hades’ and Power Of The Hunter’. Both albums were Top 50 hits in the UK and brought with them a large and loyal following for the band.

In early 1983 Tank decided to broaden their horizons, by changing their line-up and their record company They were joined on guitar by Mick Tucker from White Spirit, and shortly afterwards signed to Music For Nations.

They immediately went into the studio to record their third album, ‘This Means War. The album was produced by John Verity who’s best known for his work with Saxon and Argent. 1983 saw the departure of Mark and Pete Brabbs and this meant another recruitment period had to take place. Finding the right people for Tank was not to be an easy task. However, once again an ex-White Spirit member, Krall, was drafted into the ranks as drummer, for the new album. This worked so well that he has remained with the band, along with new guitarist Cliff Evans, who’s previous bands included Chicken Shack, Head First and up until the time of working with Tank, Cliff worked as a session player.

With the line-up now complete and generally considered to be the best combination to date, the band completed work on their new album ‘Honour and Blood’, which was released on November 16th. Tank are currently on a European tour as special guests to Metallica.