Sound: It's impossible to deny the impact that Twisted Sister had on metalheads everywhere (not to mention the fearsome parents) when the band made its mark on the 1970s and 1980s. Out of all the years together, however, it was in 1984 that Dee Snider and the gang truly made history with their iconic Stay Hungry album. Featuring hits like We're Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock, Twisted Sister was officially deemed the anthem makers for angst-ridden teens everywhere. With the June release of Stay Hungry's 25th Anniversary Edition, it's amazing how well the songs have held up over the years. Even more revealing is the 2nd disk in the new edition, which gives a glimpse of unreleased material that was in the running for Stay Hungry. The 17 previously unreleased songs (one of which is a completely fresh track) might not overshadow the original nine tracks on disk one, but fans of Twisted Sister should be happy to have such rarities in their catalog.
From the title track to the taboo S.M.F. (a.k.a. Sick Mother F**kers), Stay Hungry was certainly a novel approach to metal. It might not have matched the musicianship of Iron Maiden or Judas Priest's material, but there is still something to be said for the attitude and plain catchiness of Twisted Sister's songs. Even Horror-Teria, which didn't necessarily become a Billboard favorite, is a fairly revealing track in that it foreshadowed Dee Snider's eventual transition into the horror film genre.
When you listen to disk two, you have to keep in mind that the majority of songs were rough cuts that were in the running for Stay Hungry. The demos all sound a little more stripped down and raw, but the attitude is still ever-present. Disk two is more for the diehard fans who were curious as to what else Snider, who according to the liner notes was the primary writer, had brewing at the time. Interestingly enough, along with titles like You Got To Fight and Our Voice Will Be Heard (which easily fit into the category of angry anthems), there are also a few love songs (i.e., What's Love Without You). It's bizarre to hear those along with the fairly machismo material on the official Stay Hungry record, but that's why disk two is fascinating in its own way altogether.
Other highlights include demos of Stay Hungry tracks Burn In Hell, We're Not Gonna Take It, S.M.F., Stay Hungry, and The Price. Those particular demos are fairly close to the original, straying only in subtle ways. A KMET radio spot is included on disk two, as well as an all-new original song called 30. You only need to take one listen to 30 to hear how far Twisted Sister has come as a band. While the bulk of Stay Hungry is fairly straightforward power chords and melodies with little fanfare, 30 has a bigger, more produced sound and a pretty impressive guitar solo from Eddie Ojeda. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrical content was one of the most memorable aspects of Twisted Sister back in the day, and it certainly leant itself to the MTV medium. If you were angry at the man, it didn't get much better than hearing songs like I Wanna Rock and We're Not Gonna Take It. Snider is engaging in whatever he does, and there are few frontmen who are more believable than him when it comes to singing about his dislike for authority. // 9
Overall Impression: Stay Hungry was a great album when it originally was released, and it's still an enjoyable, catchy record. There will be those out there who believe that Twisted Sister was nothing more than a novelty act, but the 9 tracks on Stay Hungry are completely memorable with or without the makeup onstage. Disk two might not hold the same magic as disk one because the majority of the tracks are demos (many of which that follow the same formula as those you hear on the official Stay Hungry), but it's still worth a listen if you want to take a trip down memory lane. // 8