A Twisted Christmas at The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville

Twisted Christmas DVD

In my cavernous vault of Christmas tunes, one facet of my collection that has never been properly represented was hard rock and metal. Before 2006, I never would have pegged Twisted Sister as a band to record a Christmas album. Although, after A Twisted Christmas was released in 2006, it was an immediate classic. There’s obviously been many hard rock bands through the years who have released holiday songs but how many actually withstand the test of time? We’re covered from a Jersey perspective with songs from Bon Jovi and American Angel, but overall we’re hard pressed for good hard rock and heavy metal Christmas songs.

In 2007 we saw Monster Ballads Xmas released, and a year later We Wish You a Metal Xmas, but none of them had the potential that A Twisted Christmas did to become a classic. The Twisted Sister formula combined with these perennial holiday songs was a success. A Christmas album might seem like a strange move for rockers who wear costumes and makeup, but they followed through with an annual Christmas concert where the band performs Christmas tunes, and a slew of their other big songs as well. Unfortunately, the Twisted Christmas concert did not take place this year (2010) but if you would still like to experience it anyway, I suggest getting your hands on a copy of the very first Twisted Christmas Live DVD which took place at The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey and released in 2007.

With the stage doused in red spotlights, bows, and silver tinsel garland, Dee Snider stormed the stage wearing a Santa Claus costume. TS then ripped into “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which also incorporates a Ramones-esque “Ho, Ho, Ho, Let’s Go!” Their version of “White Christmas” is the quintessential hard rock version of the immortal song and “Oh Come all ye Faithful,” merges with “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to create the ultimate metal Christmas song.

The Starland concert was a fast paced onslaught of holiday hard rock. Dee Snider had a blast throughout the show, especially on “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” At times the rest of the band looks like they’d rather be knitting or doing a crossword puzzle, but they come alive when it’s time for Twisted songs like “The Fire Still Burns and “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll.” Dee, who really has a way with words, thanked the troops overseas before kicking off “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” followed by a heartwarming rendition of “Burn in Hell.”

We get to see an awesome drum solo from A.J which leads into “Silver Bells” where Jay Jay French shreds as artifical snow fell from the rafters. You’ll also see plenty of Mark slapping the bass and Eddie electrifying his guitar. Dee tells a funny, yet long winded story about getting socks for Christmas which ultimately introduces “I Wanna Rock” as they completely annihilate the audience. Finally, the band comes back out for an encore of “Heavy Metal Christmas.” It wasn’t all holiday tunes either, mixed into the setlist were Twisted Sister tracks like “Shoot ’em  Down” and “The Price.”

The DVD is well put together. Visually, you’ll feel like you are actually in the venue. The Starland Ballroom is small, but the film crew did a superb job with the limited space. When watching this concert you will quickly notice how the creative crew makes the ballroom look huge as they shoot from all different perspectives, many of which I’ve never seen done before at a Starland concert. There are also several extras including music videos for “Oh Come all ye Faithful” and “Heavy Metal Christmas” as well as an interview with the band and more. I only have one gripe with the DVD itself. They decided to delete the word “motherf*cker” all throughout the show, which I assume was to not get a parental advisory warning slapped on there.

If you’re one of those humbugs who hates holiday tunes, then this DVD is your kryptonite. But if you’re the type who can’t wait to break out the holiday music after Thanksgiving, and if you’re a Twisted Sister fanatic, then this DVD is a must own! It’s also a collectible for those fans of New Jersey popular culture, since New York’s Twisted Sister chose our little Starland Ballroom to do their first ever Christmas concert! I recommend getting this DVD before it goes out of print and you have to buy it on ebay for $80 bucks!

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Kip Winger Thursday: The Greatest Kip Winger Story Ever Told!!!

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kip Winger Thursday, it’s a day that can alleviate some of the tension from the stresses of the economic crisis, the soaring unemployment rate, and terrible atrocities like Lady Gaga. It’s a day when all we have to do is fondly recall the more carefree atmosphere of the days of ’80s hairbands. When the sunset strip was crawling with bands like Motley Crue and Guns N Roses and all was right in the world…well, my world at least. I think Stevie Rachelle said it best “When Def Leppard rocked and Skid Row Ruled,” in his song “American Hairband.” Grunge came in like a lion but it totally went out like a lamb. Nowadays who really cares about grunge anyway? Life is challenging, and depressing as it is so why would we want our music to make us even more angry and morose? Don’t you want to have fun and party?

During last week’s ’80s hard rock extravaganza aptly known as Rocklahoma, party is exactly what they did. For 4 days in Pryor, Oklahoma, fans of the genre relived the hairband glory days. It’s an opportunity to see your favorites from the era, as well as new bands who keep the scene alive like Wildstreet and Bang Camaro. Some of the classic bands that appeared this year were Anthrax, Overkill, RATT, Danger Danger, Kix, Nelson, Lizzy Borden, Skid Row, and Twisted Sister to name a few. The festival has been going on since 2007, and has been building up steam each year. The true fans show up hardcore, front and center for all 4 days! I happen to know one of those fans.

A friend of mine, Elise, wouldn’t miss Rocklahoma for the world. She takes her love of these bands to the next level.

On July 11th, 2009 at 1:04 AM, I received this text message from her:

“I just told Kip about u and KWT!!!!”

Apparently, Kip Winger was hanging out at the show and Elise had the chance to slyly slip in a mention for my ongoing Thursday meme dedicated to Kip Winger. To join in the fun, go to www.twitter.com/sexyarmpit. Kip was even in New Jersey a few weeks back and I had the opportunity to go to the show, but the idea of someone else telling Kip about Kip Winger Thursday felt so much cooler to me, especially coming from a girl who he was clearly digging! A BIG thanks from The Sexy Armpit, Elise!

Also, Bring Back Glam has an abundance of info on Rocklahoma and the reasons why it sucked this year, so head over and check out Allyson’s awesome blog.

Montclair State of Mind by Anthony F. Venditto

While attending college sometime in the mid to late ’90s, my sister saved me an issue of the Montclair State University student newspaper. I imagined that I’d be reading an article hailing one of her various academic accomplishments, but thankfully, I was directed to a wildly different composition. This poetic masterpiece was printed sometime in the ’90s, and being a filing mastermind, I’m able to bring it to you right now…
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Wherever you are Anthony, that’s some great, Sexy Armpit styled work! Anthony probably hasn’t thought about this in over 10 years, but The Sexy Armpit is here to show him some praise!

A Twisted Sister Christmas at The Nokia Theatre in Times Square 12-5-08!

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Twisted Sister decked the halls of the Nokia Theater in Times Square REALLY HARD on December 5th, 2008 for their Christmas show and The Sexy Armpit was in attendance! If you’d like a visual aid, check out the video montage I edited up for you at the bottom of this post!

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I was impressed with opening acts ZO2 and The Dirty Pearls, both from Brooklyn. I’ve seen ZO2 live before, and their afroed frontman Paulie Z has a dynamic voice and a likeable personality. Bassist David Z and Drummer Joey Cassata are abundantly talented and make the tunes sound rockin’, even though they’ve got a run of the mill ’70s retro rock vibe. Regardless, I found myself wanting to come home and download “Isolate” and “Ain’t it Beautiful.” Their TV show Z-Rock airs on the Independent Film Channel, and it’s also available on iTunes.

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I’ve heard songs from The Dirty Pearls before but last night was the first time I saw them live. They’ve got plenty of hard rock swagger and sleaze but thankfully they don’t chince out on the great chorus’ and hooks. What’s with all the afros in rock music? Both of the aforementioned openers have bandmembers with afros. Didn’t we get the memo? The afro thing was over a few years ago!

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Hearing that Twisted Sister is playing Christmas music might seem cheesy to elitist music snobs, but they pull it off with cool to spare. You’d be surprised at how unbelievable Dee Snider’s voice sounds, it might be as strong as it was 20 years ago. I couldn’t make it to last year’s Twisted Christmas show, but I’m glad I was at this one because the entire band chewed up the Nokia Theatre and ate it for a midnight snack. Twisted consists of all original members (Dee, J.J, Mark, A.J, and Eddie) who effortlessly shred, hit, and berate their instruments yielding primal musical results. The band slashed through all their classic crushing tracks as well as the holiday fare from A Twisted Christmas, released in the fall of ’06. 
The Twisted Christmas extravaganza became nothing short of holiday TV variety show! Mini Kiss ushered Santa Snider’s sleigh onto the stage. And still looking sexy, Lita Ford strutted onstage in a skintight red hot vinyl body suit to sing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” with Dee. Another surprise was TNA Wrestling star, Mick Foley, who graced us by his presence disguised as Santa Claus offering to give the band members anything they wanted for Christmas. Naturally, Dee answered: “I WANNA ROCK!”
At the show, Dee announced that Twisted will release an album of all new material in ’09! And now onto my video montage of the show:

We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year CD

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Silly me for trying to resist getting into the Christmas spirit so soon. Thanks to my brand spankin’ new copy of We Wish You A Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year, the Christmas spirit was just jammed through my ear canals with devil horns. 

Twisted Sister’s Christmas album kicks ass, but this one brings the meaning of Metal Christmas to a whole new level! I’m listening to Lemmy, Billy Gibbons, and Dave Grohl on “Run Run Rudolph”!!?? Am I really hearing this? I’m in sheer amazement at this instantly classic CD. I would wager to say that most fans of metal will certainly cringe and/or vomit when listening to these songs, but not me! This CD was made for me because I thrive on this kind of crap. I don’t have the words to describe my feeling of utter elation upon my first listen to Stephen Pearcy singing “Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer.” Also featured on the track are Tracii Guns and Billy Sheehan. Moments of such musical bliss haven’t occured since the days of Mozart, Bach, Handel, and hell…even Wham’s “Careless Whisper.” Joe Lynn Turner seriously does a bang up job singing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” which sonically may be the best on the album. The track also features the brothers Kulick, Rudy Sarzo, and Simon Wright. 
It takes a little suspension of disbelief to realize that Dio IS actually belting out “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.” Perhaps the most unimaginable track belongs to Alice Cooper. He takes a break from singing about spiders and Frankenstein to croon “Santa Claws is Coming To Town.” There’s no doubt about it, these songs will definitely NOT show up on Phil Spector’s Christmas Gift to You Part 2, but they are still AWESOME. If you’re a Christmas music geek like me, then We Wish You a Metal Xmas should be a required part of your holiday iPod playlist! Nothing like a little METAL to inject you with holiday spirit! Check out my Christmas playlists from ’05, and ’07:

Batman Button Collection

In New Jersey one of the prerequisites to living here is at one time growing up you owned a jean jacket with the sleeves cut off that was scattered with buttons of your favorite band, maybe we’ll even thrown a full patch on the back of let’s say Guns N Roses or Twisted Sister. (Is that a twisted sister pin on your uniform?!?!) I stress owned because let’s face it, something in the back of your head told you it was a bad idea to wear it. Even when those things were cool there was always a small group of people who though you were a total asshole, and they were probably right if I was going to let myself get caught wearing that shit. So in actuality, I’m merely dancing around the subject of outright telling you that I may possibly have been a person who may have owned one at one time or another but it’s not definite and I can’t confirm or deny it so don’t ask me to try and differentiate from which one is the truth and which one was fiction because you know what? at this point I don’t even remember what the fuck we were talking about.

Wow…did I just really totally spaz out like that? You know that happens every damn time I dig in my closet and put that old sleeveless jean jacket on for old time sake. Or could’ve been that I was rokken Dokken so loud that I became momentarily completely inept at deciphering what you were saying so I started making up my own questions in my head that I started replying to out loud. To get back to what I was saying..I don’t only have buttons of my favorite bands…I have ones of Batman, Tony Hawk, Vision Street Wear, and a Motley Crue patch on the back.

“What what’s that?… You like the Batman button on my jacket?… Hey right on, radical bro!”

***I’m sure this button collection pales in comparison to other people’s. I just figured what other purpose is there for these buttons other than hording them in mass quantities or pinning them to your ’80s sleeveless jean jacket that you still put on occasionally fire up the memories?

Hark the Hair Bands Sing!

A friend of mine, Steve, once said that everything in my life ties back to Hair Bands. While my hair is the furthest thing from being “hair band” status, the hair band flavor runs deep within my soul. I don’t have much of a choice either because it’s something I grew up with. Hair Metal was all over MTV and on the radio when I was a kid. It just seemed like the culmination of pop and metal was a perfect mix. It was only an added bonus when they threw in the spandex, leather tassels, HUGE hair, and the uncomfortable closeups of the guys in the band creepily smiling at you through the television.

After years of being glued to MTV watching videos for hours, I’ve come to despise videos that have been made within the last ten years. The hair band video mentality was that of a party and the escapist themes sucked you right into the plot. Was Tawny Kitaen dancing for us? As far as I knew she was. Who cares if she was porking Coverdale. Was Bret Michaels a complete woman in the “I Want Action” video? Hell yes, but the guys weren’t paying attention to that because we actually rocked out to it. The women ate it up because for some reason women seem to be attracted to guys that look like women. Alas, it was a great time for music videos.

Nowadays I’d be hard pressed to find you a video that I actually enjoy unless its some wacky homage to the hair band era. The ones that are actually cool aren’t even shown on TV. If you have VH1 Classics you can catch alot of these bands, but I don’t have the time to watch for 18 hours to see the new Quiet Riot video. Luckily with the existence of official band websites, we can now enjoy great Hair Band videos online including the ones that are made TODAY!

If you like to dabble in the hair band scene, you must check out “Oh Come Oh ye Faithful,” the latest video from Twisted Sister which appears on their Christmas album. It hearkens back to the golden days of Hair Metal videos when no one gave a shit about anything but having a good time and checking out some hot ass. Whether you love the genre or not, the videos are completely over the top and much more entertaining than the majority of videos made in recent times.