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Twisted Sister Guitarist Talks About Blistering 1983 Live Concert — Song Premiere

Hakon Grav

Twisted Sister stormed the stage at London’s famed Marquee Club in March of 1983 for two intense shows that cemented the band’s live legacy in the UK Recordings from those legendary nights reveal the Long Island quintet raw, hungry and catching fire just a few months before it achieved breakout success on radio and MTV.

On September 20th Rhino Handmade will be issuing ‘Live at the Marquee Club,’ a concert album that collects rare and unreleased recordings from both nights on a single disc. The music comes in a special gatefold made from heavy-duty cardstock and die-cut into the shape of the iconic Twisted Sister logo.

Combining hard-to-find cuts with five previously unreleased songs, including the title track from the band’s hard-rocking debut, ‘Under the Blade,’ and covers of The Shangri-Las’ ‘Leader of the Pack’ and the Slade version of the R&B staple ‘Let the Good Times Roll,’ the album also includes the first ever public performance of ‘You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ which would surface just three months later on the band’s second album.

Twisted Sister guitarist and guiding force Jay Jay French spoke to Noisecreep about the new release. As a bonus, we’ve got the exclusive premiere of ‘Under the Blade,’ one of the album’s blistering cuts.

Listen to ‘Under the Blade’ from Twisted Sister

These Marquee shows happened at an important time for the band, right?

Absolutely. We played the Marquee three times and each time it was an important time in our band’s career. And the Marquee is such an important room. People talk about CBGBs and other places, but the difference is, the Marquee housed The Who as a residence band, then you had the Stones, Hendrix, Bowie – so much occurred there and the graffiti in the dressing was all the real deal. You knew you were in a special place. We first played there in ’82 while recording ‘Under the Blade.’ Then we went back to record there this third and last time to record these tracks to be originally be used as b-sides of EPs. Historically, these Marquee Shows were the culmination of the British press’s love affair with Twisted Sister. That was the peak. We had just finished recording ‘You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll.’ We were ready. They were ready. These are intense performances captured here.

How did the British crowd respond to you?

The English crowd had adopted us by then, they actually rescued us from Long Island. We always felt we had to prove ourselves in England at a level that was beyond, and so we came ready to let them have it. And they were the same with us. The Tri-State area in the States got it, and the UK got it. No place else did back then. In England, the fans and press just went crazy for us. At first they first thought we were a punk band, but we considered ourselves an anti-punk band because we could actually play our instruments. We took pride in that we could actually play. That made us different.

Did you get to know other bands over there back then?

Primarily Motörhead. Lemmy championed the band, If it wasn’t for his approval, I’m not sure our career would have happened like it did. The first show over there we ever played was with Motörhead and he totally adopted. He was even there at the Marquee for these shows. He was very important to us and we still see him all the time. We play so many festivals with Motörhead and always invite him on stage.

Rhino Handmade

How do you like the unique packaging of this record?

Rhino did a beautiful job. Our old label, Atlantic, in my view, never respected Twisted Sister. I think what Rhino tried to do this time was show some love. Atlantic showed so little regard for us that they, over time, tossed away all of original artwork and lost our master tapes. If that doesn’t speak to the lack of respect, I don’t know what does. The English version of Atlantic loved us, and the packaging was always really cool, always loaded with extras and stuff. So I was thrilled with how Rhino Handmade really came through with this. Originally they didn’t even know they had ‘Live at the Marquee.’ But I knew they did.

I’m the keeper of the flame for the band. About 20 years ago I toured the Atlantic vault to look at all the old, cool master tapes. It was like a museum. I get to the Twisted Sister section and saw these two reels, Live at the Marquee. I kept my mouth shut. And when the catalog goes to Rhino and I’m talking to them, I tell them about the Marquee concert. They were like, excuse me? And once they knew, they totally delivered. Rhino is awesome. They still understand that we are getting bigger each year; still touring the world, and that there is a market for something like this. Don’t forget, there are only five major touring bands today with all original members- Aerosmith, Mötley Crüe, Rush, ZZ Top and Twisted Sister. Rhino totally gets the value of Twisted Sister.

Does this recording bring back good memories?

Yes and it gets me fired up, too. This record is about reaffirming what so many fans first thought about us, that their gut instincts were right – that Twisted Sister is a kick ass band that works hard and keep up a level of professionalism like nobody else. We’re very proud of that. We kick ass every night. We brought that work ethic to the Marquee in London and you totally hear it on this disc. I listen to it and think, we should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We embody everything that place is supposed to be about. I look at some of the people in it and think, hey, why not let a few people in that really deserve it? What am I missing?

Twisted Sister’s ‘Live at the Marquee Club’ is out September 20th via Rhino Handmade.

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