A few years ago, Twisted Sister remastered their entire catalog of studio albums and released them upon the masses. That is, they re-issued all the studio albums except for one – the brilliant STAY HUNGRY. This was the album that made their career, so it was surprising that they would not have this release in a reissued collection. I had the opportunity to interview Dee Snider around the time of the reissues, and I asked him why this album was not part of it. At that time, he stated there were two reasons that STAY HUNGRY wasn’t redone. First, Atlantic Records wouldn’t give them the rights to that release. I understood that, as it still sells more per year than any other release in their catalog. But the second reason was more telling to me. Snider indicated at that time, years ago, that they had never been happy with the way that record sounded. As a fan of this band that discovered this band the same way most did – the videos for “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock”, I was more than a bit surprised to hear that he always hated the way that record turned out.
Apparently, Snider and company never were able to drop it, and decided that during some rare time they had together as a band these days, that they would finally take on the task of re-recording this album the way they always wanted to. The resulting STILL HUNGRY is an interesting release with a grittier feel to it. It has a lot of reasons to like it, but in reality suffers from the inevitable question of “is it better than the original?” My answer would have to be “no”.
That being said, that doesn’t say that this is bad in any respect. In fact, looking at other bands from Twisted Sister’s era that have re-recorded their music, this is a gem amongst a large collection of shit. That could very well be 100% because Twisted Sister was just a better band than the majority of the bands from the 80s. While they were lumped into the “hair metal” genre, Sister always was a grittier, more street level band than the Warrant’s or LA Guns’ of the world. That shines through on STILL HUNGRY. Listening to it, it’s very much in line with other Twisted Sister albums like UNDER THE BLADE or YOU CAN’T STOP ROCK N’ ROLL in feel, but with better production. Snider’s voice has always been raw, but from STAY HUNGRY on, the band was a lot more musically polished. Here, it’s a better fit. Songs like “Stay Hungry” have a different, more primal fear to them in the guitar tone as well as with the vocal choruses. It’s good, but just doesn’t feature a ton of change that would lead you to think this is better than the original. There are definitely songs that benefit from the re-recording, though. My favorite TS tune ever, the sadistic “S.M.F.” comes off a lot more like it always has in concert – brutal, unabashed and raw. “Horror-teria”, the two-part terror tune that was the inspiration for Snider’s underappreciated horror movie classic STRANGELAND, is even more brooding and evil on STILL HUNGRY than the Tom Werman production made it 20 years ago. But these are the exceptions; not the rules. Overall, the rest of it has a slightly different feel, but not so much that you would really stop and take notice if you were listening to it for the first time.
PITRIFF RATING – 7/10 – STAY HUNGRY is definitely one of my “desert island” records; one that would want if I was ever shipwrecked. Without question, this album has been in my player at least once or twice a year since it came out in 1984. While STILL HUNGRY provides a solid new slant to this record, as well as some cool, updated songs from other places in their catalog (“Plastic Money” and “You Know I Cry” being the surprises of the bonus tracks), it doesn’t really stand as better than the original. There’s been a lot of bickering between Twisted Sister and Werman about the release of this record, but it really doesn’t do a lot to strengthen the TS side of the argument. That being said, I’m glad I have it. Hopefully, the guys will find time to tour it.