With the release of Twisted Sister‘s fourth album Come Out And Play reaching its 30th year anniversary, I thought that it would be fitting to review the band’s “career killer” album. I thought that I had purchased Come Out And Play on CD but apparently did not so I had to dig up my cassette that I had purchased 30 years ago for the purposes of this review. I’d like to point out that 30 years ago, I was — and still to this day — a massive Twisted Sister fan. This was even when the shock rockers got derailed and eventually disbanded. I also remember getting ridiculed in high school for constantly picking Twisted Sister as one of my favorite bands as the group quickly went from everyone’s video favorite to the laughing stock of heavy metal.
There is no question that Come Out And Play was a massive disappointment in terms of the follow up to Stay Hungry, one of the most played albums in my collection. It wasn’t quite as bad as the disappointment that I encountered when I heard Motley Crue‘s Theater Of Pain as a follow up to Shout At The Devil but it certainly was a big let down nonetheless. Gone was the ferocious, aggressive and heavy version of Twisted Sister which was replaced by a polished commercial sounding band who looked like it desperately wanted to sell more records. This of course completely backfired on the band as Come Out And Play only reached gold status, which was a far cry from the multi-platinum success of its predecessor. Truth be told, there are some very good songs on Come Out And Play but they are also alongside some of the band’s worst tracks.
The fact that the lead off single for the album was “Leader Of The Pack” — arguably the worst track on Come Out And Play — did not do justice by any means to some of the stellar tracks that were buried on the album. As far as I am concerned, The Shangri-Las‘ 1964 penned “Leader Of The Pack” was not representative of what Twisted Sister came up with on Come Out And Play and its release as the first single was the biggest mistake by a band that really could not afford any by that point having already overexposed itself with the “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” videos along with Dee Snider taking on the PMRC [Parents Music Resource Center]. Although “Be Chrool To Your Scuel” was a good song, the video was banned by MTV which denied Twisted Sister the opportunity to promote a song that actually had some potential to make some headway.
The two tracks that should have been the first two singles as far as I am concerned were the powerful title track — which still sometimes gets played live by the band — and “You Want What We Got” which while still quite commercial sounding had a lot more oomph than either of “Leader Of The Pack” and “Be Chrool To Your Scuel.” There are a few other standout tracks on Come Out And Play but they are buried near the end of the album. “Looking Out For #1” is a catchy rocker that will have you singing along very quickly. “Kill Or Be Killed” sounds more like the Twisted Sister of old and could have found its way onto an album such as You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll.
The rest of the tracks on Come Out And Play are simply too commercial or just not good enough. “I Believe In Rock ‘N’ Roll” is just too cliché and although it has some good parts, it’s a weak track overall. I know Twisted Sister still play “The Fire Still Burns” live but it’s an average track at best. If there is one thing that Twisted Sister have never been that great at — with the exception of “The Price” — it is playing ballads. Why the group would decide to offer two ballads on Come Out And Play, albeit one as a bonus track, is mind boggling. It is not that “I Believe In You” and “King Of The Fools” are bad tracks but Twisted Sister excel at the fast anthem like rockers and simply do not hold a candle in the ballad department to bands such as the Scorpions. Finally, “Out On The Streets” is another average track, which sees Twisted Sister straying away from their heavy metal roots.
Overall, Twister Sister‘s Come Out And Play is a hit and miss affair and a prime example of how picking the wrong track to be the album’s first single can have a disastrous impact on how an album is received. While I won’t skip any tracks while listening to Come Out And Play, it is definitely not filled with killer track after another like the band’s first three albums and unfortunately reminds me that this was the start of the rapid decline of one of my favorite bands.
01. Come Out And Play
02. Leader Of The Pack
03. You Want What We Got
04. I Believe In Rock ‘N’ Roll
05. The Fire Still Burns
06. Be Chrool To Your Scuel
07. I Believe In You
08. Out On The Streets
09. Looking Out For #1
10. Kill Or Be Killed
11. King Of The Fools
Dee Snider – lead vocals, backing vocals
Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Jay Jay French – rhythm & lead guitars, backing vocals
Mark “The Animal” Mendoza – bass, backing vocals
A. J. Pero – drums, percussion
Alan St. John – keyboards
Don Dokken – backing vocals
Gary Holland – backing vocals
Alice Cooper – accompanying lead vocals (6)
Brian Setzer – guitar solo (6)
Billy Joel – piano (6)
Clarence Clemons – saxophone solo (6)
Crispin Cioe – baritone saxophone (6)
Arno “Cool-Ray” Hecht – tenor saxophone (6)
Bad Bob Funk – trombone (6)
Hollywood Paul Litteral – trumpet (6)
The Uptown Horns – horn section (6)
Julia Waters – backing vocals (6)
Maxine Waters – backing vocals (6)
Produced by Dieter Dierks
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, November 2015