For the Dads and Uncles (A High Voltage Christmas)

So I realize that an average AC/DC fan is about as likely to have heard of Girl in a Coma, Smoke Fairies, or Twin Tigers as they are to have seen the latest episode of The Whitest Kids You Know. Their concert-going is likely relegated to summer sheds, they probably couldn’t name a song by Belle & Sebastian, and they use the phrase “classic rock” in a positive and non-ironic manner. They are the dads and uncles of the world. But who says we don’t love our dads and uncles? And it is this time of year when we all find ourselves scrambling to commodify that love. So if you are yet to pick up a gift for your dad, uncle, or just-plain-fan-of-“classic rock,” you may want to consider one of the following recently-released DVD titles, brought to you by Eagle Vision. This entry is my nod to all of dads and uncles of the world.

Rush: 2112 & Moving Pictures Classic Albums
While Rush’s brand name finds itself alongside Dungeons and Dragons as often as it does Black Sabbath, to many they are pretty much the coolest thing ever… after D&D, that is. And, I must admit, they have mustered up a couple dozen rock radio singles that do make for good late-night highway driving (and which I much prefer to the likes of Shineback and Flystorm). The latest edition in the Classic Albums series examines Rush’s two most seminal works, 2112 and Moving Pictures.

This documentary features extensive interviews with the rock trio (a quality trademark of the Classic Albums series, compared to other mid-level rock docs who exclusively focus on the ex-girlfriends of the band and the offspring of the sound engineer), along with people like David Fricke, Taylor Hawkins, and Ed Robertson. The crux of the interviews focus on the band discussing the lyrical inspiration behind their work, which range from Ayn Rand’s Anthem (which inspired the 20+minute “2112”) to pot to sportscars. I must admit, the earnestness and passion with which they discuss a literary notion of a song being born when a man finds a lone guitar (which had been long-banned) in a cave or the freedom of being able to drive down the highway in a world where cars are illegal is entertaining to put it mildly.

Twisted Sister: Live at Wacken
Although this is a re-issue (now including a live CD) and true fans of Twisted Sister likely already have it, for those not-so-hardcore, this DVD and CD documenting the band’s reunion just might flip you. Sure, their reunion might not be as critically exciting as that of the MC5 or as popularly exciting as that of Van Halen, but it seems to be only because the band’s aesthetic is far too epic to appeal to the real aliens, yet far too subversive to pack arenas. Although the band has been a bit bastardized by a few pop singles and reality television shows, they’re far more intriguing than most people remember.

The DVD documents the process of Twisted Sister’s reunion, culminating with their headlining slot at Wacken (whose name they mispronounce several times) 2003. Spliced into a recording of their full set is interviews and supplemental footage of how they came to get back together and put on this amazingly grandiose and still-moderately-disturbing (and not for the wrong reasons) performance in front of tens of thousands of people. Yes, it’s quite a bit pompous, but Dee Snider is the furthest thing from the cliché aged frontman and still navigates the stage looking like a strung out drag queen. And “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” aside, their music is a lot more transgressive than you ever realized (a bit like if the New York Dolls were a bunch of Guidos). This DVD proves that the reason Twisted Sister aren’t regularly joining Poison and Cinderella for summer package tours isn’t because they’re not competent enough, but because they’re simply not that lame.

Izzy Cihak

(photo by Olivia Vaughn)