The best part of Dee Snider’s latest album is the opening sound gritty guitar drive. This could be the beginning of the next Twisted Sister release. Only it’s not. With a slight shift, the metal frontman begins his hard rocking version of the showtune standard “Cabaret” — and thus starts our trip down Broadway like you’ve never heard before.
Snider has a knack for churning out metal versions of standard songs. Twisted Sister’s A Twisted Christmas morphed delicate Christmas carols into major headbangers without losing the spirit. He works that same magic on the gayest of music: showtunes. And he succeeds.
The fun part of Dee Does Broadway is when the song works better in this genre than their original. I never had an interest in Sweeney Todd, but his rendition of
“The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” is stellar. The darkness of the show’s story merges with his hardcore delivery into a thrilling track.
Heavy metal fans may not flock to this album but they wouldn’t be disappointed if they did. The guitars rock with dangerous flair and the drums smash hard without restraint. Snider stays true to his rock roots without a doubt and while he may not be the best singer to deliver these tunes, his heart’s into it enough to stay afloat.
That doesn’t mean it’s always an easy listen. His “Mack the Knife” lacks the charming swagger it requires. He opens the song with its usual jazzy feel, but explodes into a muscular riff. But even in his normal voice (read: loud), the song itself is overshadowed by the music. Feel free to skip the track.
The same almost happens for “Whatever Lola Wants” from Damn Yankees, where he teams with Bebe Neuwirth. This version misses the song’s sexy undertones, but instead turns into a wicked tune that alters its intention. The trick is a good one, but veers too far off course to maintain.
He gets back on course with the raucous “The Joint is Jumpin.’” Snider duets with his eldest son, Jesse Blaze Snider, who has a healthy set of lungs himself. Everything about this track rocks. The chorus of horns over that hard metal is a smart layering of sound. And that guitar solo is to die for.
I waited with anticipation for track 8, “Luck Be a Lady Tonight.” Teaming with Clay Aiken, this is the musical equivalent of The Twilight Zone. The song starts off gently only to screech into high gear. The juxtaposition is a fun one. Aiken clearly wins in the slower intro, but he holds his own against
Snider’s shrill vocals. Aiken can actually belt out a heavy metal tune and sounds in the vein of Ozzy Osbourne or Don Dokken. The potential that this song could have been a train wreck is easily dismissed and it turns out to be the best track on the album.
Snider was smart to keep the tracks down to a dozen. The aggression wears a bit thin, but he balances it out with fascinating collabs. Patti LuPone, Cyndi Lauper and more add distinct textures to level out Snider’s growling.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 4, 2012.