ALICE COOPER

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Long before there was Marilyn Manson, White Zombie, W.A.S.P., or even Kiss, there was Alice Cooper, the great-granddaddy of all theatrical shock-rockers. He began life as Vincent Furnier in 1948 Detroit. In the 1970's, he became notorious for a horror-movie-like stage act involving guillotines, boa constrictors, and other gruesome props. Although Alice Cooper was originally the name of a five-piece band, Furnier adopted it as the name for his onstage character, and after the original band split up in the mid-'70's, Furnier effectively was Alice Cooper from that point on. His recording career now spans over 40 years. At the time this page was created, all of the albums reviewed below were out of print. Many have been reissued since then.


Before achieving pop stardom with their third album Love It To Death in 1971, the original Alice Cooper band recorded two quirky low-budget albums for Frank Zappa's Straight label. These two albums were reissued on CD by Rhino Encore in June 2008.

The first album, Pretties For You, is an intriguingly strange freeform hodgepodge of British Invasion-style pop rock, progressive rock, psychedelia, and Zappa-like weirdness. The 13 tracks alternately sound like rougher-edged mutations of the Beatles, Byrds, Who, King Crimson and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. Pretty cool stuff.

The second album, Easy Action, is a tad more conventional, and less interesting. Although it retains some of the weirdness of its predecessor (mainly in the Zappaesque "Still No Air" and the prog-rock noodling of "Lay Down and Die, Goodbye"), this album shows the band moving toward its early-'70's style of basic rock. The best tracks here are the rocking "Mr. & Misdemeanor" and "Return of the Spiders", as well as the nicely Beatlesque "Beautiful Flyaway" (sung by guitarist Michael Bruce), which showed technical progress. Pop stardom was clearly just around the corner.

Track Listings:

PRETTIES FOR YOU

1. Titanic Overture
2. 10 Minutes Before The Worm
3. Sing Low, Sweet Cheerio
4. Today Mueller
5. Living
6. Fields of Regret
7. No Longer Umpire
8. Levity Ball (Live at the Cheetah)
9. B.B. On Mars
10. Reflected
11. Apple Bush
12. Earwigs to Eternity
13. Changing Arranging


EASY ACTION

1. Mr. & Misdemeanor
2. Shoe Salesman
3. Still No Air
4. Below Your Means
5. Return of the Spiders
6. Laughing At Me
7. Refrigerator Heaven
8. Beautiful Flyaway
9. Lay Down And Die, Goodbye


By 1971, the band was signed to Warner Bros., and producer Bob Ezrin tightened and refined their sound, making their music accessible to mainstream rock fans. The nose-thumbing attitude of their hit singles and Furnier's ghoulish stage antics combined to make Alice Cooper a huge success among teens.

1973's Muscle Of Love was the seventh and final album recorded by the original band. It was produced by Jack Richardson and Jack Douglas instead of Ezrin, and was less successful than the four hit albums that came before it. However, Muscle Of Love isn't bad. It mainly consists of likable if irrelevant raunch rock. The album's high point is "Teenage Lament '74", a likably poppy variation on the earlier hit "I'm Eighteen"; amusingly enough, the song features backing vocals by Liza Minnelli and the Pointer Sisters. On the downside, the album contains a would-be James Bond theme song ("The Man With The Golden Gun"), a goofy carnival showtune ("Crazy Little Child"), and a none-too-heartfelt ballad ("Hard Hearted Alice") that presaged the impending "solo" career of the man called Alice. (Note: Muscle of Love was reissued by Rhino Encore in August 2008).

Track Listing:

1. Big Apple Dreamin' (Hippo)
2. Never Been Sold Before
3. Hard Hearted Alice
4. Crazy Little Child
5. Working Up A Sweat
6. Muscle Of Love
7. Man With The Golden Gun
8. Teenage Lament '74
9. Woman Machine


By 1975, the original Alice Cooper band broke up, and Furnier officially adopted the name as his own for his solo act. Unfortunately, the quality of his music took a sharp downturn, and he turned out sappy hit ballads like "Only Women Bleed".

The now-deleted 1977 album Lace and Whiskey was a by-the-numbers pop-rock album designed to generate big bucks. The album's generic mainstream sound is varied only by the disco-era pomposity of "(No More) Love At Your Convenience" and the icky elevator muzak of "You And Me" (a Top 10 single in its day) and "I Never Wrote Those Songs" (nice try, Alice, but the credits say you co-wrote nine of the ten tracks). Boring stuff. (Note: Lace and Whiskey was reissued by Rhino Encore in August 2008).

Track Listing:

1. It's Hot Tonight
2. Lace And Whiskey
3. Road Rats
4. Damned If You Do
5. You And Me
6. King Of The Silver Screen
7. Ubangi Stomp
8. (No More) Love At Your Convenience
9. I Never Wrote Those Songs
10. My God




As their former frontman continued his popular theatrical antics, three members of the original band (guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith) formed the band Billion Dollar Babies, named after the 1973 Alice Cooper album and song. With keyboardist Bob Dolin and guitarist Mike Marconi rounding out the quintet, the band recorded only one album, on which they played straight-ahead rock and roll similar to the music they made with Cooper. Bruce handles vocal duties (as he sometimes did on the first two albums). His voice is less menacing than Cooper's, though he usually sounds like he is mimicking his style. There's nothing great on Battle Axe, but it is consistently energetic and entertaining, and withstands comparison to the albums the band did with Cooper (and was certainly superior to what he was up to at that time).

Track Listing:

1. Too Young -- (Bruce/Marconi/Smith)
2. Shine Your Love -- (Bruce/Marconi)
3. I Miss You -- (Bruce/Marconi/Smith)
4. Wasn't I The One -- (Bruce/Marconi)
5. Love Is Rather Blind -- (Bruce/Smith/Daye)
6. Rock n' Roll Radio -- (Dunaway/Marconi/Smith/Jeffords/Douglas)
7. Dance With Me -- (Bruce/Marconi)
8. Rock Me Slowly -- (Bruce)
9. Ego Mania -- (Bruce/Dolin/Dunaway/Marconi/Smith)
10a. Battle Axe -- (Bruce/Dolin/Dunaway)
10b. (Sudden Death) -- (Dolin)
11. Winner -- (Bruce/Dunaway)




1978's From The Inside was an attempt at a "serious" album, mixing Cooper's usual gruesome lyrical imagery with social commentary -- something that Alice would do better decades later. Most of the song lyrics on this album are populated by insane characters whom Cooper says are based on real people he encountered while recovering from alcoholism in a N.Y. hospital. But it's hard to take the songs seriously when they sound like outtakes from
The Rocky Horror Picture Show. To make matters worse, the album contains yet another yucky hit ballad ("How You Gonna See Me Now"). "The Quiet Room" (about a would-be suicide) and "Jackknife Johnny" (about a troubled Vietnam vet) come close to being moving songs, but Cooper is better off when he stays within his depth on straight-up rockers like "Serious" (we get the picture, Alice!) and the raunchy "Wish I Were Born In Beverly Hills". (Note: From the Inside was reissued by Rhino Encore in August 2008).

Track Listing:

1. From The Inside
2. Wish I Were Born In Beverly Hills
3. The Quiet Room
4. Nurse Rozetta
5. Millie And Billie
6. Serious
7. How You Gonna See Me Now
8. For Veronica's Sake
9. Jackknife Johnny
10. Inmates (We're All Crazy)


As the '70's came to an end, Alice saw himself becoming passe, and attempted to change with the times. He tried to enter the new wave by adopting an Iggy Pop look and by tapping Cars producer Roy Thomas Baker to produce his next album. But the public didn't buy into Cooper's unconvincing punk makeover. The 1980 album Flush The Fashion is a botched mixture of heavy metal attitude and Cars-like synth rock. The album isn't boring, and it's too short (less than 30 minutes) to really get on your nerves. But it sounds awfully phony, and the lyrics waver clumsily between social commentary and childish silliness. Ironically, Cooper sounds as though he was trying to appeal to the type of people he ridicules in the lyrics of "Dance Yourself To Death". Still, "Clones (We're All)" was a good single. (Note: Flush the Fashion was reissued by Rhino Encore in August 2008).

Track Listing:

1. Talk Talk
2. Clones (We're All)
3. Pain
4. Leather Boots
5. Aspirin Damage
6. Nuclear Infected
7. Grim Facts
8. Model Citizen
9. Dance Yourself To Death
10. Headlines


After Flush The Fashion was pronounced a commercial failure, Cooper faded into obscurity, and lapsed back into alcoholism. One result (cause?) of these problems was an album that was idiosyncratic and unappealing. Any fans who may have stayed with Cooper after Flush The Fashion were rewarded with the truly awful 1981 album Special Forces. Cooper no longer tried to look or sound punk at this point; now he came across as a weird militaristic cartoon character with no discernible appeal. The most this lifeless junk-metal album has to offer are a few embarrassingly dopey shock-rock tunes ("Prettiest Cop On The Block", "Skeletons In The Closet") and useless remakes of Arthur Lee's "Seven & Seven Is" and Cooper's own "Generation Landslide", which only serves to show how far he had fallen since 1973. (By the way, that track was not recorded live, as the packaging states; it was done entirely in the studio, with dubbed-in applause). A complete waste. Note: the original album cover listed a song titled "Look At You Over There, Ripping The Sawdust From My Teddybear", but that song was not on the album. For the curious, the demo version of that song is included on the Life & Crimes Of Alice Cooper box set. Special Forces was reissued on CD in 2010 by the Collector's Choice label.

Track Listing:

1. Who Do You Think We Are
2. Seven & Seven Is
3. Prettiest Cop On The Block
4. Don't Talk Old To Me
5. Generation Landslide '81 (Live)
6. Skeletons In The Closet
7. You Want It, You Got It
8. You Look Good In Rags
9. You're A Movie
10. Vicious Rumours


On his next album, which bore the ouch!-inspiring title Zipper Catches Skin, Cooper was headed back on the right track. He attempted to make an album that was closer to the basic rock of his early-'70's prime. Of course, the original band wasn't there to back him, and the album was not quite a return to form. But the album is fun to listen to through its short 32-minute run, and Cooper's clownishness was becoming entertaining again. Zipper Catches Skin is certainly a lightweight album, but it was Cooper's most consistent work in years, and an encouraging sign that there was life in the old boy yet. Zipper Catches Skin was reissued by the Collector's Choice label in 2010.

Track Listing:

1. Zorro's Ascent
2. Make That Money (Scrooge's Song)
3. I Am The Future
4. No Baloney Homosapiens
5. Adaptables (Anything For You)
6. I Like Girls
7. Remarkably Insincere
8. Tag, You're It
9. I Better Be Good
10. I'm Alive (That Was The Day My Dead Pet Returned To Save My Life)


His next album, 1983's Dada, reunited Cooper with Bob Ezrin, who produced most of his '70's albums. It turned out to be Cooper's strongest album in a decade. Alice was still struggling with alcoholism at this point, and the tone of this album is rather dark. His trademark shock lyrics have an unsettlingly serious undertone on "No Man's Land" and "Pass The Gun Around". The gruesome songs are dressed up in lush arrangements including prominent strings, keyboards, and computerized drums. Dada is not the type of album one expects from Cooper, and it's refreshing to hear him break out of the musical rut he'd been mired in for years. Dada was reissued on CD in 2010 by the Collector's Choice label.

Track Listing:

1. Da Da
2. Enough's Enough
3. Former Lee Warmer
4. No Man's Land
5. Dyslexia
6. Scarlet And Sheba
7. I Love America
8. Fresh Blood
9. Pass The Gun Around


By 1987, Cooper finally won his battle with the bottle, and reverted back to his '70's look and attitude. Although he still hadn't returned from obscurity, his 1989 comeback was just around the corner when he released 1987's Raise Your Fist And Yell. The album was a somewhat typical headbangin' heavy metal offering, though its sound was more raw than much of the Bon Jovi-esque pop metal that was popular at the time. On Side One, Cooper shakes his fist at anyone who would stand in the way of his rock and roll party. The songs on Side Two possess a more gruesome horror movie mentality; in fact, "Prince Of Darkness" was the title song for an awful John Carpenter flick that Cooper had a cameo in. Raise Your Fist And Yell isn't one of Alice's best, but it's never boring, and has plenty of wild guitar playing (by Kane Roberts) to hold your attention.

Track Listing:

1. Freedom
2. Lock Me Up
3. Give The Radio Back
4. Step On You
5. Not That Kind Of Love
6. Prince Of Darkness
7. Time To Kill
8. Chop, Chop, Chop
9. Gail
10. Roses On White Lace


The 1997 album A Fistful Of Alice contains 12 live performances recorded in June 1996 at Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Cantina in Mexico. (The 13th track, "Is Anybody Home?", is a so-so previously unreleased studio song). Most of the songs are drawn from Cooper's '70's heyday; in addition, he performed his 1989 comeback hit "Poison" and two more recent songs. Give or take an "Only Women Bleed" or two, the songs are well-chosen and entertainingly performed; Alice is not merely going through the motions here. This album proves that, even as he was nearing 50, Cooper still hadn't lost his teenage mentality. Good for him. (Note: the Japanese version contained four bonus live tracks: "Under My Wheels", "Bed of Nails", "Clones (We're All)", and "No More Mr. Nice Guy").

Track Listing:

1. School's Out
2. I'm Eighteen
3. Desperado
4. Lost In America
5. Teenage Lament '74
6. I Never Cry
7. Poison
8. Billion Dollar Babies
9. Welcome To My Nightmare
10. Only Women Bleed
11. Feed My Frankenstein
12. Elected
13. Is Anyone Home?



The original Alice Cooper band played a surprise reunion show on October 10, 2015 at the indie music store Good Records in Dallas, Texas. Four-fifths of the original lineup – singer Vincent Furnier (whom we now know as Alice Cooper the solo artist), rhythm guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith – performed for a crowd of approximately 200 people. Ryan Roxie took the place of original lead guitarist Glen Buxton, who passed away in 1997. Their seven-song set was the longest set performed by the original band in 40 years. For the Black Friday Record Store Day in 2016, a limited edition 7-inch single was issued, containing two songs from that performance. The single, titled Live From The Astroturf, was limited to 2,500 copies, pressed in different colored vinyl variations: 1150 white, 1150 pink, 100 black, and 100 split color pink/white singles were randomly distributed. The pink/white variant contained art prints autographed by the four surviving original members. The single was co-mixed by Bob Ezrin, who produced most of the band’s early-70’s work.

The two songs included on Live From The Astroturf were both drawn from the 1971 breakthrough album Love It To Death. Alice and the band sound great on both tracks, still able to convincingly crank out anthems of teen rebellion well into their 60’s. During their performance of the classic “I’m Eighteen” on the A-side, Cooper ad-libs the line “I gotta get outta here, Mom and Dad got me drinkin’ beer”, showing that he can still get inside the head of an angst-filled teenager. The rock and roll attitude also comes through loud and clear on their performance of “Is It My Body” on the B-side. This needs to happen again!

Track Listing:

a. Eighteen (aka “I’m Eighteen”)
b. Body (aka “Is It My Body”)



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