KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

ALICE COOPER Part 5 – Might As Well Be On Mars / The Hair Metal Years

After Alice Cooper cleaned himself up following the release of 1983’s Dada, he re-emerged three years later on a new record label with Constrictor (1986). Putting the early-80s Alice Cooper - Constrictorsynth-pop & new wave sounds behind him, this album and its three successors found him streamlining his music into a more radio-friendly “hair metal” package that resulted in his biggest commercial success in over a decade. Constrictor was produced by Beau Hill (best known for his work with Ratt, Kix & Gary Moore), and was Alice’s first collaboration with guitarist (and Rambo look-alike) Kane Roberts.  Roberts also co-wrote all 10 songs, and future Winger frontman Kip Winger played bass. I should point out here that I’ve never been much of a hair metal fan. At the time I especially disliked it, with only the occasional song by Kiss, Aerosmith, Whitesnake or Def Leppard making an impact on me, but I’ve since come around to some artists of that era. I don’t, however, like Poison, Bon Jovi or Mötley Crüe, and since a number of songs during this era are influenced by these artists, my tolerance for them may be lower than that of other listeners. Album opener, “Teenage Frankenstein,” might be my favorite song here. Once I got past the brittle, digital-sounding production and ‘80s drum sounds, the melody & stinging lead guitar won me over. The snarling Alice character is in full force (and strong voice), and the lyrics…dealing with the discomforts of adolescence…could be a sequel to the early Alice Cooper Band hit, “I’m Eighteen.”

[Alice Cooper – “Teenage Frankenstein”]

Alice Cooper Photo (circa 1986)“Life And Death Of The Party” is another highlight. I like the dynamics, where things come down for the verses but build to the Ratt-like choruses, and Roberts’ guitar solo is excellent. “Trick Bag” has a similar feel to The Romantics’ hit single, “Talking In Your Sleep,” especially in the guitar riff and echoed vocals.  “Crawlin’” starts with a cool chugging guitar riff, and even though the sex-obsessed  lyrics are a bit adolescent, I like the high harmonies and the catchy melodies are undeniable. “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)” was the theme song for the sixth Friday The 13th film. It’s a glossy pop/rock song (with a synth bass that reminds me of Styx’s “Too Much Time On My Hands”) that’s not very scary or creepy, but it works outside the context of the movie. The other five songs are pretty good, with strong melodies and solid performances, but they border on generic. Of these, only “The World Needs Guts” is worth mentioning: a dumb but enjoyable driving rocker, with lyrics about standing up for yourself (“Hey you! Fighting for your life…”). Overall, Constrictor is split equally between memorable & forgettable, but as a product of its time I enjoyed it more than I expected to.

For the follow-up, Raise Your Fist And Yell (1987), Alice tapped Michael Wagener (best known for his work with Accept, Dokken, Poison & Metallica) to produce. With Roberts & Winger returning, Alice Cooper - Raise Your Fist And Yellit’s more of the same, although the full digital recording makes it sound a bit more sterile than Constrictor. Before discussing the music, I should point out that the album cover is one of the worst I’ve ever seen by a major artist, but I didn’t let that affect my enjoyment of at least half the album. “Freedom” starts things off on a high note; a driving metal song with powerful double-kick drumming from Ken Mary. This album is one of his first credits, and he really shines in his big league debut. Alice sounds engaged on this political tune, which I assume is pointed at the PMRC (the government-backed group that attempted to censor “objectionable” music in the ‘80s, resulting in those “Parental Guidance” stickers that are still used to this day). I love the big group vocals in the chorus (“Freedom to rock, freedom to talk”). “Lock Me Up” has some huge, impressive drums and a cool chugging riff with searing lead guitar. It begins with an indictment of Alice, “How do you plead?” (spoken by Robert Englund, the actor who portrayed Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare On Elm Street movies), to which Alice proudly replies, “Guilty!” I really like the catchy pop-metal chorus: “If you don’t like it you can lock me up, whoa-ohh-ohh-ohh.”

The second half of the album could be the template for an excellent horror movie, and it reaches its peak on the final three songs. “Chop Chop Chop” features a cool circular guitar melody & riff in the intro, which gives way to a driving rhythm. The narrator, a “homicidal genius” who “never leaves a trace,” is a psychopath who’s murdering prostitutes (“I’m a Alice Cooper Photo (Back cover of Rasie Your Fist And Yell)lonely hunter, city full of game, walkin’ in the neon lights”). He speaks/snarls his way through the final verse, much like Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, and it segues into the next song with a reference to the title character, “Gail.” Here he revisits the creepiest parts of Welcome To My Nightmare (“The bugs serve time in her skeletal jail, I wonder how the bugs remember Gail”) as the killer revisits the spot where he buried her body. I love how it progresses from eerie (with organ/harpsichord) to a big slow, plodding, Black Sabbath-indebted vibe. This leads into the peak of the album for me, “Roses On White Lace.” It’s very heavy and chugs along with super-fast drumming as Alice tells the story of a bride killed on her wedding night (which I suppose is connected to the song “Tag, You’re It” from Zipper Catches Skin). The music, lyrics, and Alice’s powerful vocal performance make this a winner. One other highlight is “Not That Kind Of Love,” whose stop-start riff and “I never wanted, I never wanted love before” refrain recall Whitesnake at their commercial peak. Kane Roberts’ superb liquid guitar work deserves special mention. The remaining songs are a bit more by-the-numbers than the rest. With 6 noteworthy tracks out of 10, however, Raise Your Fist And Yell might be a slight step up from Constrictor…but only slight.

Alice Cooper - TrashTeaming up with hitmaker Desmond Child, who had written & produced blockbusters for Kiss, Bon Jovi, Cher, Aerosmith & many more, helped spawn one of the biggest albums of his career: Trash (1989). However, what he gained in sales he lost in personality. He may have scored a Top 10 hit with the infectious single, “Poison,” but most of the songs could’ve been performed by any number of artists. That’s not to say it’s a bad album; it’s just not a very distinctive one. The aforementioned “Poison” is a great, super-catchy song filled with melodic hooks and excellent backing vocals. “Only My Heart Talkin’” is a power ballad with Steven Tyler adding his inimitable vocal embellishments. It sounds like one of Aerosmith’s many ballads but it’s missing a killer chorus that keeps it from being a classic. “This Maniac’s In Love With You” has a loping, slightly funky groove with cowbell & chugging guitar. Keyboards are highlighted more on this track than on the rest of the album, and it’s not far from the heavier end of the band Toto (which I consider a good thing, but others might disagree).

[Alice Cooper – “Trash”]

“Trash” has a fantastic propulsive groove & great guitar work, and sounds like a cross between Aerosmith (whose Tom Hamilton & Joey Kramer play on this track, along with Jon Bon Jovi on vocals) and Kiss in the ‘80s. The way Alice sings “traaaash!” could be Alice Cooper Photo (circa 1989)Gene Simmons on vocals. The guitar solo, by Alice’s bandmate John McCurry, really rocks, and I love the way the lead guitar weaves through the funky riff. “Hell Is Living Without You” is a song I shouldn’t like, as it was co-written with Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora, but I love the huge chorus with lines crossing over one another (“Hell is living without your love ain’t nothing without your touch me heaven would be like hell”). Toto’s Steve Lukather shares guitar duties with Sambora on this song. The remainder of the album features strong songs that are all radio-friendly but didn’t do much for me. One example is “House Of Fire,” a minor hit single co-written with Desmond Child & Joan Jett. It’s a big, echo-y stadium rocker that’s in the same ballpark as Bon Jovi’s “Living On A Prayer.” “Bed Of Nails” is another Bon Jovi-esque rocker, co-written with Diane Warren, that has an insanely catchy chorus. Did I mention I’m not a Bon Jovi fan? That’s the reason these songs, which I admit are professionally written & performed, are just not my thing. Only a couple of songs from Trash would be included if I put together an Alice Cooper compilation, and I doubt I’ll revisit it very often in the future.

For Hey Stoopid (1991), Alice turned to producer Peter Collins, whose credits cover the pop & rock spectrum from Nick Kershaw & Tracey Ullman to Rush, Billy Squier & Alice Cooper - Hey StoopidQueensrÿche. Collins did an excellent job of delivering a glossy yet diverse & raucous album of hard rock fun. My biggest complaint is that it’s a little bloated at 56 minutes, with 10 of its 12 songs clocking in at 4+ minutes when they would’ve been more effective in slightly shorter form. With that in mind, there’s a lot to like here, and a number of noteworthy collaborators. “Hey Stoopid” is big, glorious, over-the-top bliss, with Joe Satriani & Slash on guitar. It’s a word of warning to fellow rockers with addiction issues that doesn’t come across as preachy and, fittingly, Ozzy Osbourne is one of the guest vocalists. “Love’s A Loaded Gun” was a minor hit single that has a vibe similar to Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive,” mixing acoustic guitars and louder rock sections. The chorus is really enjoyable (“One down, one to go, just another bullet in the chamber”). See, I can enjoy something that reminds me of Bon Jovi after all. “Snakebite” begins with rattling sounds before booming drums & a heavy guitar riff show up. This could be a Ratt song from the ‘80s, and I really like Alice’s vocal inflections.

“Might As Well Be On Mars” is a 7+ minute track co-written with Desmond Child and Alice’s longtime cohort, Dick Wagner. Beginning with a mysterious acoustic intro and Alice’s clean vocals, it moves into huge choruses and a tasty guitar solo by Stef Burns that teeters between heavy metal & Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. The whole song has an incredible vibe, with his voice showing a lot of emotion as he attempts to get over a relationship. The strings add an epic quality. “Feed My Frankenstein” is the one song I Alice Cooper Photo (from Hey Stoopid)was previously familiar with. Co-written with Zodiac Mindwarp (who I’ve read about but have never heard), it may be typical hair metal but with a song this good that’s a compliment. Steve Vai & Joe Satriani deliver some unsurprisingly great guitar work and Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx plays bass. “Little By Little” is another dynamic song that moves from sparse, pulsing verses to big choruses (“Little by little we cross the line, ohh-ohh-ohh”). “Die For You” is a peppy & catchy pop song co-written with Mick Mars & Nikki Sixx from Mötley Crüe and Bryan Adams collaborator Jim Vallance. I found myself instantly singing along with the chorus (“I could’ve been someone, I could’ve been something, it would have been nothing to die for you”). “Wind-Up Toy” closes out the album. It’s a loud, stomping midtempo rocker that shifts to sparse, half-time verses with various sound effects. He’s a child whose parents put him in a loony bin (“Now I’m all smiles, these good little shots must be working…”), and Alice’s vocals deliver a perfect combination of creepiness & humor. It could be a Cheap Trick song with Rick Nielsen on vocals instead of Robin Zander. A child’s voice yells “Steeeeven” at the end, which must be a callback to the character first introduced on Welcome To My Nightmare. Like its predecessor, the rest of the songs on Hey Stoopid are solid if unspectacular, but the hit-to-miss ratio is a lot higher here. It’s not quite a classic, but it’s my favorite of the four studio albums discussed in this post.

Traveling back in time just a bit, I also checked out Live At The Whisky A-Go-Go 1969 (1991), a concert recording of the original Alice Cooper Band from 1969 that features 7 Alice Cooper - Live At The Whisky A Go Go, 1969songs from their debut album, Pretties For You, and one previously unheard song. It’s only 25 minutes long and has very good sound quality. Had I not gotten to know the first album recently I probably wouldn’t have thought much of this live recording, but now that I recognize the songs I appreciate the energy they brought to these performances, capturing the off-kilter psych-pop charm of the studio versions while giving them extra punch. The “new” song, “Nobody Likes Me,” has a touch of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” with an added dose of Flamenco-inspired guitar and splashy psychedelia, as well as excellent vocal harmonies. My favorite lyrical moment comes at the end: “Right, we all hate you, we hate you a lot, we hate all your family, we hate your dog Spot.” “Even Spot?” “Yes.” The final two songs are also two of my favorite tracks from the first album: “Sing Low, Sweet Cheerio” and “Changing Arranging.” The rest is very good, but they were still a band in their infancy, and I would only recommend it to Alice Cooper completists.

These hair metal years don’t hold up as well as some other eras in Alice’s career, but they were essential in returning him to the charts and the public consciousness after a number of years in the wilderness. I’m not sure some of his later career triumphs would’ve been possible without the success he achieved during this period. I might not come back to these albums as often as his earlier work, but I acknowledge their importance and the best songs from those four albums could form a fantastic compilation.

Advertisements

50 comments on “ALICE COOPER Part 5 – Might As Well Be On Mars / The Hair Metal Years

  1. mikeladano
    May 30, 2013

    I don’t have the Whiskey CD – it has always been very expensive any time I’ve seen it. Too expensive to take a chance.

    I agree with pretty much everything here! I love Might As Well Be On Mars, and I think it’s one of the highlights from the period. I put it on my own Alice compilations all the time even though Rhino didn’t put it on the Life and Death of. I made an Alice box set for Aaron, five discs I think, with that tune on it.

    For me, Constrictor and Raise Your Fist are well summed up in the compilation album Prince of Darkness. It has all my favourite tunes on there plus an old vintage recording of Billion Dollar Babies, a B-side probably.

    Like

    • I only heard the Whisky CD because I borrowed a copy from a friend recently, along with a number of Alice’s live albums since I only ever owned his/their studio albums.

      I’m glad we agree about “Might As Well Be On Mars.” As for the Prince Of Darkness compilation, I’ve never seen it but I’m glad there’s a collection that highlights this era. Most of the songs pale in comparison to the best parts of the Alice catalog, but if you compile the key songs from these albums it would be a very listenable disc.

      Like

  2. mikeladano
    May 30, 2013

    Oh! And you know what, there’s a single here that I think is worth mentioning: Alice’s cover of I Got A Line On You. This came between Raise Your Fist and Trash. I think it foreshadowed the sound of the Trash album a bit:

    Like

    • I believe this version of the Spirit song is on the Life & Crimes box set, which I should get to in my next post. I’m going to hold off listening to it via the YouTube clip you posted, since I want to hear it as part of the box set first, but hopefully some of my readers will enjoy this sneak preview. Thanks for posting it.

      Like

  3. Heavy Metal Overload
    May 30, 2013

    Fully agree with all your points here. I think that, besides his music, he made really important inroads with his onstage image during this time. which helped his commercial renaissance. He was clever to capitalise on the popular slasher movies of the day by making the Alice character meaner and bloodier. While the albums aren’t exactly musical high points in his career at least he can be proud of his image, which is more than most artists can say about their 80s days!

    Like

    • Great point about his image, HMO. Instead of changing his look with each release, as he had done in the era I covered in my previous post, he finally chose a distinctive look & persona. Coupled with a streamlined sound & some catchy tunes, it’s not surprising that his commercial fortunes were on the upswing in the late 80s. I hadn’t thought about his connection with the slasher movies of that time, but I totally agree with you. I wonder if that was a calculated move or just good timing.

      Like

      • mikeladano
        May 30, 2013

        Judging from interviews of the period, I would say good timing. It seems he and Kane had similar taste in movies. I have an interview with them talking about watching Evil Dead on tour all the time. Also Alice had written a movie he called Scarebox. Then he saw Hellraiser and realized it was the same idea.

        Like

      • Thanks for following up on this, Mike. You’re probably right about their fortunate timing. That was the height of slasher movies, and the creepy/macabre side of the Alice character fit in perfectly.

        Like

      • mikeladano
        May 30, 2013

        Oh for sure! And when you get to the aforementioned box set I believe there are more rare slasher songs on there.

        I thought the image worked, so kudos to HMO for pointing it out!

        Like

      • Kudos to both of you for your input. It’s greatly appreciated. I’m looking forward to diving into the box set again, since I haven’t played it in at least 10 years. Not only do I want to hear the rare material, but I’m very curious to see if I agree with their selection of album tracks, now that I’m much more familiar with the Alice catalog.

        Like

      • Heavy Metal Overload
        May 30, 2013

        I’d say a combination of both. Like Mike says, he would have been aware of it… but I’m sure it was probably a case of him using Alice (the character) to reflect the goings-on in popular culture as he has often done. He also made an excellent and creepy appearance in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness movie at that point. I think he would have been aware how popular horror was in the 80s and it would have been crazy for him not to capitalise on it. Alice was tailor-made for that kind of stuff.

        Like

      • I was really into those movies back then, and still am when they’re done well, and it was clear that Alice chose to highlight the right version of his character. Although I saw nearly every slasher flick in the early to mid 80s, when I was still a teenager, I missed a lot of those movies from the rest of the decade. I’ve still never seen Prince Of Darkness or Hellraiser. I need to remedy that one of these days.

        Like

      • mikeladano
        May 30, 2013

        I think Prince of Darkness includes an illusion that Alice used in his stage show. In that old interview, Alice says he used to have a trick where he gets impaled on a mike stand. I guess they do that trick in the movie with a bicycle.

        Like

      • You had me at “impaled on a mike stand.” Haha.

        Like

      • mikeladano
        May 30, 2013

        HAHAH!

        Like

      • Heavy Metal Overload
        June 2, 2013

        The Brutal Planet tour was the first tour I saw Alice on and I loved the show and set-list… can’t remember if the DVD did it justice or not! I’d have to rewatch. I love that he played “It’s Hot Tonight” on that tour. Alice is pretty good at reintroducing surprise deep cuts into his shows. Plenty of Classic Rock acts should take a leaf out of his book in that regard.

        Like

      • One of the reasons I’m looking forward to hearing some of the live albums for the first time is to hear which non-standards he chose for each of those tours. Once I know those albums it may help me decide which DVD I should check out after I wrap up his catalog. Thanks for the feedback, HMO.

        Like

      • Heavy Metal Overload
        June 3, 2013

        I do like the Brutally Live DVD but I agree with Mike that the Montreaux show is probably the best all -round AC show that’s available on DVD.

        Like

      • Thanks, HMO. That’s good to know. The Montreux show is one of the live discs I copied from a friend’s collection so I could include them in this series. I’ll probably get to it in a couple of weeks. Do you know if the DVD has the same track listing as the CD?

        Like

  4. BeeDeeWarner
    June 1, 2013

    Actually, Alice isn’t the one who’s impaled on the mike stand, but he’s the one who “impales” someone onstage who is posing as a photographer or stage hand. I’ve seen him do it onstage, and on videos. If you watch carefully, you can see how the trick is done. Same with the guillotine.
    Of course, after “impaling” the intruder Alice gets punished in some way – the guillotine or gallows, usually. I think he’s retired the guillotine for the current tour, but he’s got other tricks up his sleeve, so it will be interesting to see what those are when I go see him in July…(I still haven’t figured out how they do the trick he does on “Teenage Frankenstein”). I’m looking forward to his
    covers of songs by his friends who have passed on…

    Thank you, Mike, for the video of “I Got a Line on You”. I wasn’t aware of this one – loved it!

    Like

    • mikeladano
      June 1, 2013

      Ah hah! Thanks for refreshing my memory! At least I had some of the details right.

      The Teenage Frankenstein trick, is that the one with the boxes that turn into some kind of robot?

      Like

      • BeeDeeWarner
        June 1, 2013

        Yes, that’s the one. It drives me crazy, because I’ve watched the video countless times, but just can’t figure that one out. It appears that someone steps out of the platform, but it’s an awfully small area to have been hiding in. As for when they disappear, it’s on a different platform with nothing under it to hide in…a mystery, eh?

        Like

      • mikeladano
        June 1, 2013

        It has been a long time since I’ve seen that video, but as a kid I remember it confounded me. I’m going to have to look on youtube and watch it again.

        Like

      • BeeDeeWarner
        June 1, 2013

        This is on “The Nightmare Returns” video, the concert in Detroit, Halloween night, 1986. Alice’s voice is rather shaky at the beginning of the concert, but gets better as the concert progresses. I have to remember that this was only his fifth concert out in his comeback tour, after three years off to rest (following his second time in rehab). And being in Detroit, his birthplace, he may have been especially nervous. The stadium was packed with screaming fans. Alice fans never forget his greatness!

        Like

      • mikeladano
        June 1, 2013

        I had no idea that was only the 5th night. Having seen the videos as a kid, I could hear his voice was shaky but otherwise he came off to me as powerfully confident on stage! Very cool.

        Like

      • Thanks to the two of you for all this info about Alice’s stage show. Having never seen him in concert (I know, a terrible oversight), I’ve only seen clips over the years. Of all the videos/DVDs/Blu-rays that Alice has released, is there a particular title you could recommend that has a good balance of stage show, song choice, sound/video quality & performance? Much as I’d love to check out all of them, my viewing time is limited so if you could tell me which you think is the best, I will definitely check it out. Thanks.

        Like

      • mikeladano
        June 1, 2013

        Well Rich I only have a few Cooper live DVDs myself, but I like Live At Montreaux 2006. That was the year I saw him, when he was touring behind Dirty Diamonds. (You’ll get there I know but I like that album a lot.) He played a good, varied setlist with an ace band including Damon Johnson who’s now in Black Star Riders.

        Anyway that would be my pick, but I don’t have very many. The one I didn’t like very much was Brutally Live.

        Like

      • Thanks Mike. Good to know. I’ll be listening to most of the recent live albums as I get toward the end of his discography in the next few weeks. I’ll be curious to find out why you don’t like Brutally Live.

        Like

      • mikeladano
        June 1, 2013

        As I listen along with you, I’ll revisit it myself and see if I still dislike it!

        Like

      • It’s great when you revisit something you don’t like and totally change your mind about it. Maybe that’ll be the case here. Of course, more often than not our original assessments apply, but there are exceptions. I can’t wait to give the next batch of Alice albums (including the box set) another listen. I’ve been enjoying them a lot since I wrapped up the last post. I have a feeling we’ll be agreeing about a lot of the great music to come.

        Like

  5. BeeDeeWarner
    June 3, 2013

    Personally, I love “Brutally Live” the best of all the videos. But “Live at Montreux” is also very good (I especially like the “Dirty Diamonds” and “Gimme” performances). Mike, in answer to your question, the CD version doesn’t have all the songs from the DVD. “Theater of Death” is a good example of “over 60” Alice (“Nurse Rosetta” is a hoot!), but the above two are the best. The sets are great, and the variety of music and theatrics is amazing. Also, the “Brutally Live” video has a few songs with two camera views available. I prefer the original view, but there are some second views available. Calico Cooper, Alice’s oldest child, is also in these, and she proves to be a very humorous actress. The reason I think that “Brutally Live ” is the best is because in the first half he has the “demented Ninja warrior” image and in the second part he’s much flashier, with sparkly pants and less makeup. He also does a cover of The Who’s “My Generation”, which I hope he will do in the current “Wake the Dead” tour. On “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, he actually hands his cane to a young girl who is standing right next to the stage, rather than throwing it into the audience. She’d been jumping up and down with excitement the whole concert, so I thought that was a really nice touch. I just watched the old “Welcome to my NIghtmare” video again last week , and you can see the alcohol influence there bigtime. He sometimes seems a little out of it.

    Like

    • Excellent feedback, BeeDee. Once I’ve given each of the live albums a few listens and I wrap up his catalog (hopefully by the end of the month), I’ll figure out which of his DVDs to pick up. Sounds like it’ll be a choice between Montreux & Brutally Live. I really appreciate your input.

      Like

      • BeeDeeWarner
        June 3, 2013

        What’s interesting about these concert videos is how the audience reacts. “Brutally Live” was recorded at Hammersmith, in England, where they are very receptive to Alice and pretty much go crazy with everything he does, including singing along on many things. In Montreux, however, the audience is more subdued. A few people up front are there to enjoy the show. I think many of the others, though, had passes for the jazz festival and were there out of curiosity or to get their money’s worth with the pass.

        Both shows are great, though. They knew they were being taped for the video, but I doubt that had anything to do with the performance. They always give 110%. I will let you know how this year’s show goes down in July!

        Like

  6. Mark
    June 11, 2013

    Good review! I know some people complain about this period as being too commercial but I like all four of the albums you reviewed here. RYFAY was superior to Constrictor in my opinion, though “Crawlin” is one of my favorite Alice songs ever. I think “Hey Stoopid” is one of Alice’s most underrated gems. It has the commercial sense of Trash but the songs have a darker sense of humor and rock a little more.

    Like

    • Hi again, Mark. I completely agree about Hey Stoopid being an underrated gem, and definitely better than Trash. I can understand why the general public preferred Trash since it’s a little more slick & commercial, but he raised his game on the follow-up. This era certainly isn’t my favorite but I’m glad I spent some quality time with these records since I had previously dismissed them.

      Like

  7. 1537
    June 12, 2013

    Hi – I just made the exact same point about the cover of ‘Raise Your Fist and Yell’ in one of my posts – it made me laugh when i saw it in yours too! It has to be true!

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by. I checked out your post on Trash (with the comment on the Raise Your Fist album cover) and was very impressed. I like what you’re doing at your blog, which I’m now following. Nice to meet another collector. I wish I had space for 1,500+ LPs but my maximum is about 500 (most of my wall space has been taken over by about 7,000 CDs). I’m not a snob when it comes to vinyl vs. CDs (I’m not implying that you are). I just want a good physical version of the music I like. Whenever vinyl is a reasonably-priced option, that’s what I go for, but sadly the prices now are not conducive to regular purchases…and cheap used LPs have been hard to find since youngsters & hipsters alike have gotten into vinyl. No worries, though…I’ve already got enough music in my collection to last a lifetime.
      Cheers!
      Rich

      Like

      • 1537
        June 13, 2013

        Thanks I really like your epic approach to reviewing each artist – I just don’t have the attention span for that!

        I do own CDs, but they’re all crammed under beds, underneath tables, in glove compartments etc.

        Like

      • I never had the attention span to listen to full catalogs before, since I was constantly accumulating & listening to new purchases. The main purpose of this blog was to get me to revisit artist catalogs. I figured if I wrote about it I would stay focused, and so far it’s worked for over 2 years.

        Looking forward to keeping up with your blog.

        Like

  8. Hank
    June 13, 2013

    Wow…I enjoyed all these comments…where to start…

    What strikes me about this era of Alice’s career, and really, this entire era of music, when I listen to it today, is how calculated it was. I don’t know if music is as much of a form of self-identification for teenagers today as it once was, but back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, there is a history of musical genres being pitted against each other (Mods vs. Rockers, folk vs. electric, Beatles vs. Stones, punk vs. new wave, rock vs. disco). Yet although these Cooper albums propelled his catalog from the “Pop/Rock” category over to the “Metal” ghetto of every Camelot Music mall outlet in America for the duration of the 1990’s, it’s hard to hear them as anything but pop albums–songs built around hooks, riffs, and production gloss. I have nothing against pop music, except that for me, much of it just don’t seem to hold up as well over time. They’re not bad songs–in fact, they’re often initially quite enjoyable–but there is just a limited amount of repeat enjoyment to be had from them.

    Still, I liked this music then, and I can’t say that I don’t like it today, especially the song “Freedom”—the locomotive sound heard at one point during a guitar break was absolutely brilliant. The biggest problem, as mentioned, is that it is fairly generic stuff—Child also worked on Aerosmith’s late-80’s post-rehab comeback albums, and the nexus between “Trash” and “Pump” is manifest.
    And Alice’s relationship with heavy metal does make a lot of sense–although he was only about forty years old or so, this was an era in which many up-and-coming metal bands cited Alice as a major influence. Before “Constrictor”, one of Alice’s early comeback efforts was a guest vocal on Twisted Sister’s “Be Chrool To Your Scuel” on their 1985 “Come Out And Play” album.

    And, as has been discussed, in many ways, these albums as much as anything, were excuses to tour. It is amazing the diversity of people I’ve encountered over the years who cite Cooper as being one of the single best concert experiences they ever had, and there is a bunch of live material from this era–the “Nighmare Returns” video from 1986, and the “Trashes The World” video from 1989, but there was also a 1987 radio broadcast from Cincinnati that provided a half-dozen or so live B-sides, and another 1991 show that provided bonus material for the upcoming “Last Temptation”. (Tracks from “Trashes The World” also showed up on the 1995 comp “Classicks”, and the audio from “Nightmare Returns” has been officially released for download. I haven’t seen (only heard) “Nightmare Returns”, but I watched “Trashes The World” again last week, and it was the full-on Alice, complete with guillotine, that these albums only hinted at—although I can still hear the faint cry of “Steeeeeven” at the end of “Wind-Up Toy”, the last song on “Hey Stoopid”, as it sounded through the cassette tape hiss on my Walkman headphones way back when. Despite the somewhat manufactured quality of many of these songs, this was still Alice Cooper, rock legend.

    But anyway, I’m also writing this in an effort to catch up, just having read the terrific blog entry that follows on “The Last Temptation” and “Brutal Planet”. Again, I’m too old to bother much with music genres, but if anything makes the “Constrictor”-“Stoopid” era seem like pop, despite all of the blood and guitars, it’s the dramatic direction that Alice would pursue beginning with “The Last Temptation,” creating of the most exciting music of his career.

    Like

    • Hank, you brought up some excellent points. Regarding the albums covered in this post, they may not be in a genre that I ever fully embraced, but as always the songwriting (lyrics & melodies) shines through. I have no problem with Alice experimenting with different sounds & genres…to me it’s all rock/pop. That being said, a lot of people stand by their favorite genres & will avoid others like the plague, so perhaps the fact that he got pigeonholed as a heavy metal act has affected certain fans’ perceptions of his music. Heck, I was guilty of that for a long time, but eventually I saw the error of my ways & have appreciated the diversity of his catalog ever since. That diversity is evident even within the albums released during the last 10-15 years.

      I hadn’t thought about the ’80s releases being excuses for Alice to tour, but that’s a great observation. After a number of years in the wilderness, and out of the public eye, he did slowly regain his fan base during that decade. He definitely earned his return to the top with Trash, even if it’s not the most rewarding album he’s released. Much in the same way that Heart streamlined & updated their sound for the MTV generation, much to the chagrin of longtime fans, in hindsight we can’t fault our heroes for wanting their music to be heard by as many people as possible. They all eventually come back to those original fans if we wait long enough.

      I’m really glad you’re enjoying this series, and I can’t thank you enough for the kind words and for sharing your insights. They’ve definitely helped me to appreciate aspects of Alice that I hadn’t considered. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on his recent work.

      Like

  9. Deke
    January 15, 2014

    Constrictor was my first Cooper album that I purchased back in 86 as he had brought back some momentum to his career and well his theatrics were going strong and he was the only act on a arena level doing it.
    I didn’t mind it at all…I even notice Le brain got it this yr for Xmas….!!!
    Life & the Death Of The party I really dig like yourself …I skipped for some reason RaiseYour Fist… But was back on board for Trash…pretty good stuff but I can see now what u mean be it’s material is kinds scattered at the time though I thought solid and well I hate to say it but Hey Stoopid was the last Cooper I bought..other than the title track it really didn’t do it for me….maybe I missed the boat on his latter day stuff so just call me Stoopid!
    Hahahaha…
    Great read and review!

    Like

    • Thanks, Deke. It’s interesting that Constrictor was your first Alice album. Most people I know got into him/them via the ’70s records, but if you were a certain age at the time, Constrictor would’ve sounded really good (many older fans had moved on by then). A lot of the stuff he released from the mid-80s through the early-90s probably sounded different depending on the listener’s age & previous exposure to Alice’s music. There’s something about that era (usually the production choices & drum sounds) that makes it sound more dated than pretty much any other era.

      You seem to like his music enough to be open to hearing more, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you found a lot to love on his later albums. My other posts offer up just one man’s opinion, but maybe one of them will inspire you to check some of it out. By the way, excellent use of “stoopid” in your comment. Love it.

      I really appreciate you going back into my archives & sharing your thoughts on these posts. Hopefully you’ll see that I bring the same passion & excitement to each artist I cover. If you happen to comment on anything else in the next few days & you don’t hear back from me, please don’t take it personally. I may be without internet access until Sunday. I’ll be back to normal starting on Monday. I’ll wish you a good weekend now. Cheers!
      Rich

      Like

  10. Deke
    January 15, 2014

    Thanks Rich..I just bookmarked your page on my ipad with all u other guys!
    Fantastic reads by everyone …I had heard Alice before 86 I was 19 at the time and well I guess he was down an out for a few yrs in the early eighties so once he became current again I got interested in his material..I will definitely check out your other posts as well…I gotta read your Metallica stuff as well…..
    Take care…

    Like

    • Deke,
      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my blog enough to bookmark it. I’m honored. There’s a really nice community here of like-minded music geeks (er, music lovers), with lots of different perspectives on all kinds of artists. Hope you enjoy the Metallica series.
      Rich

      Like

  11. mikeladano
    February 7, 2016

    Working on my Constrictor review now. Have to say I agree with what you say here Rich. The production is really, really…80’s.

    Like

    • Looking forward to reading your review of Constrictor, Mike. It’s hard to overlook…or get past…the mid-’80s production. I can’t imagine anyone considering it a great album, but it’s an important one as it was the first step toward making Alice relevant again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mikeladano
        February 8, 2016

        Yes and there are a few highlights that I discovered. It was a fun review to write, look for that soon. I think I’ll go ahead and do Raise Your First next.

        Like

      • Write about Raise Your Fist And Yell and I will open your post and read. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Thirty Year Thursday – …AND THE REST (PART 3) / IN CONCLUSION | KamerTunesBlog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to KamerTunesBlog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 243 other followers

Archives

%d bloggers like this: