Alice Cooper

(Copyright © 1999-2021 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Pretties For You (1969), 7/10
Easy Action (1970), 6/10
School's Out (1972), 6.5/10
Love It To Death (1971), 7/10
Billion Dollar Babies (1973), 6.5/10
Muscle of Love (1974), 5/10
Welcome To My Nightmare (1975), 6/10
Alice Cooper Goes To Hell (1976), 5/10
Lace And Whiskey (1977), 4.5/10
From The Inside (1978), 5/10
Flush the Fashion (1980), 4.5/10
Special Forces (1981), 4/10
Zipper Catches Skin (1982), 4/10
Dada (1983), 4.5/10
Constrictor (1986), 4.5/10
Raise Your Fist And Yell (1987), 4.5/10
Trash (1989), 5/10
Hey Stoopid (1991), 4.5/10
The Last Temptation (1994), 4.5/10
Brutal Planet (2000), 5/10
Dragontown (2001), 4.5/10
Along Came A Spider (2008), 4/10
Welcome 2 My Nightmarez (2011), 4/10
Paranormal (2017), 5/10
Detroit Stories (2021), 5/10

Alice Cooper became the first star of horror-shock rock, relying on the most truculent and ridiculous show of the era. But Cooper had been a disciple of Frank Zappa's satirical operettas, mainly on Pretties For You (1969), and later became, first and foremost, a terrific craftman of "teenage anthems" in the tradition of Chuck Berry. Epically defiant, Under My Wheels (1971) and School's Out (1972) represent the authentic, subversive spirit of rock'n'roll, while albums such as Love It To Death (1971) continued to recycle and borrow themes from the vaudeville, Broadway showtunes, horror movies, and the Grand Guignol.
If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me.
Scroll down for recent reviews in English.
Alice Cooper e` celebre per aver inventato l'horror-shock rock, ma in realta` e` stato soprattutto un grande confezionatore di "teenage anthems", nella piu` pura tradizione di Chuck Berry. Epicamente ribelli, essi rappresentano lo spirito del rock and roll in tutta la sua forza eversiva. Le sue stravaganti e oltraggiose "pose" avevano radici nel vaudeville, nei musical di Broadway, negli horror movies, nell'operetta e nel teatro del Grand Guignol.

Vincent Furnier, proveniente dall'entroterra dell'heavy-metal (Detroit), esordi` a Los Angeles come discepolo di Frank Zappa, anche se a renderlo popolare presso i kids della classe media fu il battage pubblicitario che lo presento` come reincarnazione di una bambina morta bruciata viva due secoli prima, tale "Alice Cooper".

Pretties For You (Straight, 1969) prende a modello le operette dada di Frank Zappa. Le varie scene sono separate da intermezzi idioti (operatici, vaudeville, avanguardistici) della durata di un minuto. Nel marasma si contano un'ouverture sinfonica, una jam di blues, diversi ritornelli beat e soprattutto reperti di psichedelia (Fields Of Regret e Levity Ball). Il risultato e` oltraggioso, ma naif.

Beat, blues-rock e psichedelia sono le ispirazioni di fondo anche del successivo Easy Action (1970), dove pero` le gag (allungate nella forma suite) hanno meno mordente e fantasia e rivelano un mediocre e sfocato bubblegum per intellettuali (Mr Misdemeanor, (Laughing At Me, Shoe Salesman, Return Of The Spiders) ed esperimenti auto-indulgenti (Lay Down And Die Goodbye).

Trasferitosi di nuovo a Detroit (negli anni caldi di MC5 e Stooges), Cooper decise allora di togliersi la maschera di sperimentatore e di calare la sua indubbia versatilita` nella tradizionale forma-canzone del rock. Le composizioni piu` riuscite di Love It To Death (Warner, 1971) ne definiscono cosi` la vera personalita`, perche' sono invariabilmente quelle piu` hard-rock (I'm Eighteen, per celebrare la nuova legge che consentiva di bere alcool a diciottanni) e gli anthem adolescenziali (Caught In A Dream).

Da genio a guitto il passo e` breve. Il nuovo repertorio consta di mostruose extravaganze teatrali con enfasi sul travestismo e sull'horror-shock. Killer (1971) contiene Dead Babies e soprattutto Under My Wheels. Con School's Out (1972) Cooper diventa una star, esibendo senza ritegno ogni sorta di depravazione maniacale, con particolare predilezione per la necrofilia (I Love The Dead, Mary Ann), ma senza mai abbandonare il filone degli inni adolescenziali nel quale cesella ancora diversi classici (School's Out, Elected). Persino Salvador Dali` si scomodo` per lui (lo uso` per una sua crezione olografica del 1973). Billion Dollar Babies (Warner, 1973), con Billion Dollar Babies, Hello Hooray, Generation Landslide, Elected and No More Nice Guy, e Muscle of Love (1974) sono gli altri album milionari dell'epoca. Inebetito dall'alcool e dalla droga, deve pero` rassegnarsi ad una parte di comprimario, misera controparte di Bowie e Morrison in teatrini di periferia.

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Alice Cooper eventually looked for help to fight his alcohol and drugs addictions. Welcome To My Nightmare (1975) introduced a whole new line-up, and a new Cooper: Only Women Bleed is a ballad with brass arrangements and Some Folks is a cabaret skit. Black Widow (although too similar to David Bowie's Sweet Thing) and especially the "Steven" tryptich (Years Ago, Steven, The Awakening) make this first "solo" album a worthy continuation of the silly saga.

Alice Cooper Goes To Hell (1976), with I Never Cry, Lace And Whiskey (1977), that sets a crime-novel to music, From The Inside (1978), inspired by his experience as an inmate of a psychiatric institution, Flush the Fashion (1980), Special Forces (1981), Zipper Catches Skin (1982), and Dada (1983) marked the slow but steady decline of his antics. The age of punk-rock and speed-metal was not terribly interested in his old-fashioned sound.

Cooper tried a new career with the lame pop-metal ofd Constrictor (MCA, 1986) and Raise Your Fist And Yell (1987), and finally scored a new hit with Poison, from Trash (Epic, 1989). But Hey Stoopid (Epic, 1991) and The Last Temptation (1994) failed to capitalized on it.

The brutal attack of Brutal Planet (2000) and Dragontown (Spitfire, 2001) tried, one more time, to resurrect the aging star.

The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper (Rhino) is a four-disc box-set that summarizes Cooper's career.

Along Came A Spider (2008) was a mediocre return to the stage.

Welcome 2 My Nightmarez (2011) was, instead, an amusing (if not groundbreaking) set of pop songs: notably the power-ballad I Am Made of You, the hilarious skit of Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever, a version of ZZ Top's electronic boogie for zombies, and Ghouls Gone Wild, catchy punk-rock a` la New York Dolls with a surf-style refrain. The limitations of Alice Cooper can be summarized in the fact that too many of the songs sound like covers: the roaring A Runaway Train, that sounds like Bob Dylan gone southern boogie, I'll Bite Your Face Off, a faithful imitation of the classic sounds of the Rolling Stones, Last Man on Earth, a blues lament for marching band, I Gotta Get Outta Here, that mixes blue-collar rock and Mersey-beat.

There is nothing wrong with Paranormal (2017). If a younger band have included the evil southern boogie Fallen In Love, the percussive punk-pop You And All Of Your Friends and the big-band rockabilly Holy Water on the same album, the press would waste accolades all over them. Alice Cooper did his best to prove that he could stand up to the new generations, and even gifted a trademark Alice Cooper-ian anthem to his old fans, Genuine American Girl.

The autobiographical Detroit Stories (2021), produced by Bob Ezrin, was the first Alice Cooper album to top the sales charts despite being nothing special. There is little of note past the four covers: the Velvet Underground's Rock & Roll (1970), Outrageous Cherry's Our Love Will Change the World (2005), MC5's Sister Anne (1971) and Bob Segar's East Side Story (1966). The psychobilly Go Man Go (with Wayne Kramer of MC5 on guitar), the rowdy boogie Social Debris, the visceral funk-soul $1000 High Heel Shoes, the Chuck Berry-esque rock'n'roll Hail Mary, the singalong pub anthem Detroit City 2021, are nostalgic tributes to an era but in that era these songs would have been considered too stereotypical to be taken seriously. Then, again, perhaps Alice Cooper was never meant to be taken seriously.

What is unique about this music database