Saturday, March 15, 2008
When Alice Cooper Ruled the Earth
Regarding Senor Dockery's musings on the Coop yesterday, I posit that the Alice Cooper gradient scale is broken down into five segments:
1. "Pretties For You". The first album which is dense, poorly-recorded, psychedelic avant-garde and, with the exception of cuts like "Today Mueller" or "Reflected", sounds nothing like the band that was to come.
2. The classic years. This would be 1969-1978, spanning from the ultimate death-glam album "Easy Action" through their magnum opus LP "Billion Dollar Babies", to the late seventies when Alice actually charted huge hits with Elton John-like ballads like "I Never Cry", "You and Me" and "How You Gonna See Me Now" while somehow still maintaining his proto-goth street cred.
3. The New Wave/Punk years. From 1979 to 1984, Alice went slightly mad and released four very odd albums that were actually far cooler, weirder, punkier and edgier than the comfortable classic-rock sound he'd settled into. From sinister technopop ("Clones", "Skeletons in my Closet", "I Am the Future") to glam-rock ("The Prettiest Cop on the Block", "You Look Good in Rags") to guitar-driven quirky new wave/power pop a la The Vapors' "Turning Japanese" ("Adaptable", "Vicious Rumours", "Nuclear Infected"). His last album in this period, "Dada", was a murky and bloated rock opera of sorts.
4. The triumphant return. After laying low for awhile, AC returned to his "Alice Cooper Show" era makeup in 1986 and started releasing a slew of albums with an updated horror-metal style. It still wasn't as good as what had come before, but it was just nice that Alice was Alice again. It was also nice to see him having bonafide hits again, like "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)", "Love's a Loaded Gun", "Feed My Frankenstein" and "Poison" .
5. Everything else. I don't have much kind to say about 1994's "The Temptation of Alice Cooper" or anything that's followed since. Maybe it's OK. I dunno. I can't get worked up about it. I can see why KISS wisely decided to stop making albums and thus prevented themselves from a similar descent into mediocrity.
- - JSH