Songs You May Have Missed #733

Alice Cooper: “The Quiet Room” (1978)

I wanna pull on your coat about another unfortunate music trend: the distillation in contemporary culture of the music of artists of past eras into a song or two.

Journey has become, for many under tha age of 30, “Don’t Stop Believin'”. The great career of Neil Diamond is summed up in the three minutes and twenty-one seconds of “Sweet Caroline”. Styx is reduced to “Renegade” and “Come Sail Away”. Johnny Cash? “Ring of Fire”.

And Alice Cooper is known by too many young music fans solely for “School’s Out”.

One day this blog will seek to remedy that properly.

In the meantime, give me a minute on my soapbox to tell you Alice had a span from 1975-78 in which he charted inside the top twenty no less than four times with ballads. These were:

“Only Women” (#12 in 1975)

“I Never Cry” (#12 in ’77)

“You and Me” (#9 in ’77)

“How You Gonna See Me Now” (#12 in ’78)

That’s four consecutive Alice Cooper albums with a ballad as the lead single–all top 20 hits

Far from the one-dimensional shock rocker the decades have folded him into, Alice Cooper should be reappraised as one of the foremost purveyors of pathos of the latter half of the 70’s.

If that don’t suit you, that’s a drag.

1978’s From the Inside LP, which Alice co-wrote with long-time Elton John sideman Bernie Taupin, is a concept album inspired by Alice’s battle with addiction. If it’s not one of his best albums it’s certainly one of his most personal and self-reflective.

The single “How You Gonna See Me Now”, is the heart-tugging deliberation of a man forced to spend time away from his family and wondering if he’ll be welcomed back when his time of institutionalization ends. A man questioning whether the pieces of his life will still be there to put back together.

Taupin’s lyric is deliberately ambiguous enough to lend itself to interpretations of criminal incarceration, a stint in rehab, or a stay in a sanitarium. It’s a tender, affecting and these days very much overlooked song.

“The Quiet Room” is another animal. No such ambiguity here. The protagonist is clearly, in the jargon of the day, in an insane asylum. And the material plays to Alice Cooper’s performative strengths, alternating in schizophrenic fashion from tender verses to unhinged choruses.

Alice Cooper is a brilliant singer actually, and sings in a variety of voices when a song calls for a variety of moods (or even multiple personalities on songs such as “Years Ago” and “Ballad of Dwight Fry”).

Okay so this may or may not send you back to listen more closely to Alice Cooper’s 70’s records. My main point is: the guy was a versatile and talented songwriter, one of the era’s best, and there’s a heck of a lot more to him than “School’s Out”.

Songs You May Have Missed #707

Hollywood Vampires: “I Got a Line On You” (2015)

Fittingly, Alice Cooper-fronted supergroup/side project Hollywood Vampires mostly covered dead rockers on their 2015 debut release.

Cooper, guitarist Joe Perry and Johnny Depp form the core of the band, with Cooper’s old pal Bob Ezrin producing and a stupifying list of guest stars dropping by throughout.

Guest vampires include Dave Grohl, Perry Farrell, Sir Paul McCartney, Slash, Joe Walsh, Robbie Krieger, Zak Starkey, Brian Johnson and Kip Winger.

The result is one raucous party of a record, with MC Alice bringing all his multiple vocal personalities to the mic as required to revive the spirits of legends such as Jim Morrison, T.Rex, John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Badfinger and, on this burner of a track, Spirit’s Randy California.

Sacrilegious as it might sound, this supergroup’s performances might just out-do some of the originals.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2019/08/24/songs-you-may-have-missed-642/

Video of the Week: An Interview with America’s Sweetheart, Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper, “shock rocker”. Alice Cooper, recovered alcoholic. Alice Cooper, chicken killer. You know all the usual portrayals.

What you’re about to learn–if you watch this 2005 Australian TV interview–is that Alice is a mild-mannered, articulate, cultured kinda guy. And quite humorous too.

Alice Cooper Provides a Solid Rock for Teens During COVID-19 Crisis

alice

Photo credit: Surreal Sister

(via SPIN) by Katherine Yeske Taylor

Sometimes, something suddenly appears that’s so unsettling, even the king of shock rock himself is startled. That’s what happened when Alice Cooper was forced to cancel his European tour in the midst of something scarier than what Cooper does in his notorious horror rock show.

“It’s strange times. I’ve never lived in a time when one infinitesimal thing that you can’t even see has literally stopped the entire world,” Cooper says, sounding astonished while speaking from his home in Arizona.

Cooper’s wife, Sheryl, is also on the call. She performs in her husband’s show (often portraying a psychotic nurse), and she seems stunned as she recounts the unexpected and abrupt end to their show in Berlin. As she tells it, they were told to “jump off the stage and go directly to our bus in full makeup and costumes.” Almost 24 hours of exhaustive travel later, they made it back to Phoenix – but they “got home, no food in the house, went to the grocery store, no food at the grocery store. What’s happening?”

Read more: https://www.spin.com/2020/04/alice-cooper-provides-a-solid-rock-for-teens-during-the-covid-19-crisis/?fbclid=IwAR3LhmvpJp2DNitKYEVjX6BBPdLpZ4uYbN5cvGLfPmZ16312iBZJLVJjs78

‘We found it rolled up in a tube’: Alice Cooper Discovers Warhol Classic after 40 years

Photo courtesy of Alice Cooper

(via The Guardian) by Edward Helmore

The rock star Alice Cooper has found an Andy Warhol masterpiece that could be worth millions “rolled up in a tube” in a storage locker, where it lay forgotten for more than 40 years.

The work in question is a red Little Electric Chair silkscreen, from Warhol’s Death and Disaster series. Never stretched on a frame, it sat in storage alongside touring artefacts including an electric chair that Cooper used in the early 70s as part of his ghoulish stage show.

According to Shep Gordon, the singer’s longtime manager, Cooper and Warhol became friends at the famous Max’s Kansas City venue in New York City…

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jul/24/alice-cooper-andy-warhol-little-electric-chair

Photograph courtesy Bob Gruen

Songs You May Have Missed #642

Hollywood Vampires: “Welcome to Bushwackers” (2019)

Hollywood Vampires are an Alice Cooper-fronted side project that also features Joe Perry and Johnny Depp.

Their first album’s guest list reads like a debauched Hollywood rock ‘n roll party, which in a sense it was. Paul McCartney, Slash, Joe Walsh, Robby Krieger, Kip Winger, Dave Grohl, Perry Farrell and Brian Johnson all contributed to an album that mainly featured covers from the days when Cooper stalked SoCal with another group of musicians, also dubbed the Hollywood Vampires. That merry band included John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon, Ringo Starr and Mickey Dolenz and their antics were legendary, as you might expect from any merry band containing two drummers.

This Hollywood Vampires is an actual band, and not only do they rock, but they’re aptly named. Alice of course is the king of theatrical rock. And though Johnny Depp might not be a name that would come to mind if you were forming a supergroup, his own theatrical tendencies actually make sense in the context of a band fronted by a guy whose best work always conjured a visual element.

“Welcome to Bushwackers”, from their second release, features yet another guest superstar, Jeff Beck.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2021/08/12/songs-you-may-have-missed-707/

Video of the Week: Interview with Alice Cooper on Late Musician Glen Campbell

Did You Ever Realize…

alice 2

That awesome time in 1975 when there was a giant Alice Cooper balloon

alice

(via Dangerous Minds)

http://dangerousminds.net/comments/that_awesome_time_in_1975_when_there_was_a_giant_alice_cooper_balloon

_____________________________________

Also…

Love it to death: Alice Cooper’s original guillotine ‘headed’ to auction

e

http://dangerousminds.net/comments/love_it_to_death_alice_coopers_original_guillotine_headed_to_auction

Recommended Albums #65

nightmare 2

Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare (1975)

alice 1Welcome to My Nightmare is so many things.

This is the album that ushered in Alice’s solo career after the Alice Cooper band’s half-decade of success with hits such as “I’m Eighteen”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “School’s Out”.

This is Alice’s only top ten album as a solo artist (it peaked at #5). He never again equaled its success or its excellence.

This is a concept album and the template for several other conceptual records Alice would release over the years–but Nightmare is by far the best in terms of execution.

Speaking of execution, Nightmare was tied in with a new live show that essentially brought Halloween and Rock music together onstage and culminated with the protagonist’s grisly nightly demise, a concert format that continues to this day.

Welcome to My Nightmare exchanged the musical gut punch of the Alice Cooper band for a more polished, fully-orchestrated Bob Ezrin-produced sound. The strings, horns and harmonies gave the album a broader palette and a deeper resonance; the creepy bits were creepier and the weepy bits weepier. Listen to a sample of Ezrin’s orchestration from “Steven” and note its similarity in feel to “Beth” by Kiss, released the following year and also co-written and produced by Ezrin:

“Devil’s Food” features a cameo by horror legend Vincent Price, who lends just the right element of creepy camp to the proceedings.

alice 2“Some Folks” takes things into cabaret territory, adding one more flavor to a record more diverse than anything the Alice Cooper band had done.

“Only Women”, with its acoustic guitars and muted horn charts reaches an emotional crescendo Alice had never before been able to achieve with his old band. The #12 hit added a new dimension to Alice’s career as a singles artist, that of credible balladeer; his next three albums would feature a love song as a hit single (“I Never Cry”, “You and Me” and “How You Gonna See Me Now”).

“Cold Ethyl” is just your everyday run-of-the-mill paean to, um, necrophilia.

But it’s with “Years Ago”, “Steven” and “The Awakening” that things get really dark. The overarching concept of the album is the ongoing nightmare of Alice’s protagonist character, but here on what used to be the vinyl album’s side two (as it happens) Alice delves into a world of schizoid delusion. Terrificly horrific stuff, well conceived and arranged. Where “Cold Ethyl” is a comic lark, these songs are truly chilling.

Producer/co-writer Bob Ezrin and guitarist/co-writer Dick Wagner are the unsung heroes of this album, the greatest of Alice Cooper’s long solo career. Without them this record wouldn’t be what it is: a true classic.

Listen to: “Devil’s Food/The Black Widow”

Listen to: “Some Folks”

Listen to: “Cold Ethyl”

Listen to: “Years Ago/Steven”

Listen to: “The Awakening”

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: