Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Go ask Alice...

…what Vincent Furnier got for his 60th birthday.  Our favorite Rock ‘N’ Roll ghoul this side of Gene Simmons, the legendary Alice Cooper, hit the big 6-0 yesterday—pretty shocking for a shock Rocker.  But AC is still quite active these days, and his syndicated radio show, “Nights With Alice Cooper” is rather enjoyable, as he always digs up some obscure old-school stuff and plays it, but sadly we don’t get it here in KC anymore with the recent demise of 99.7 KY.  Alice is also a rather paradoxical individual.  He was condemned by the religious right for his demonic stage show, yet he’s the son of a minister, and swears off using profanity (tee-hee!).  He’s the quintessential Rock Star, yet his major vice now is playing golf!  He’s a reformed alcoholic, but owns a chain of baseball-themed sports bars (named “Cooperstown”, naturally).

Cooper’s heyday was the early ‘70s, of course, and he paved the way for not only theatrical bands like Kiss, but the whole Glam Rock genre as well.  Alice overindulged in alcohol and his career nosedived in the late ‘70s, apart from several middle-of-the-road hit singles, like “How You Gonna See Me Now?” (co-written by Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin), "I Never Cry", "You And Me" and “Only Women Bleed”, and by the ‘80s, Alice was pretty much a has-been.  Then he resurrected his career in 1989 with his killer comeback album Trash, which featured contributions from the members of Aerosmith and Bon Jovi, and he’s toured pretty steadily since then.  For some reason, I’ve never seen Alice in concert before, so I can’t really comment on his live act, other than what I’ve seen in videos, and there’s nothing too outrageous for him to try on stage, including beheading himself and living to tell about it.

My All-Time Alice Cooper Top 15 (or so):
15) [tie] “Bed Of Nails” (1989)/"Spark In The Dark" (1989)  These two songs from Trash are very similar in terms of style and content, so I include them together.  With lines like "I'll drive you like a hammer on a bed of nails" and "I wanna touch you everywhere", there ain't a whole lotta subtlety here...
14) “I Got A Line On You” (1988)  Nice remake of the 1969 Spirit classic, which was included on the soundtrack of the Louis Gossett, Jr. action flick Iron Eagle II.
13) “Hey Stoopid” (1991)  Title track of the rather disappointing follow-up to Trash, it's a pretty good anti-drug song along the lines of "Kicks" by Paul Revere & The Raidersi.e., it gets its point across without losing its cool.  It also features a cameo appearance by Ozzy Osbourne and guitar from Joe Satriani and Slash from G 'n' R.  And that's future Kiss drummer Eric Singer on the drums in the video.
12) "House Of Fire" (1989)  Another romantic love ballad from Alice, this time co-written by Joan Jett.
11) “Might As Well Be On Mars” (1991)  Great song from Hey Stoopid about feeling alienated from friends.  This came out during a period when I felt blown-off by some co-workers I thought were my friends, so I related to it, big-time.
10) “Clones (We’re All)” (1980)  One of Alice's oddest tunes, which came out during the period where he was very unfocused musically, but for some reason, I really like this one.  Rather trippy in a Gary Numan-sort of way.
9) “Hello Hooray” (1974)  Opening track off what was probably AC's best '70s album, Billion Dollar Babies.  I didn't think much of this one at first, but it's really grown on me over time.
8) "I'm Eighteen" (1971)  Alice's music publishing company filed a lawsuit against Paul Stanley and Kiss in 1999 because his song "Dreamin'" off the Psycho Circus album bears more than a passing resemblance to the tune of "I'm Eighteen".  Alice himself wasn't all that upset about it, though.  Gotta love the old video of this one where Alice was clearly drunk off his ass and stumbling around in those platform shoes.
7) “Poison” (1989)  Song that put AC back on the map and introduced him to a whole new generation of headbangers to boot.
6) “Under My Wheels” (1974)  If and when I ever do break down and get a cell phone, I want a ringtone on it with this song's opening line, "The telephone is ringin'..."
5) “Be My Lover” (1971)  This was the first thing I ever remember hearing from Alice on AM radio when I was seven.  I love the story behind that mysterious "click" near the end of the song right after Alice sings, "...and I'm still on my own".  Seems that drummer Neil Smith was being a hot dog in the studio by twirling his sticks as if he were on-stage, and he fumbled them.  They left it in anyway...
4) “Why Trust You?” (1989)  A song I dedicate (with love) to Dubya, especially the lines "You promised me the moon and the stars and the sun, but you never did nothing for anyone," and "I wonder how low you would go, I wonder how high your head would blow...Gimme one good reason--why trust you?"
3) “School’s Out” (1972)  Pretty hard not to like this anthem whilst growing up during the '70s.
2) “No More Mr. Nice Guy” (1973)  Very underrated guitar work here by the late Glen Buxton, and one of the greatest "fuck you" songs ever.
1) “Elected” (1972)  Purely tongue-in-cheek, but so very classic.  I remember seeing the "campaign video" on "Midnight Special" way back in the day.  Shit, at this point, I wish to hell Big Al would fucking run for PresidentI'd cast my vote for the Wild Party in a heartbeat.  Yankee Doodle Dandy, indeed!


dr sardonicus said...

"Long Way To Go" and "The Ballad Of Dwight Fry" are conspicuous by their absence, and covering "I Got A Line On You" was a bad idea. Says this Spirit fan.

Around here, Alice Cooper's radio show can be heard on D93 out of Bowling Green, Kentucky, which I can't pick up at home, but if I drive up the big hill about two miles north of my house, it comes in loud and clear.

Brian Holland said...

The conspicuous-ness of "Long Way To Go" and "Dwight Fry" not being on the list is easily explained: I don't have either track in my collection, therefore I'm not familiar with them. My collection is monstrous, but I don't quite have everything...