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KISS – Revenge [Review]

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KISS – Revenge
1992, Mercury Records
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1. “Unholy”
2. “Take It Off”
3. “Tough Love”
4. “Spit”
5. “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II”
6. “Domino”
7. “Heart of Chrome”
8. “Thou Shalt Not”
9. “Every Time I Look at You”
10. “Paralyzed”
11. “I Just Wanna”
12. “Carr Jam 1981”

Band:
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Bruce Kulick – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Bass
Eric Carr – Backing Vocals (“God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II”), Drums & Guitar (“Carr Jam 1981”)
Eric Singer – Drums, Backing Vocals

Additional Personnel:
Dick Wagner – Guitar (“Every Time I Look at You”)
Kevin Valentine – Drums (“Take It Off”)
Tommy Thayer – Backing Vocals
Jesse Damon – Backing Vocals

Producer: Bob Ezrin

By the mid-1980s, KISS was becoming a hair metal band. Not that I have a problem with that, because I consider KISS to be among the godfathers of hair metal (along with Aerosmith, Alice Cooper and Van Halen). But by the early ’90s, the world was changing and music was definitely changing. Bubblegum metal was no longer the flavor of choice. Bands like Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Megadeth and the like were starting to experience great commercial success with a harder sound. While the band didn’t make a drastic change in sound like they would do for 1997’s Carnival of Souls, their was a conscious effort on their part to retool their image a bit and get a bit tougher. Most of the promo shots from this era feature the band in black denim and black leather.

The album was also a shot at “redemption” for Bob Ezrin as he helped take the band to new heights with Destroyer but his collaboration with the band on Music From “The Elder” took the band to new lows in popularity. What’s funny now is, in hindsight, it seems most KISS fans now enjoy Music from “The Elder”. Of course, the band reunited with someone else from their past in Vinnie Vincent, but in a songwriting capacity only. He receives writing credits on “Unholy”, “Heart of Chrome” and “I Just Wanna”. With Ezrin and Vincent having been called in, the band was making a serious effort to deliver the best KISS album yet. According to Bruce Kulick, Gene, Paul & Bob Ezrin were extremely picky when it came to song writing on the album.

In fact, Revenge is the album where KISS’ past, present & future unite. Gene, Paul, Vinnie, Bruce Kulick, Eric Carr, Eric Singer and future guitarist Tommy Thayer all participate on the album in some form or another. I guess Ace, Peter and Mark St. John were too busy to stop by!

For the music itself, Revenge generally receives good praise. Among fans, it competes most often with Lick It Up as the best non-makeup album. Given that this was one of the last KISS albums I needed to fill the hole in my own collection, I tend to look at many of KISS’ other outputs more fondly just because I’ve spent more time with them. In fact, I heard Alive III and MTV Unplugged before I ever heard Revenge, so even now the studio versions sound “off” to me because I’m used to the live/acoustic versions .

There’s definitely some great cuts on this album though. “Unholy” kicks off the album with a darker sound than KISS had previously employed. Gene completely owns this song, it’s one of his best and it works even better when performed live in the Demon make-up. “Take It Off” is a strip club song (and a great one at that), “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II” is a re-imagining of the Argent song that will forever be tied to Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and “Domino” is yet again another amazing Gene track. Meanwhile, Paul shines on the ballad “Every Time I Look at You” and the fun and nearly-naughty “I Just Wanna” (“fuh-fuh-fuh-forget you!”).

The album closes with “Carr Jam 1981”, which was a demo recorded by Eric Carr early in his tenure in the band and was included as a tribute due to his passing away from complications of heart cancer on November 24, 1991. I believe Bruce Kulick did some work on the track after Eric’s passing in preparation for its inclusion on the album.

Though it’s not without some filler (“Spit”, “Paralyzed”), Revenge is not only one of the band’s best non-makeup albums, it’s also one of their best albums in their whole catalog.

Highlights: “Unholy”, “Take It Off”, “Tough Love”, “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II”, “Domino”, “Heart of Chrome”, “Every Time I Look at You”, “I Just Wanna”

KISS – Destroyer [Review]

Kiss_Destroyer1

KISS – Destroyer [Remastered]
1997, Mercury Records
Originally Released: 1976, Casablanca Records Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Detroit Rock City”
2. “King of the Night Time World”
3. “God of Thunder”
4. “Great Expectations”
5. “Flaming Youth”
6. “Sweet Pain”
7. “Shout It Out Loud”
8. “Beth”
9. “Do You Love Me?”
10. “Rock and Roll Party” [hidden track]

Band:
Paul Stanley – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals, Bass
Ace Frehley – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Peter Criss – Drums, Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Dick Wagner – Guitar (“Sweet Pain” & “Beth”)

Producer: Bob Ezrin

You have to give KISS credit after having just come off the success of the Alive! album — instead of coming up with a new studio release that sounded similar to their three first studio albums, they wanted something a little different and tapped Alice Cooper/Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrin to help them come up with it. Ezrin hold a co-writing credit on every song but “Sweet Pain” and “God of Thunder”.

There’s some weird stuff here. “Great Expectations” is complete with an orchestra. It’s odd, but I like it. “Flaming Youth” could’ve easily been an Alice Cooper track, I think. “Sweet Pain” is standard fare that could’ve easily been on Rock and Roll Over (which would be the band’s second album release for 1976!). “Rock and Roll Party” is a hidden track that uses echos and what sounds like backmasking and comes off as kinda creepy and I’m sure it probably only served as fuel to those that thought KISS were Knights In Satan’s Service.

Then, of course you’ve got “Detroit Rock City”, “Shout It Out Loud” and “God of Thunder”. All of which are stone-cold classics that still make it to the set list. “Beth” is another vintage KISS track and I’ve always had a soft spot for “Do You Love Me?” (which the band had a great performance of during their MTV Unplugged set).

Gene & Paul might say this is the best album KISS ever made but that probably has more to do with it making the most money. For me, it’s not their best, there’s a few quirky numbers here. They aren’t bad but they get totally outshined by “Beth, “Shout It Out Loud”, “God of Thunder” and “Detroit Rock City”.

Highlights: “Detroit Rock City”, “King of the Night Time World”, “God of Thunder”, “Great Expectations”, “Shout It Loud”, “Beth”, “Do You Love Me?”

Alice Cooper – Welcome to My Nightmare [Review]

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Alice Cooper – Welcome to My Nightmare
1975, Atlantic Records

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1. “Welcome to My Nightmare”
2. “Devil’s Food”
3. “The Black Widow”
4. “Some Folks”
5. “Only Women Bleed”
6. “Department of Youth”
7. “Cold Ethyl”
8. “Years Ago”
9. “Steven”
10. “The Awakening”
11. “Escape”

Why can I say? No knock on the Alice Cooper group but this is the best album to feature the Alice Cooper name. It’s a shame that the original band members couldn’t have carried on together but with the songwriting help of producer Bob Ezrin and guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter a classic album was indeed delivered here.

I never really stopped to think about why this album was released through Atlantic Records while the original Alice Cooper group and the rest of Alice’s solo albums up through 1983 were all released on Warner Bros. Records. What I discovered is the fact that it was a solo release came into play in addition to Welcome to My Nightmare being considered as somewhat of a soundtrack for a TV special and stage show.

Conceived with live performances in mind, this album features Alice at his most theatrical. “Welcome to My Nightmare” is one of the all-time great openers for a live show. “Devil’s Food”, with its audio effects, serve to take you only further in the nightmare. “Only Women Bleed” is the type of classic ballad that Alice has tried to replicate many times throughout his career. “Department of Youth”, “The Black Widow” and “Cold Ethyl” are fist-pumping rockers, with the lyrics to “Cold Ethyl” delivering some truly sick humor. “Some Folks” and “The Awakening” take their influence from show tunes and musicals. “Years Ago” is just plain haunting with Alice giving creepy performance and “Steven” is more of the same and one of my favorite Alice songs of all time. “Escape” closes the album on a more upbeat note.

I don’t have a personal connection with this album like I do with Trash (my first Alice album) but there’s no denying that Welcome to My Nightmare is Alice Cooper’s most consistent and greatest release. There is no filler here. This is the album that solidified Alice as a legend. Definitely worthy of cranking up on Halloween!

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Alice Cooper – The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper [Review]

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Alice Cooper – The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper
1999, Rhino Records

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Disc 1
“Don’t Blow Your Mind” – The Spiders (1966) – 2:36
“Hitch Hike” – The Spiders (1965) – 2:01
“Why Don’t You Love Me” – The Spiders (1965) – 1:57
“Lay Down And Die, Goodbye” (Original Version) – The Nazz (1967) – 2:07
“Nobody Likes Me” – (demo version – 1968) – 3:23
“Levity Ball” – (studio version – 1968) – 4:45
“Reflected” – (Pretties for You – 1969) – 3:14
“Mr. and Misdemeanor” – (Easy Action – 1970) – 3:00
“Refrigerator Heaven” – (Easy Action – 1970) – 1:54
“Caught in a Dream” – (single version – 1971) – 2:55
“I’m Eighteen” – (Love It to Death – 1971) – 2:58
“Is It My Body?” – (Love It to Death – 1971) – 2:39
“Ballad of Dwight Fry” – (Love It to Death – 1971) – 6:34
“Under My Wheels” – (Killer – 1971) – 2:47
“Be My Lover” – (Killer – 1971) – 3:21
“Desperado” – (Killer – 1971) – 3:29
“Dead Babies” – (Killer – 1971) – 5:42
“Killer” – (Killer – 1971) – 7:05
“Call It Evil” – (demo – 1971) – 3:28
“Gutter Cat Vs. The Jets” – (School’s Out – 1972) – 4:39
“School’s Out” – (single version – 1972) – 3:31

Disc 3

“It’s Hot Tonight” – (Lace and Whiskey – 1977) – 3:21
“You and Me” – (single version – 1977) – 3:25
“I Miss You” – (Billion Dollar Babies – Battle Axe – 1977) – 3:31
“No Time for Tears” – (Sextette film outtake – 1977) – 2:59
“Because (featuring The Bee Gees)” – (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band film – 1978) – 2:45
“From the Inside” – (single version – 1979) – 3:30
“How You Gonna See Me Now” – (From the Inside – 1978) – 3:53
“Serious” – (From the Inside – 1978) – 2:41
“No Tricks” – (single B-side – 1978) – 4:15
“Road Rats” – (Roadie film – 1980) – 2:43
“Clones (We’re All)” – (single version – 1980) – 2:51
“Pain” – (Flush the Fashion – 1980) – 4:10
“Who Do You Think We Are” – (single version – 1981) – 3:05
“Look at You Over There, Ripping The Sawdust From My Teddybear” – (demo – 1981) – 3:18
“For Britain Only” – (UK-only single – 1982) – 3:02
“I Am the Future” – (single version – 1982) – 3:45
“Tag, You’re It” – (Zipper Catches Skin – 1982) – 2:52
“Former Lee Warmer” – (DaDa – 1983) – 4:07
“I Love America” – (DaDa – 1983) – 3:47
“Identity Crisis” – (Monster Dog film – 1984) – 2:50
“See Me in the Mirror” – (Monster Dog film – 1984) – 3:12
“Hard Rock Summer” – (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives film – 1986) – 2:30

Disc 2
“Hello Hooray” – (Billion Dollar Babies – 1973) – 4:15
“Elected” – (single version – 1973) – 3:43
“Billion Dollar Babies” – (Billion Dollar Babies – 1973) – 3:39
“No More Mr. Nice Guy” – (Billion Dollar Babies – 1973) – 3:07
“I Love the Dead” – (Billion Dollar Babies – 1973) – 5:07
“Slick Black Limousine” – (Flexi-disc from New Musical Express – 1973) – 4:27
“Respect for the Sleepers” – (demo – 1973) – 3:48
“Muscle of Love” – (Muscle of Love – 1973) – 3:45
“Teenage Lament ’74” – (Muscle of Love – 1973) – 3:52
“Working Up a Sweat” – (Muscle of Love – 1973) – 3:31
“Man with the Golden Gun” – (Muscle of Love – 1973) – 3:13
“I’m Flash” – (Flash Fearless Versus The Zorg Women – 1975) – 2:47
“Space Pirates” – (Flash Fearless Versus The Zorg Women – 1975) – 3:30
“Welcome to My Nightmare” – (single version – 1975) – 2:54
“Only Women Bleed” – (single version – 1975) – 3:17
“Cold Ethyl” – (Welcome to My Nightmare – 1975) – 2:54
“Department of Youth” – (Welcome to My Nightmare – 1975) – 3:17
“Escape” – (Welcome to My Nightmare – 1975) – 3:14
“I Never Cry” – (Alice Cooper Goes to Hell – 1976) – 3:43
“Go to Hell” – (Alice Cooper Goes to Hell – 1976) – 5:11

Disc 4


“He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” – (Demo – 1986) – 3:20
“He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” – (Movie Mix) (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives film – 1986) – 3:44
“Teenage Frankenstein” – (Constrictor – 1986) – 3:32
“Freedom” – (Raise Your Fist and Yell – 1987) – 4:04
“Prince of Darkness” – (Raise Your Fist and Yell – 1987) – 5:09
“Under My Wheels” – (The Decline of Western Civilization II film – 1988) – 3:10
“I Got a Line On You” – (Iron Eagle II film – 1988) – 2:59
“Poison” – (Trash – 1989) – 4:27
“Trash” – (Trash – 1989) – 3:58
“Only My Heart Talkin” – (Trash – 1989) – 4:44
“Hey Stoopid” – (Single Version from Hey Stoopid – 1991) – 4:15
“Feed My Frankenstein” – (Hey Stoopid – 1991) – 4:42
“Fire” – (single b-side – 1991) – 3:00
“Lost in America” – (The Last Temptation – 1994) – 3:54
“It’s Me” – (The Last Temptation – 1994) – 4:40
“Hands of Death” (Spookshow 2000 Mix) – with Rob Zombie – (Remix of the version on “Songs in the Key of X” soundtrack – 1996) – 3:53
“Is Anyone Home?” – (A Fistful of Alice – 1997) – 4:10
“Stolen Prayer” – (The Last Temptation – 1994) – 5:35

As you can see by the wall of text (which hopefully was formatted and will post correctly) devoted to 81 songs spread out over 4 discs and, wow, this is what a box set should be. I’ve seen some labels use the box set as an excuse to release a series of albums together in their entirety or to basically do a giant-size greatest hits but The Life and Crimes… really hit the nail on the head. Sure, you get the greatest hits, the best of, the fan favorites but it’s the number of oddities and rarities that makes this a box set worth owning.

Not a single album goes untouched and this box set starts at the very beginning back when the original Alice Cooper group started out as The Spiders and then The Nazz and goes right up to 1997 when Alice released “Is Anyone Home?” as a new studio track on his live A Fistful of Alice album. Then you’ve got demos, singles, songs from soundtracks (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club BandMonster DogFriday the 13th Part VI!), remixes, B-sides, the previously UK-exclusive “For Britain Only”, etc. This one really has it all for the Alice Cooper fan!

The collection here features some of Alice’s best work and others would argue some of his worst (like his weird stuff from the late to mid ’80s). All told, warts and all, this is an excellent overview of Alice Cooper’s career.

For me, this was a great introduction to much of Alice Cooper’s catalog. Unfortunately, over time, I lost the actual box and booklet that came with the set. Oh well, at least I still have all of the CDs. I don’t think the price has dropped much over the years on this one. I think it was about $60 when it was first released but even if you’re paying $40-50 today, this is a worthy purchase for Alice fans.

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Alice Cooper – Zipper Catches Skin [Review]

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Alice Cooper – Zipper Catches Skin
1982, Warner Bros. Records

1. “Zorro’s Ascent”
2. “Make That Money (Scrooge’s Song)”
3. “I Am The Future”
4. “No Baloney Homosapiens”
5. “Adaptable (Anything for You)”
6. “I Like Girls”
7. “Remarkably Insincere”
8. “Tag, You’re It”
9. “I Better Be Good”
10. “I’m Alive (That Was the Day My Dead Pet Returned to Save My Life)”

Musicians:
Alice Cooper – Vocals, Synthesizer
Dick Wagner – Guitar
John Nitzinger – Guitar
Mike Pinera – Guitar
Billy Steele – Guitar
Erik Scott – Bass
Jan Uvena – Drums, Percussion
Duane Hitchings – Synthesizer, Guitar

Produced by Alice Cooper & Erik Scott

Another “lost” album from Alice. “Lost” as in he doesn’t remember writing or recording it due to all of the heavy drinking he was doing at the time. Alice continues to try to find his footing in a world where new wave and punk were driving musical forces and adapts his music accordingly.

That oddball Alice Cooper humor is at least back with this album. You can only imagine how silly some of these songs are by the titles alone: “Remarkably Insincere”, “Zorro’s Ascent” (a tune that a lot of people seem to like but it’s complete filler to my ears), “I Like Girls”, “No Baloney Homosapiens” and the one that sounds the most like a Weird Al Yankovic song, in terms of song title and music —  “I’m Alive (That Was the Day My Dead Pet Returned to Save My Life)”.

This album is probably just as good/just as bad as Special Forces with “I Am the Future” being my favorite track here. That song seems to combine Alice’s ’70s soft rock ballad style with synthesizers into a somewhat haunting tune that reminds me of music from Dawn of the Dead or The Warriors. This song made it’s way onto a movie soundtrack of its own — Class of 1984.

The other standouts are “Make That Money” (which features some nice guitar work), “No Baloney Homosapiens” (which is about aliens coming to earth) and the slasher movie-inspired “Tag, You’re It”.

A fairly forgettable effort all around though. Fortunately, Alice would begin to get back on track creatively with his next release, 1983’s creepy DaDa.

Highlights: “Make That Money (Scrooge’s Song)”, “I Am the Future”, “No Baloney Homosapiens”, “Remarkably Insincere”, “Tag, You’re It”

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Alice Cooper – From the Inside [Review]

alice cooper_from the inside

Alice Cooper – From the Inside
1978, Warner Bros. Records
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1. “From the Inside”
2. “Wish I Were Born in Beverly Hills”
3. “The Quiet Room”
4. “Nurse Rozetta”
6. “Millie and Billie”
7. “Serious”
8. “How You Gonna See Me Now”
9. “For Veronica’s Sake”
10. “Jackknife Johnny”
11. “Inmates (We’re All Crazy)”

Producer: David Foster

Though longtime producer Bob Ezrin and guitarist Steve Hunter are not involved in this album, Alice was able to retain the services of guitarist & songwriting partner Dick Wagner in addition to enlisting the aid of Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and a young Steve Lukather. Frequent Elton John collaborator Bernie Taupin co-wrote all lyrics with Alice. It’s no secret that this album was inspired by Alice’s time spent in the hospital while trying to become sober and that makes songs like “The Quiet Room” all the more haunting and the open and honest “How You Gonna See Me Now” all the more tender.

The previous album, Lace and Whiskey, was a bit out there for Alice, but I think From the Inside brings him a step closer to Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, at least. Still, some songs here are a sign of the times. “From the Inside” is a funky disco rock number while “How You Gonna See Me Now” is a soft rock ballad that fits right alongside “You and Me”. “Millie and Billie” is a typical late-1970s easy listening duet between Alice Cooper and a female singer.

There’s a fair number of rockers this time around though: “Nurse Rozetta” (possibly one of the sleaziest and most sexually-charged songs Alice has ever recorded), “Wish I Were Born in Beverly Hills”, “Serious” and “For Veronica’s Sake”. The album ends on a mellow note with the ballad “Jackknife Johnny” and epically produced “Inmates (We’re All Crazy)”, which has a weird dreamy vibe to it that would’ve made it perfect for a musical or Lace and Whiskey.

“How You Gonna See Me Now” and “The Quiet Room” are two of my favorite Alice songs and there’s another of other enjoyable tracks here. That makes From the Inside a minor classic in my eyes.

Highlights: “From the Inside”, “The Quiet Room”, “Nurse Rozetta”, “Serious”, “How You Gonna See Me Now”

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Alice Cooper – Lace and Whiskey [Review]

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Alice Cooper – Lace and Whiskey
1977, Warner Bros. Records
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1. “It’s Hot Tonight”
2. “Lace and Whiskey”
3. “Road Rats”
4. “Damned If You Do”
5. “You and Me”
6. “King of the Silver Screen”
7. “Ubangi Stomp”
8. “(No More) Love at Your Convenience”
9. “I Never Wrote Those Songs”
10. “My God”

Producer: Bob Ezrin

This is one of those “Alice has started drinking too much” albums that I always assumed would be incredibly cheesy and spotty without ever listening to it fully. I already knew of “It’s Hot Tonight”, “You and Me” and “Road Rats” due to their inclusion on the Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper box set. “Road Rats” I never cared for (though the version on that box set is a remixed 1980 version), but I’ve always loved “It’s Hot Tonight and “You and Me”.

Too many session players to list for this album (which was  but just know that leading the way is Alice, Bob Ezrin and guitarists Dick Wagner & Steve Hunter.

Lace and Whiskey is yet another semi-concept album with Alice debuting a brand-new character in the form of private investigator Maurice Escargot. While the whole thing comes off as very cheesy (and given that this album was inspired by showtunes and 1940s/1950s music, I’m sure that’s the point), I wouldn’t say it’s a spotty record. There’s a few duds like “Road Rats”, “King of the Silver Screen” & “Ubangi Stomp” but the rest is excellent, even if you might be able to consider most of them guilty pleasures.

“It’s Hot Tonight” is about nothing more than sex. I’m completely okay with that. “Lace and Whiskey” really hammers home the theme of being a private eye with a film noir style. A great vibe that Alice would similarly capture on the song “Dirty Diamonds” years later.

“You and Me” is Alice Cooper doing an easy listening ballad. Did the demon in the bottle make him do it or were Alice and producer Bob Ezrin looking for a big-time radio hit? Regardless, the song found itself charting at #9 on the Billboard charts as a single and the legacy continues because, as someone who used to work a day shift at Walgreens just a few years ago, I can tell you this song was played nearly every day before noon. It’s a great song but in the long run it probably did more damage than good as far as Cooper’s fanbase was concerned.

“(No More) Love at Your Convenience” is quite possibly my favorite track from this album. Such a guilty pleasure. Alice goes disco! “I Never Wrote Those Songs” is another easy listening ballad (complete with saxophone solo), but has a clever theme to it. “My God” in another fantastic piece that features a church organ.

Lace and Whiskey is definitely an oddball Alice album. He really went outside the box with this one and dropped the shock rock gimmick, but it’s a good effort for the most part and worth seeking out.

Highlights: “It’s Hot Tonight”, “Lace and Whiskey”, “You and Me”, “(No More) Love at Your Convenience”, “I Never Wrote Those Songs”, “My God”

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ALICE COOPER – Alice Cooper Goes to Hell

Alice Cooper – Alice Cooper Goes to Hell (2008, Warner Bros. Records)
Original Release: 1976, Warner Bros. Records

1. “Go to Hell” … 5:15
2. “You Gotta Dance” … 2:45
3. “I’m the Coolest” … 3:57
4. “Didn’t We Meet” … 4:16
5. “I Never Cry” … 3:44
6. “Give the Kid a Break” … 4:14
7. “Guilty” … 3:22
8. “Wake Me Gently” … 5:03
9. “Wish You Were Here” … 4:36
10. “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” … 2:08
11. “Going Home” … 3:47

Musicians:
Alice Cooper – Vocals
Dick Wagner – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Steve Hunter – Guitar
John Tropea – Guitar
Tony Levin – Bass
Babbitt – Bass
Allan Schwartzberg – Drums
Jim Gordon – Drums
Jim Maelen – Percussion
Bob Ezrin – Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Producer: Bob Ezrin

…Goes to Hell is a weird album. Then again, you can say that about every Alice release up until the albums became more streamlined beginning in the mid-’80s. First off, the album cover is terrible (but still better than Pretties For You!). When I first saw this album years ago at the old Camelot Music store and was just starting to get into Alice, I actually thought it was a low budget compilation disc judging by the pitiful artwork. It certainly had the retail price to go with it. For as long as I can remember this album could and still can be found for $6-8 bucks. I got this particular version (a part of Warner’s “Flashback” series) for $5.99 from Barnes & Noble.

I can’t lie, the song “Go To Hell” is classic Alice. Years before ever listening to this album I was familiar with it because it appeared on The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper box set, which I also own. I absolutely love it. It shows Alice in fine lyrical form talking about force feeding diabetics candy canes and poisoning a blind man’s dog (and even stealing his cane) After that rip-roaring opening classic we get disco Alice in the form of “You Gotta Dance”. It’s so bad it’s good but I can’t call it an album highlight.

The whole album basically sounds like the soundtrack to a musical. It features tons of different styles: disco rock, sappy pop ballads, ’50s doo-wop, rock ‘n’ roll, and weird laid back numbers like “I’m The Coolest”. When I hear that song, I can’t help but think of it as a song that you might hear on a Charlie Brown or early Garfield cartoon special. If you’ve ever see’em, you know what I’m talking about, those specials always had weird trippy songs.

Though there are a handful of songs that I found myself enjoying but there are only two classics, IMO. Alongside “Go To Hell”, there’s “I Never Cry” which is one of my favorite ballads from Alice but it was another song I was already familiar with thanks to the box set. I can’t help but try to sing along to it whenever I hear it.

This was the second of four albums (the others being Welcome to My Nightmare, Lace & Whiskey and DaDa) where basically Alice Cooper was more of a conceptual effort with Alice, Dick Wagner and Bob Ezrin guiding the ship. Ezrin already had a long history with the original Alice Cooper band and Wagner had played on some of their albums as well.was technically a solo act by this point but Ezrin and Wagner participated so heavily on these albums you could almost say that they were new Alice Cooper band.

Overall, this is an okay release but certainly not a classic and a pretty disappointing follow-up to Welcome to My Nightmare. Alice didn’t even tour for this album due to alcohol problems, which may help explain why this album isn’t up to snuff!

Highlights: “Go To Hell”, “I Never Cry”, “Didn’t We Meet”, “Wake Me Gently”, “Wish You Were Here”

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ALICE COOPER – DaDa

Alice Cooper – DaDa [Remastered] (2009, Rhino Entertainment/Collectors’ Choice Music)
Original Release: 1983, Warner Bros. Records

1. “DaDa” … 4:45
2. “Enough’s Enough” … 4:19
3. “Former Lee Warmer” … 4:07
4. “No Man’s Land” … 3:51
5. “Dyslexia” … 4:25
6. “Scarlet and Sheba” … 5:18
7. “I Love America” … 3:50
8. “Fresh Blood” … 5:54
9. “Pass the Gun Around” … 5:46

Musicians:
Alice Cooper – Vocals
Dick Wagner – Guitar, Bass, Backing Vocals
Prakash John – Bass
Richard Kolinka – Drums
John Anderson – Drums
Bob Ezrin – Percussion, Drums, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Graham Shaw – Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Producer: Bob Ezrin

Is is “DaDa”, “Dada” or “Da Da”? I’ve seen it all three ways but prefer “DaDa”, which is the how the album cover seems to present it.

This is an album I’ve wanted for a long time. I believe it has been out of print for a numbers of years but it was re-released under Rhino’s Collectors’ Choice Music imprint in 2009. It’s a bare bones reissue that doesn’t even credit who did what on the album. Granted, this wasn’t exactly a best-selling album because no one was paying attention to Alice in 1983 anyway (the album didn’t chart) and those that were paying attention didn’t review the album too kindly. There are some liner notes giving a description of what was going on at the time of the making of this album. Other than that, the lyrics to the entire album are printed on ONE PAGE. You’d have to have a magnifying glass to read it!

The album is fantastic as far as I’m concerned and one of Alice’s best. It’s classic Alice to me and is full of the weird, creepy and humorous lyrics that Alice’s career was built upon.

Longtime Alice producer Bob Ezrin returned for what was Alice’s last hurrah on the Warner label, having not produced a studio album with Alice since 1977’s poorly received Lace and Whiskey and it pays off big. The few albums previous to this saw Alice getting too soft & sentimental and/or experimenting way too much with new wave sounds. Alice, Ezrin and guitarist Dick Wagner sat down and wrote the whole album together.

There’s a lot of variety on this release, as is the case with many of Alice’s albums. The most interesting is the extremely creepy “Da” which was written entirely by Ezrin. It sounds like the theme music to an early ’80s slasher movie. Then there’s the Middle Eastern influence of “Scarlet and Sheba”, the redneck anthem “I Love America”, the funky “Fresh Blood” and in the classic mold of unusual Alice Cooper ballads there’s “Former Lee Warmer”. Alice could shake new wave off entirely it seems though because “Dyslexia” fills the void. Overall, I really don’t see how anyone could not like this album. It has all the trademarks of a great Alice record: odd, campy, creepy and funny and features some of his best lyrics.

Not only was this album the end of Cooper’s deal with Warner Bros. but he also “retired” from the industry having gone back to the booze and checking himself into rehab again. He had just come out of rehab around the time work on this album was getting started and if I remember correctly, he one said he remembers nothing about the writing and recording of this album. Luckily for us, he resurfaced in 1986 with Constrictor.

According to the liner notes, the original album’s liner notes stated that “for the most part” a drum machine was used and live drums were only used for embellishment.

Picked it up at a used record store across the street from Michigan State University for only $5.

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