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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 – Flush the Fashion [Review]

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Alice Cooper – Flush the Fashion
1980, Warner Bros. Records

Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Talk Talk” (Sean Bonniwell)
2. “Clones (We’re All)” (David Carron)
3. “Pain”
4. “Leather Boots” (Geoff Westen)
5. “Aspirin Damage”
6. “Nuclear Infected” – 2:14
7. “Grim Facts” – 3:24
8. “Model Citizen” – 2:39
9. “Dance Yourself to Death”
10. “Headlines”

Musicians:
Alice Cooper – Lead Vocals
Davey Johnstone – Guitar
Fred Mandel – Guitar, Keyboards
John Cooker Lopresti – Bass
Dennis Conway – Drums

Producer: Roy Thomas Baker

Flush the Fashion is the beginning of Alice’s new wave-inspired era, which would run for a few more albums. If new wave is the way Alice wanted to go, it only makes seems that he hooked up with Roy Thomas Baker for this album. Roy had already been having success in the genre with new wave icons The Cars. Too bad Ric Ocasek didn’t sit down and co-write some songs with Alice. While Lace and Whiskey and From the Inside are quirky classics in their own right, I can’t really say the same for Flush the Fashion.

Three of the songs here weren’t even written by Alice. “Talk Talk” was originally performed by ’60s garage rock band The Music Machine. I don’t mind this song at all but I think it’s an odd way to open the album. “Clones” and “Leather Boots” used outside writers and they are the two most “new wave” sounding tracks on the whole album. “Leather Boots” is not good at all, sounds like something Squeeze would’ve recorded, but “Clones” is actually enjoyable if you don’t mind new wave music and it is the most well-known song of the bunch.

There are two other tracks here that I like. “Pain” seems like an attempt to do something that might have belonged on Welcome to My Nightmare but it comes across more as a sign of what’s to come on 1983’s DaDa. The final track that I would consider to be of any value is “Grim Facts”. It’s the most straight-forward rocker out of the bunch and it’s a breath of fresh air on this album.

One thing about Alice Cooper is that he’s always willing to change with the times. While most of his songs generally have fallen under the broad genre of “rock”, he’s not afraid to get in there and experiment with different styles. While you can say that his willingness to try disco, soft rock and new wave music in the late 1970s/early 1980s hurt his career, it still produced a number of classic tunes and more than handful of guilty pleasures.

So, yes, Flush the Fashion delivers a few tracks worth seeking out but the album as a whole is Alice’s first dud as a solo artist. Even his new image falls flat as during the time of this album/tour he looked something like an old drag queen or schoolmarm.

Highlights: “Talk Talk”, “Clones (We’re All)”, “Pain”, “Grim Facts”

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The Cars – Move Like This

The Cars – Move Like This (2011, Hear Music)

1. “Blue Tip”
2. “Too Late”
3. “Keep On Knocking”
4. “Soon”
5. “Sad Song”
6. “Free”
7. “Drag On Forever”
8. “Take Another Look”
9. “It’s Only”
10. “Hits Me”

Band:
Ric Ocasek – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Elliot Easton – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Greg Hawkes – Keyboards, Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals
David Robinson – Drums, Backing Vocals

Producer: Jacknife Lee and The Cars

Believe it or not, I’m actually a fan of The Cars. Maybe not a HUGE fan (I don’t own Heartbeat City or Door to Door) but I like the early albums a lot. Though new wave music has some charm, it isn’t really a type of music I’ve ever listened to intently. Sure, I love the plethora of new wave hits that bombarded radio in the early ’80s like anyone else but I never cared enough to delve deeper into the scene. But yet… there’s something about The Cars that appeals to me. It’s probably the fact that while they are new wave, they aren’t strictly new wave. I think I would become very bored with them if they were only that. They combine power pop, rock, pop, hard rock and new wave into one nice package. A riff is just as likely to come from the guitar as it is from the keyboard and I honestly don’t think they receive enough accolades for just how good their music is.

I’ve also always enjoyed Ric Ocasek’s vocals and lyrics. His vocals have always had this calm, cold almost disconnected feeling to them, as if he was simply an observer. Meanwhile, the meaning of his lyrics aren’t always clear (in fact, sometimes I think it’s just gibberish so it’ll rhyme but that’s par for the course in new wave) but I’ve always enjoyed reading along as the song plays.

Well, what can be said about this album? First of all, it is it the first Cars album since 1987. The original Cars disbanded in 1988 but in 2005 a bit of an odd thing happened — The New Cars formed. Yet, it only featured Cars members Greg Hawkes & Elliot Easton and rounding out the band were Todd Rundgren and frequent Rundgren collaborators Prairie Prince and Kasim Sulton. The group toured playing a mix of Rundgren and Cars tunes but did release a live album called It’s Alive that featured a three new studio tracks but it was predominantly filled with classic Cars tunes (two Rundgren tracks also made the cut). I guess there was more money to be made cashing in on The Cars’ name than Rundgren’s.

Well, The New Cars were done by 2007 and in 2010 the original Cars were back together (sadly, original bassist Benjamin Orr passed away in 2000). I’m not familiar with the details of this reunion. A Cars reunion had been rumored since the late ’90s but Ocasek always rebuffed such gossip and a part of the reason The New Cars formed is because he had no interest in doing such a reunion. So why now? I’m not sure. Whether it’s for personal or financial fulfillment Move Like This is no lazy effort. I have to think there’s more of an artistic than monetary reason for this reunion, otherwise I’m sure they could’ve floated by on the summer touring circuit just being a nostalgia act. But to record new and release new music? That exemplifies dedication and passion in this day and age in an industry that isn’t kind to aging acts… and is barely kind to the young ones!

More about the album itself, as soon as it opens with quirky upbeat “Blue Tip”, you know you’re listening to The Cars. While it isn’t my favorite song on the album,  it definitely sounds like something that could have come from the first few albums. To me, there’s no mistaking when you hear The Cars and that’s the great thing about this whole album — it’s like a lost Cars release! Even though this album still fits under new wave, because of all the other rock/pop influences I mentioned, it still has a timeless sound to it just like the band’s early releases do. Another great thing about The Cars are the ballads and they do not disappoint on this release. “Too Late”, “Soon” and “Take Another Look” are all fantastic moments on this album with “Too Late” being my favorite song on the whole release. The rest of the album is the usual high standard of upbeat sounding (if not lyrically) numbers we’ve come to expect from this band like “Sad Song”, “Free”, “Hits Me” and the aforementioned “Blue Tip”.

Ric has crafted something really special with Move Like This. It is a more than worthy addition to the band’s catalog and if any of these songs get played in a live setting, they’ll fit in seamlessly with the rest of the band’s classics. Casual fans probably won’t even be able to tell these are new songs.

Highlights: “Blue Tip”, “Too Late”, “Soon”, “Sad Song”, “Take Another Look”, “Hits Me”

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