Posts Tagged ‘Alice Cooper’

The album pays tribute to the city that launched the original Alice Cooper Band. “Detroit was the birthplace of angry hard rock,” said Cooper. “After not fitting in anywhere in the U.S. (musically or image-wise), Detroit was the only place that recognized the Alice Cooper Band guitar-driven, hard rock sound and our crazy stage show.”  

“Rock & Roll”: A Detroit Story… Alice Cooper releases “Rock & Roll” as a first taste of the sound and fury we can expect from the upcoming studio album “Detroit Stories”, coming February 26th, 2021 on earMUSIC. “Rock & Roll”, a classic song by The Velvet Underground from the album “Loaded”, is not a casual choice: It´s a song of joy and celebration of that magical moment when we all first turned on Rock and Roll radio …and it saved our lives.

Have a listen: Maybe it will save yours too! Here are some interesting Detroit Stories for the fans of rock and roll trivia and for those who believe that nothing happens by chance (especially in Detroit). In 1971, the Alice Cooper Group was working in Detroit, with producer Bob Ezrin. Around the same time, also in Detroit, a band called… Detroit, which featured Mitch Ryder, Johnny Bee and Steve Hunter, recorded a heavy new arrangement of Lou Reed’s “Rock & Roll” also produced by… Bob Ezrin. It was when he heard that version that Lou Reed decided to work with Ezrin on the follow-up to his monster hit album “Transformer”.

Their collaboration produced the seminal and fascinating classic album “Berlin”. But wait: There is more! Steve Hunter, the amazing guitar player who created the iconic main riff that drives Detroit´s cover of the song in 1971, ended up working with Ezrin on many of his productions. He toured and recorded with Alice and with Lou Reed as well…and that same riff is the backbone of this new recording of the song which was done in…Detroit, of course. Alice Cooper and Lou Reed shared a relationship of mutual respect and friendship over the years. Bob and Lou collaborated several other times and were dear friends for 40 years. Alice and Bob can’t remember how many albums this is and have been creative partners for 50 years.

Listen to Alice’s powerful new version of Lou Reed’s “Rock & Roll” featuring Johnny “Bee” Badanjek (Detroit Wheels), Steve Hunter (Detroit), Paul Randolph (legendary Detroit jazz and R&B bassist) and special guests Joe Bonamassa and Tommy Henriksen (for this occasion, crowned “Honorary Detroiters”) here: https://alicecooper.lnk.to/RocknRoll “Detroit Stories”, Alice’s upcoming new album, is a celebration of the sound and spirit of the Golden Era of Detroit rock. “Detroit was Heavy Rock central then,” explains Alice, “You’d play the Eastown and it would be Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, the Stooges and the Who, for $4! The next weekend at the Grande it was MC5, Brownsville Station and Fleetwood Mac, or Savoy Brown or the Small Faces. You couldn’t be a soft-rock band or you’d get your ass kicked.” “Los Angeles had its sound with The Doors, Love and Buffalo Springfield,” he says, “San Francisco had the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. New York had The Rascals and The Velvet Underground. But Detroit was the birthplace of angry hard rock. After not fitting in anywhere in the US (musically or image wise) Detroit was the only place that recognized the Alice Cooper guitar driven, hard rock sound and our crazy stage show. Detroit was a haven for the outcasts. And when they found out I was born in East Detroit… we were home.” 50 years later, Alice and Ezrin have united in Detroit with their Detroit friends to record “Detroit Stories”, Cooper’s new album. If 2019’s “Breadcrumbs” EP laid down the trail to the city, “Detroit Stories” drives like a muscle car right down Woodward Ave. Discover Detroit Stories as they were meant to be told.

“Detroit Stories” will be available on CD, CD+DVD Digipak, CD Box Set (including CD, Blu-ray, T-shirt, face mask, torch light and 3 stickers), and 2LP Gatefold on February 26th 2021 on earMUSIC. And since he won’t be able to tour for a while, Alice asked us to include a DVD and Blu-ray of the incredible last show of the Paranormal tour, (“A Paranormal Evening At The Olympia in Paris”), for the first time available on video. With all concerts being cancelled or postponed, and the world still facing the Covid 19 pandemic at home, Alice Cooper asked us to bring the show to you… until we can celebrate the joy of Rock and Roll together again!

Alice Cooper unveils the first song from the new studio album “DETROIT STORIES” Featuring Steve Hunter, Johnny Bee Paul Randolph, plus Honourary Detroiter Joe Bonamasa on guitar.

In 1971 and a song comes on the radio called “I’m Eighteen” The DJ didn’t announce who performed it, but what does that matter? All that does is the pull of the chords—that cool, ascending guitar line that leads to a slamming riff I can’t get out of my head. Everything about the song is instantly great—the punch of the beat, the crunch of the guitar, the cry of the lead and a voice that screams, with generational resonance, “I’m Eighteen and I LIKE IT!!!”

When the DJ back-announces the artist as Alice Cooper, I think, ‘that’s strange. It didn’t sound like a girl.” Either way, I Have to have that album. So, I find the vinyl, and barely look at the cover before running home to play it. Turns out, every song on the album is as great, if not better than “I’m Eighteen.” But I still don’t know who, or what, Alice is.

Alice was the first guy to daub his face in witchy make-up, his band the first to brazenly dress in women’s clothes. The Alice Cooper Band’s first fistful of albums laid the groundwork for every sleazy gang of gutter level guitar slingers to come along since, from The Sex Pistols to Guns N’ Roses and beyond, and Alice himself has managed to successfully make the leap from underground rock’n’roll freak show to mainstream pop-culture hero, embracing everything from hard-core horror movies to hard-core Christianity along the way.

In a perfect world, everyone would have discovered Alice Cooper this way—First, as a band who play great music; second, as a guy with a girl’s name. Of course, in 1971, when you have a front-man who calls himself Alice, distorts his face with monstrous make-up, dances around with a boa constrictor, and sings about mental patients and dead babies, it’s pretty hard for that not to overwhelm the conversation. And, so it has for the last fifty years. But Alice Cooper was much more than a clever front-person with a killer sense of PR. It was a band of musicians blessed with genuine range and skill. In fact, those “other guys” in the group—lead guitarist Glen Buxton, bassist Dennis Dunaway, drummer Neal Smith and, especially, rhythm guitarist Michael Bruce who wrote nearly all of the songs Alice sang, and played them in a way no other band could. They had a patented style, a tight, coiled take on garage-rock that proved crucial to the later creation of punk. At the same time, they could play, and write, pieces with theatrical flair, referencing everything from Broadway show-tunes to Looney Tunes. More, they had humour. The songs that Bruce, Buxton, Dunaway and Smith wrote translated into sound what Alice created with his lyrics and persona, moving seamlessly between slamming rock ‘n roll and moments of cinematic scope.

In their recordings, all four musicians stood out, not just the star guitarists but the primal drum patterns of Neal Smith and the uncommonly melodic bass lines of Dennis Dunaway. In all, the Alice Cooper band released seven albums, sandwiched between 1969 and 1975, four of which stand with the classics. The two that fall furthest from that mark, their first tries, had their own appeal, if one defined more by daring than focus.

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Pretties For You

In fact, it’s hard to think of a more chaotic debut than Alice Cooper’s 1969 release, ‘Pretties for You” Then again, one reason they got to record it in the first place was their crazy spirit. Frank Zappa discovered the band playing in a club in L.A. in a performance judged by the audience to be so appalling, nearly everyone in the crowd ran for the exits within the first ten minutes. For a life-long contrarian like Zappa, that was a definite plus. Any band extreme enough to horrify so many people, so fast, had to have something going for them. So, he signed them to his label, Bizarre, and, essentially, let them have their way in the studio—so long as they did it fast and cheap. The songs on ‘Pretties’ sounded like the kind the Beatles might have recorded had they dropped ten tabs of acid before they wrote them. They’re full of Fab Four-style harmonies, but skewed by cracked harmonies, perverse time changes and rampaging solos. To achieve those harmonies, Alice used a smoother voice than the one fans later loved. Bruce even got to sing lead on a track. The album offered just one strong melody, “Reflected” and, clearly the band knew it because four years later, they recycled it for their hit “Elected” Much of the rest seemed improvised, which, if nothing else, gave the musicians the chance to show off their chops.

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Easy Action

Their follow-up, ‘Easy Action” issued in 1970, harnessed those skills to some degree by offering shorter songs, though not necessarily more melodically sure ones. The music also found Alice beginning to sing in the snarling style that would become his signature. For a visual record of the band’s sound in this era, check out the classic 1970 film Diary of A Mad Housewife. In it, the band perform at a wild party scene. Oddly, they chose to play a stabbing cover of a song that wasn’t theirs but, instead, belonged to Steppenwolf—”Ride with Me” though, soon enough it devolved into a freak-out jam, echoing the anarchic closing track on ‘Easy Action’ titled “Lay Down and Die, Goodbye”.

This was the first album where they looked like the skinny, drug-damaged, long-haired reptiles we would come to know and love/loathe,

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Love It To Death

Given such excesses, no one could have predicted the ruthless precision that would make their third album, ‘Love It to Death” a hit. Not that the transition happened easily. It took a move to a new city and the wrangling of a visionary producer to pull it off. In 1969, when Alice Cooper got their contract with Bizarre, they were based in a place entirely hostile to them: L.A. In reaction, the group relocated to Cooper’s birthplace, Detroit, a down-and-dirty city far more in tune with their hard rocking sensibility. There, they absorbed the sounds that helped define that town’s rock scene, found in the proto-punk attack of MC5 and the Stooges. Their bracing styles both encouraged, and mirrored, Alice Cooper’s attraction to the most ferocious brand of guitar rock.

The Alice Cooper Band’s first post-garbage psychedelia album remains one of their most iconic, from the spider eyes gatefold and the slithery death-glam band pose on the cover, to the creepy voodoo zombie metal of Black Juju and the harrowing, timeless goth-glam dirge of The Ballad Of Dwight Frye (oh yeah, Alice invented goth, too). The album also put them on the rock’n’roll map with I’m Eighteen (which was a fib even in ’71) and established the snaky, perverse and surprisingly accomplished hard rock sound that would send the band into arenas around the world for the next half-decade. Inarguably classic downer rock, despite a couple of final stabs at hippy-trippy psyche.

The other piece of the puzzle fell into place via their manager Shep Gordon. He tried to correct the band’s excesses by connecting them with as focused a producer as possible: Jack Richardson, who oversaw the catchy hits of the Guess Who. Though Richardson found both the group’s sound and image repugnant, his 19-year-old assistant Bob Ezrin recognized a hidden brilliance. With his tough-love guidance, Alice Cooper wound up shaping music that was, in some ways, the inverse of what they’d recorded before. Everything that had been untamed became tight: What meandered was now honed, while the band’s sense of melody moved from undefined to undeniable. Better, every player found a way to hook the listener. On bass, Dunaway created lines as purposeful as a great axe break; Even the drum patterns pulled you in.

The two songs that surrounded “I’m Eighteen” on the album—“Caught in a Dream and “Long Way to Go” featured some of the hottest guitar parts of early ’70s. Both were written by Bruce, who played his coiled riffs off Buxton’s terse leads, underscored by Ezrin’s rollicking piano. It was, at once, raging rock and perfect pop. In “Is It My Body” Dunaway’s bass provided a rumbling counter-rhythm to the crunching guitar, while “Hallowed Be My Name” penned by Smith, contrasted a sacred organ with Buxton’s profane cries. For “Second Coming” written by Cooper, the band finally found a way to harness their Beatlemania, creating a song John Lennon himself might have penned. Not that they entirely banished their arty side. The nine-minute “Black Juju” written by Dunaway, refigured Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun as a voodoo curse, while, in “Ballad of Dwight Fry” Bruce created the perfect creepy-crawly music to fit a lyrical scenario straight out of Hammer Film Studios”.

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Killer

Together, it made for an instant classic—no easy feat to repeat. Yet, somehow, the band’s 1971 chaser, ‘Killer” not only matched ‘Death’, it exceeded it. Again, the band toggled between mean little rockers and elaborate theatrical pieces. While the singles “Under My Wheels” and “Be My Lover” both relied on standard-issue glitter riffs—the latter even ripping off “Sweet Jane they augmented them with smart twists. “Under My Wheels” opened with a frantic guitar outburst from Buxton that was as exciting as the song’s melody, while Smith followed with drum break of equal distinction.

In “Lover,” penned by Bruce, the band augmented the riff they lifted from Velvet Underground with an original chorus, an irresistible braid of guitars, as well as a campy finale in which Cooper served up his best Mae West impression. Still, the biggest stretch, was the eight-minute “Halo of Flies” which found these garage rockers pulling off a legit prog-rock epic, complete with multiple time signature changes, grand flourishes, and intricate musicianship, all while sounding tight as a drum.

For gut- level shock rock thrills, nothing before or since can match the raw death trip power of Killer. From the enclosed 1972 calendar of Alice twisting gorily from a rope, to the astonishingly bleak doom epic “Halo Of Flies”, to a mind scrambling stab at gallows-black humour called Dead Babies, “Killers” is arguably the first and most vital punk rock album; a still-menacing slice of primo American ugly at the dawn of the feel-bad decade. “Killers” also ends with the jarring, mean-spirited jab of a whining electric drill noise that can throw you into panic if you’re not prepared for it. So maybe Alice invented industrial music too. Somebody ask Throbbing Gristle.

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School’s Out

Improbably, the band upped its ante yet again with their 1972 release ‘School’s Out” A concept album inspired by the angst of teen life, ‘School’s Out’ was both more theatrical and more focused than anything they’d release to that point. It found them interpolating original music with bits of West Side Story, as well as pieces penned by Disney writer Mack David and soundtrack czar Elmer Bernstein. Two years earlier, the band previewed their love of West Side Story by titling their second album ‘Easy Action’. This time, they referenced the musical in “Gutter Cat vs. the Jets ,” penned by Buxton and Dunaway. Their take gave the bass a lead role, buttressed by the glam panache of the guitars, before quoting the classic creations of Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim directly.

In “Street Fight ” Dunaway’s bass offered its own rumble, while, for “Blue Turk” Bruce wrote a swaggering jazz rave-up, elaborated by a swinging trombone solo from guest Wayne Andre. Even some classical influences turned up, in the gorgeous piano piece Ezrin wrote, “My Stars” all culminating in a “Grande Finale that underscored the musical ambition that lay below the band’s swagger.

A sort of drug-addled, dirtbag reworking of West Side Story, School’s Out is a trippy teenage rampage that mood-swings wildly from the grubby hard rock of the timeless bratty title track, to the head-stomping Public Animal #9 (surely the genesis of every self-destructo punk-pose, from Sid Vicious to GG Allin) and the slinky Luney Tune, to the acid-head, high-school-production-gone-wrong Broadway schmaltz that rounds off the album. It’s completely schizophrenic and, frankly, half-baked, yet it retains a sense of timeless killer cool that transcends the gloppy jazz-hands bullshit between the rock’n’roll parts. After all, when you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way.

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Billion Dollar Babies

Remarkably, less than eight months after ‘School’s Out’ charged up to No. 2 on the charts, the band came back with ‘Billion Dollar Babies” which got to No. 1. Another concept album, ‘Babies’ both satirized, and celebrated, our collective taste for outrage—the very qualities that helped make this band stars in the first place. In today’s reality show era, the album’s embrace of base desires seems more relevant than ever. Hit single No More Mister Nice Guy, a relatively straight (by Alice standards) FM rock nugget, propelled “Billion Dollar Babies” into the charts and turned these slimy Detroit cobras into the least likely rock superstars of 1973. They responded to the accolades and attention with an endless tour filled with drugs, booze, blood, snakes, backstage in-fighting, and enough money for a lifetime’s worth of trouble. Meanwhile, the album, while more polished than previous records, spewed up plenty of pop-infused crunchers like “Elected” and the classic “Generation Landslide”, as well as “Sick Things”, one of the most alarmingly weird rock’n’roll songs ever written.

Its single, “Elected”—about a charismatic, but demented, guy who runs for office—seems downright visionary. “Elected” doubled as the most pop-friendly song the band ever recorded, a leap equaled by “No More Mr. Nice Guy” whose bouncy tune was penned by Bruce. For a left curve, the album opened with a cover of a song previously recorded by Judy Collins (“Hello Hooray”) chased by a hip-shaking glam-rocker, “Raped and Freezin’ that, in its last, mad minute, somehow turned into a Latin dance song. The band’s theatrical side returned in a cinematic, six-minute ode to hellish dentistry “Unfinished Sweet” topped by a salute to necrophilia “I Love the Dead” that could have come from the score of a David Lean epic.

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Muscle Of Love

Though clearly the band was riding a creative high, trouble brewed in their ranks. Buxton’s long-term drinking had gotten so out of control, he had to be treated for pancreatitis, rendering him useless for much of the recording. Instead guest Steve Hunter played of the guitar solos, designed to mimic Buxton’s wiry style. The wear and tear on the band became even more apparent on what turned out to be their final album, ‘Muscle of Love”
This time, Buxton didn’t even make a cameo appearance, though management gave him a credit in the liner notes to keep the image of the band intact. In fact, guest Dick Wagner performed his parts. Also, Ezrin wasn’t at the dials, but, instead, Jack Douglas. Worse, the material wasn’t up to snuff. Even so, the band managed to serve up a few gems. The title song had the old metal thunder, while Smith contributed one of the most stirring melodies in the band’s history in “Teenage Lament ’74” A ravishing ballad, the song’s lyrics captured the inner turmoil of a kid who tries to fit in by dolling himself up in glitter garb only to feel shame over the ridiculousness of the look and the conformity it implies. Considering the boost that glam gave the band’s career, it took genuine guts to write a tale like this. Regardless, neither this song, not any other on the album, became a hit, so the group drifted apart, making way for what turned out to be Alice Cooper’s solo career. For his new band, Cooper hired the two guitarists who subbed for Buxton on the original group’s last few albums (Wagner and Hunter).

Meanwhile, the three other functioning members—Bruce, Dunaway and Smith—struggled to rally by rebranding themselves as Billion Dollar Babies, an assemblage that released one album in 1977, titled ‘Battle Axe’. Unfortunately, it lacked the old punch. So did a solo album released by Bruce, titled ‘In My Own Way Any hope for a full reunion of the classic line-up ended in 1997, when Buxton died of pneumonia. More than a decade later, all of the original members were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—an important gesture. It offered as least some acknowledgement that what made Alice Cooper a legend wasn’t the image created by one man but the music made by five.

The last and least of the original band’s incredible 70’s run, this is still a pretty solid album, albeit one that trades in a lot of the spit, fire, and venom of their last few albums for a stab at 70’s AOR radio accessibility. The glammy Teenage Lament ’74 is really the only enduring hit, and if anything, the record is mostly remembered for its bulky cardboard box packaging. Still, if you like FM rock and cheeky odes to masturbation, there’s plenty to like about this one.

Throughout his long and storied career there have been lean times, mean times, times of oddball D-list celebrity status and times when a man just wants to play golf and talk about Jesus. And through it all Alice Cooper has remained one of the most consistently entertaining and iconic figures in rock’n’roll. And that’s why we love him To death.

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The Alice Cooper band knew what it wanted to achieve when it set out to write “School’s Out.” They aimed to create a piece almost dripping with tension and anticipation, and finishing in an explosive release of raw animal energy.

Frontman Cooper later said the song – which gave the band’s 1972 fifth album its title  was his answer to the question, “What’s the greatest three minutes of your life?” “There’s two times during the year,” he said. “One is Christmas morning, when you’re just getting ready to open the presents. The greed factor is right there. The next one is the last three minutes of the last day of school. … You’re sitting there, and it’s like a slow fuse burning. I said, ‘If we can catch that three minutes in a song, it’s going to be so big.

The shock-rock icon remembered the phrase “school’s out” from the Bowery Boys movies from the ’40s and ’50s. In the films, a group of streetwise New York kids would use the words when one of them did something stupid, suggesting it was time to demonstrate more smarts. Cooper decided to focus on the more literal meaning, including the street rhyme “no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks,” but tied the Bowery Boys’ meaning in with the line “School’s out forever” – meaning “time to grow up” – and “school’s blown to pieces,” meaning “no going back.”

The imagery also hooked in the age-old theme of young people’s desire to rebel against older folks, while the parents remained in a perpetual state of suspicion over what the kids may be up to in the shadows, and the kids perfectly happy with the setup, because old people could never remember or understand being that young.

Producer Bob Ezrin maximized that message by having children sing along during the chorus’ “no more pencils” section and cheering with unbridled excitement at the end of the song, when the school bell rings and the pent-up energy is finally released.

In 2017, Ezrin recalled telling the band, “That’s so kid-like. We should have little kids singing on it.’” Saying he secured “a bunch of stage brats” from Central Casting, he remembered “into the Record Plant comes five sets of prima donna brat kids with their stage parents, and I have to explain to the parents why it’s okay for this group of kids to sing with this group of completely twisted individuals. They walked into the hallway, saw this group and they were ready to turn around, get back in their taxis and go home! The kids were scared to death, but I got them all to relax, and we all had a really good time. By the end of it, the kids were all giggling and laughing, and they loved Alice. It ended up being very effective, and I think one of the best moments in rock history is when those kids sing on that record.”

Cooper recalled listening back to what the producer had done and thinking, “If that’s not a hit, I need to be selling shoes somewhere.”

Back in 1972, Cooper’s bandmates provided the perfect musical backdrop to the ticking-time-bomb motif of “School’s Out.” It was all based on lead guitarist Glenn Buxton’s playful riff, which also carried a concealed blade. (“Out of that one guitar riff we crafted an entire song in the rehearsal studio,” Ezrin said in 2014.) Bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith provided a staccato knife-edge rhythm, complete with an overhanging beat at the end of each phrase that allowed no relief from the tension. Buxton supported the raspy, aggressive lead vocals, alternatively lashing out as if smashing bottles in an alley and then gripping a single tone like the collar of a rival gang member who’s about to pay his debt.

Both Cooper and Dunaway later said Buxton’s guitar work summed up his own character. “He was this street punk,” the frontman said in 2015. “The guitar … had a very bratty sound to it. And that’s what I figured Alice should be. The brat who stands up and says, ‘School’s out!’” Dunaway added that the notes carried a “kid-in-the-back-of-the-class feel. … That was him. That was his personality. It set the feel of the song.”

“School’s Out” was released in April 1972 and spent 14 weeks on the chart, peaking at No.7 when school really was out for the summer. It remains the highest-charting single for both the band and Cooper as a solo artist.

The song has become a mainstay in popular culture, having appeared in movies including Scream, Dazed and Confused and Rock ’n’ Roll High School, and TV shows like The Simpsons, Glee, American Idol and The Muppet Show. It’s also been used in TV commercials, and would have been part of 1992’s landmark Wayne’s World movie too, but Cooper’s manager, Shep Gordon, insisted on using the new track “Feed My Frankenstein” instead.

In 2015, Cooper reflected that one of the best choices he made in writing the song was to make sure the lyrics weren’t too specific, so that everyone who heard it could feel as it if was about his or her own school. “I think even the parents that didn’t like Alice Cooper kind of went, ‘Jeez, when I was in school, that would’ve been my favourite song too,’” he said. “It’s just such a universal statement.

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The Hollywood Vampires — the supergroup of Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry performed their cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” on The Late Late Show With James Corden on Tuesday. evening

Depp fronted the epic slow-burner with expert care and attention, starting his vocals at a rumble and building, with each verse, to a belt. Meanwhile, Perry and Cooper crafted the song’s searing guitar parts, later providing back-up harmonies for Depp and eventually joining him at the microphone to sing the final refrain, “We can be heroes, we can be heroes.”

Hollywood Vampires’ cover of “Heroes” appears on the band’s new album “Rise”, which was released in June. The 16-track record was produced by Tommy Henriksen and mainly comprises original tunes, though there are also covers off the Jim Carroll Band’s “People Who Died” and Johnny Thunder’s “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.”

Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and their band Hollywood Vampires perform David Bowie’s classic song ‘Heroes’ for the Stage 56 audience.

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Long before the epic anthems, platinum albums and sold-out concert tours — before the boas, guillotines and outrageous urban legends, Alice Cooper merely was a peculiar unknown band, peddling a peculiar debut record. That LP was released 50 years ago this week on Frank Zappa’s Straight Records label. American rock band Alice Cooper, released on June 25th, 1969 . At this time, the name “Alice Cooper” referred to the band and not its lead singer Vincent Furnier, although he was also known as Alice Cooper. The album has a psychedelic flavour to it; the group had yet to develop the more concise hard rock sound that they would become famous for. Most of the tracks feature unusual time signatures and arrangements, jarring syncopation, expressive dynamics, sound effects, and an eclectic range of music influences. A few songs, such as “Levity Ball”, show the influence of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, with whom the band hung out during the British group’s U.S. tour. Alice Cooper guitarist Glen Buxton stated he could listen to Barrett’s guitar playing for hours on end.

Formed during the mid-‘60s in Phoenix, Arizonathe Spiders later would change their name to Nazz. By 1968, the struggling combo now known as Alice Cooper, was residing in southern California, fighting for survival on the L.A. club scene, developing a reputation for being a “weird” band — a distinction that soon got them noticed by Zappa, as well as by their legendary manager, Shep Gordon.

From a distance, Alice Cooper’s musically meandering, psychedelic-sounding debut bared little resemblance to the rock-ribbed arena style that would define the band’s iconic latter work. However, upon examining the record’s 13 “tea leaves” a bit closer, the future could certainly be seen.

Despite the listed production team — Ian UnderwoodHerb Cohen and Frank Zappa, manager Shep Gordon has stated that “Pretties for You” actually had no producer — and it shows. Gordon maintains further that the album merely was a hodgepodge of incomplete compositions recorded during the band’s in-studio rehearsal.

A commercial failure, Pretties for You barely grazed the bottom rung of the Billboard Top 200 — reaching only a disappointing #193. Additionally, none of the tracks ever have been performed by the band in concert since the release of their 1971 breakout album, Love It to Death.

The record opens with “Titanic Overture” a haunting, orchestrated, minute-long snippet that sinks abruptly and basically leads nowhere. Another brief interlude, “10 Minutes Before the Worm” is clunky and trippy. Possessing no real structure to speak of, it does provide a brief splash of melody, just before falling apart randomly. The coolest thing about “10 Minutes” is that it offers the first glimpse of the gloriously skitzo signature style of drummer Neal Smith — the musical force who would arguably deserve the MVP award on subsequent Cooper records.

Pretties for You soon erupts into a splendid dysfunctional fiesta in which several of the tracks often sound like songs. A stylistic collision between The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Idlewild South, “Swing Low, Sweet Cheerio” is an authentic, harmonica-driven classic rock stand-out. Other noteworthy numbers include the occasionally melodic, lo-fi live track “Levity Ball” and “Apple Bush” — a near-radio-friendly tune nailed to the floor by bassist Dennis Dunaway and accented by lead vocalist Alice Cooper’s legit harmonica work. While less than hooky, “Fields of Regret” bursts with ear-splitting urgency, courtesy of guitarists Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce. Combined with Cooper’s oft eerie vocal, “Fields” lights a path showing where the band would travel musically in the not so distant future.

Of the record’s super-highlights, “Living” is an irresistibly buzzy delight, while the lead-off single, “Reflected” serves an adequate demo for what would become, “Elected,” the monster Top 40 hit from the band’s 1973 album, Billion Dollar Babies. And although it certainly is catchy, “Changing Arranging” woulda, coulda, shoulda delivered even more, had celebrated producer Bob Ezrin arrived on the A.C. scene two records earlier.

The artwork for this album is a painting by Edward Beardsley. It was originally hanging on the wall of the living room in Frank Zappa’s house, and his wife Gail Zappa stated that it was later stolen from them.

In sum, Pretties for You is as “weird” now as when it first was released, half a century ago. And while it may not be the preferred “go-to” record that most Cooper fans pop in the deck, but it remains a much-loved and well-respected work among the band’s most fervent followers.

“Pretties for You” Track Listing:

Side One
01. Titanic Overture (1:12)
02. 10 Minutes Before the Worm (1:39)
03. Swing Low, Sweet Cheerio (5:42)
04. Today Mueller (1:48)
05. Living (3:12)
06. Fields of Regret (5:44)

Side Two
01. No Longer Umpire (2:02)
02. Levity Ball (4:39)
03. B.B. on Mars (1:17)
04. Reflected (3:17)
05. Apple Bush (3:08)
06. Earwigs to Eternity (1:19)
07. Changing Arranging (3:03)

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The Hollywood Vampires return with their explosive second album, “Rise”. Rock and roll royalty Joe Perry, Hollywood superstar Johnny Depp and shock rock icon Alice Cooper join forces once again for the unmissable rock album of 2019. Seconds into the opening track ‘I Want My Now,’ it’s clear this supergroup has created something special – the chemistry between the individuals is unmistakable when they come together on stage or in the recording studio. Forget the star-studded lineup’s individual reputations, Rise is some of the purest, unapologetic and most enjoyable rock and roll of the year, made by masters of the craft and true fans of the form.

when Hollywood Vampires first hit the scene with their 2015 self-titled debut album, expectations were understandably high. Sadly, the majority of what was delivered was a glorified covers album from Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, the godfather of shock rock, Alice Cooper, and Hollywood royalty, Johnny Depp. Don’t get me wrong, the album was great and a tribute to rock legends lost over the years, but there was a desire to hear some original tunes from some of the most talented men to take to the stage.

Rise actually demonstrates the talents on offer. Opening with “I Want My Now,” over seven minutes of extravagant guitar riffs and Cooper’s instantly recognizable rasping vocals, it would be a Guitar Hero player’s wet dream to nail this tune on expert level! You would be forgiven for comparing the opening of “Who’s Laughing Now” to industrial metal bands such as Nine Inch Nails or even Rammstein, but that feeling is short lived as the tune descends into a dark, yet riff-tastic cut with Cooper’s vocals being complimented by his bandmates.

In the spirit of the Vampires’ original mission, three covers of songs originally written and recorded by some fellow rockers who died far too young: an intimate and intense version of David Bowie’s “Heroes”, beautifully performed by Johnny Depp; the late Jim Carroll Band’s “People Who Died,” and Johnny Thunder’s “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory,” sung by Joe Perry. Raucous rock anthems like “The Boogieman Surprise” and “Who’s Laughing Now” (the first single from the new album), capture the natural, raw, celebratory attitude of Hollywood Vampires displayed in their rowdy shows around the world. But the album shows off their range as well with tracks like “We Gotta Rise” – a tongue-in-cheek politics song in the the tradition of Alice’s “Elected” – to the psychedelic gothic epic of “Mr. Spider.” “‘Rise’ is not only a totally different animal than the first Vampires album, it is unique to anything I’ve ever been a part of. I approached it very differently than I usually do when working on an album. Each of us; Joe, Johnny, Tommy and myself have written songs on this album. What is different though is that I didn’t try to change any songs to be more “Alice-like.” Because each of us has different influences, the sound of this album is very cool. I think that with this album, we are establishing what the Vampires’ sound really is, whereas with the first album we were more tipping our hats to our fallen rock n roll brothers.” – Alice Cooper

Where Rise really shines is when the players, especially Cooper, steps out of their comfort zone for the bluegrass-inspired “Welcome to Bushwackers” (featuring Jeff Beck and John Waters). This is such a fun song that is also very unexpected. In order to give an analogy, imagine The Blues Brothers playing to beer-guzzling rednecks but having to adjust their set to avoid an ass-kicking. Now imagine the Blues Brothers are Hollywood Vampires! Now, that would be a show worth seeing. “Mr. Spider” further demonstrates the variety of styles showcased on Rise. It is a psychogenic acid trip through the dark and twisted sub-conscious of Cooper, Perry, and Depp, a terrifying, yet enticing rabbit hole to journey down.

The tone then shifts dramatically to a politically-driven, punk rock sing along with “We Gotta Rise.” Much like “Welcome to Bushwackers” it is an unexpected change of pace to what you would expect from these three musicians. It is this that makes Rise really shine: the unexpected! This album is bold, adventurous, unafraid and unapologetic. It is a credit to Cooper, Perry, and Depp as they are sure to be aware that their fans would be looking to hear a mishmash of Aerosmith and Alice Cooper, which, of course, they have delivered, but alongside that they have produced tunes that essentially gives the middle finger to what you, I and the world expects them to deliver. In conclusion, these vampires do not suck at all!. Also featured on Rise is a cover of the iconic David Bowie song “Heroes.” Check out this live video of Hollywood Vampires performing last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

“Rise”  2019 Edel Germany GmbH. earMUSIC is a project of Edel. Released on: 2019-06-21

‘Love It to Death,’ released eight months earlier, pushed the Alice Cooper band into the big leagues. But their follow-up LP is their most focused. It also contained some of the group’s best songs, including “Under My Wheels” and “Be My Lover.” They were closing in on their first Top 10 album. ‘Killer’ got them there.

The ALICE COOPER group had been working toward the mainstream breakthrough they enjoyed with “I’m Eighteen,” the hit single that drove the success of their third album ‘Love It to Death’, through some pretty lean years. Now they’d finally tasted success, a Top 40 album & single, better gigs, a little more beer money. “A lot of people have hit albums,” Cooper says. The trick is what you do with that momentum on the follow-through. “Can you hit it out of the park with that one?” The answer a resounding yes arrived a little less than 9 months later, on November 27th, 1971. ‘Killer’ more than lived up to the promise of their previous release.

An artful 8-song master class in commanding the spotlight, it offset the full-throttle rock ‘n’ roll swagger of tracks as contagious as “Under My Wheels” with darker, more experimental touches & an epic progressive rock suite designed to prove that they could play their instruments much better than some tin-eared critics had suggested “Under My Wheels” was released in advance on the album. The second single, “Be My Lover” features the iconic line, “She asked why the singer’s name was Alice/ I said, ‘Listen baby, you really wouldn’t understand.'”. If the singles didn’t chart as high as “I’m Eighteen”, that hardly seemed to matter. ‘Killer’ peaked in the USA chart #21 a new career high for the singer & the band that shared his name…

Four versions of the Alice Cooper "Killer" album art. Clockwise from upper left: Columbia House edition, standard U.S. issue, German issue and Mexican issue.

“Halo of Flies” was really a kind of pivotal moment for us. Cooper: A reviewer said, “Well, they’re really good at these three-minute, four-minute singles, but that’s about all they can do.” We kind of looked at that and went, “Oh, you don’t think we can do prog?” So we wrote “Halo of Flies.” Just to prove that we could.

Rolling Stone critic Lester Bangs praised the absurd and outrageous collages of idiomatic borrowings combined with a distinctly teen-age sense of the morbid.” ‘Killer,’ for some reason, was the critics favourite Cooper says. By 1967, when Smith joined, completing the lineup a year before one final name change set the stage for Alice Cooper to release a debut called “Pretties for You” on Frank Zappa’s Straight Records. People listened to “Love it to Death” and they said, “Oh, my gosh, Alice Cooper’s got a sound now.” “Killer” took the sound to the next step. Like it should. Every band should get better and better and better. 

We had used all the material, all the stuff that had been in the demos they’d been stockpiling. It was invent fast, finish fast and get it out fast. We were on a roll and we wanted to keep the roll going.

“You Drive Me Nervous” had been kicking around a while. We couldn’t get the right groove. So we would shelve it, producer Bob Erzin finally said, “I was standing outside the rehearsal room listening, and I know what it is. All of a sudden, it took off.

1 T-Rex, Hot Love February 1971

Marc Bolan’s third huge hit in a row, No 1 for four weeks. His Top of the Pops performance showed him going truly imperial, with flying-V guitar, pink trousers, silver jacket and, prompted by his friend and colleague Chelita Secunda, glitter on his cheekbones.

2 David Bowie, Queen Bitch December 1971

“There should be some real unabashed prostitution in this business,” Bowie told Cream magazine in late 1971. He did his best to make it happen with this Velvet Underground tribute, saturated in homosexuality and Manhattan sleaze. Mick Ronson’s guitar slices through everything.

3 Alice Cooper, School’s Out April 1972

From Detroit by way of LA, these hard rockers had been wearing makeup and frocks since 1969, so were well-suited to the glam imperative. School’s Out was a definitive entrant in the teenage rampage stakes and scored hard with the kids, hitting No 1 for three weeks in the summer holidays.

4 Roxy Music, Virginia Plain August 1972

With Bryan Ferry’s ultra-stylised performance and Eno’s other wordly synth shrieks, this one definitely arrived from Planet Mars in the late summer of 1972. Chock-full of pop art and pop culture references, Virginia Plain was nothing less than a manifesto for a new age: “So me and you, just we two, got to search for something new.”

5 Mott The Hoople, All the Young Dudes July 1972

Bowie may have provided the raw material, but Mott gave the definitive performance of this generation-defining song, with its sneering reference to the Beatles and the Stones. The musicians curled and uncurled around Ian Hunter’s snarling voice: “Oh is there concrete all around/ Or is it in my head.”

6 Lou Reed, Vicious November 1972

Another Bowie production, and another career revival. Vicious begins Reed’s second solo album in exactly the way that you would wish, with the poet laureate of Manhattan spitting out the Warhol inspired lyrics – “Vicious: you hit me with a flower” – while Mick Ronson, cutting through everything, embodies the song’s threat.

7 David Bowie, The Jean Genie November 1972

Bowie reached back to his 60s R&B days with this one, based on the old I’m a Man riff but updated with Ronson’s buzzing guitar, burlesque rhythms, gay double entendres – his by-now patented patch. The band did a fantastic Top of the Pops performance, recently rediscovered.

8 Slade, Cum On Feel the Noize February 1973

This was their fourth No 1 in 18 months, which gave guitarist Dave Hill an excuse – as if he needed it – to wear ever more outrageous outfits on Top of the Pops. An anthemic chorus and a lyric that’s a direct invitation “to get wild, wild, wild”.

9 Roxy Music, Editions of You March 1973

“For Your Pleasure” – with model and singer Amanda Lear on the cover – is one of the period’s few coherent albums, and this 120mph rocker is one of its hidden pleasures: a camp-saturated male bonding song, featuring ooohs, sirens, and the immortal line, “boys will be boys will be boyoyoys”.

10 Bonnie St Claire, Clap Your Hands and Stamp Your Feet May 1973

With its stomping tunes and rock’n’roll roots, glam was huge on the continent – blending, as it would, into Europop – and this is a great entrant from Holland, featuring Beach-Boys’ style backing vocals, terrace handclaps, and of course the ever-present Chuck Berry riffs.

11 T-Rex, 20th Century Boy May 1973

It could have been any of the four top-two hits that T-Rex had in 1972 – particularly Metal Guru – but this was the toughest of them all: a furious rocker with a heroic riff that showed, plain for all to see, just how well Bolan understood the nature of pop fame – 20th century toy, I wanna be your boy.

12 Iggy and the Stooges, Search and Destroy June 1973

Iggy wore silver, the Stooges were produced by David Bowie, the record sounded glam – all treble tones and slicing guitar – but Search and Destroy, like its parent album Raw Power, went much further and deeper than hardly anyone wished in 1973. Three years later, it would find its time.

13 New York Dolls, Trash July 1973

Simultaneously ludicrous and tough, sloppy and hard, vicious and tender – just listen to those soaring, girl-group harmonies – Trash was, along with Jet Boy, the Dolls‘ big pop move. It being 1973, of course, there could only have been one question: “Uh, how do you call your lover boy?” In the US, they didn’t answer.

14 The Sweet, The Ballroom Blitz September 1973

The Sweet were on a roll after Blockbuster and this may well be the archetypal glam song: teenage hysteria – check; camp interjections and beyond over the top TV costumes – check; a stomping beat, tough guitar riffs and a fey vocal – check. Unstoppable and still thrilling: the contrived becomes real.

15 Mud, Dyna-Mite October 1973

Written by the Sweet svengalis, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, “Dyna-Mite” stays firmly within the ballroom – glam’s central location – during this relentless stomper. Mud yocked it up on Top of the Pops with ludicrous flares and a spot of aceing – the biker’s dance, shoulder to shoulder – and the future Sex Pistols were listening.

16 Suzi Quatro, Devil Gate Drive January 1974

Quatro had gold-plated garage credentials – her first band, the Pleasure Seekers, had recorded What a Way to Die in 1966 – and this, her fourth hit (No 1 for two weeks), mixes rock’n’roll with a hint of the Burundi beat, while continuing the explosive club/ballroom theme of the time with a hint of autobiography.

17 Sparks, This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us April 1974

Sparks were the late great glam flash: tricky, artificial, super-hooky and high-concept, with a hard rocking band and definitive high gloss sleeves. They took a song with the lyric “you hear the thunder of stampeding rhinos, elephants and tacky tigers” all the way to No 2, and made it seem natural.

18 David Bowie, Rebel Rebel US version May 1974

Bowie’s goodbye to the youth movement he had helped to form – “You’ve got your mother in a whirl, because she’s not sure whether you’re a boy or a girl” – and his last top 10 hit for 18 months. This US mix has dreamy backwards harmonies, extra percussion and phased guitar.

19 Iron, Virgin Rebels Rule June 1974

Almost all the great glam records were hits, but this is one of the best that wasn’t: an abrasive slice of Sweetarama from a Scottish band, who toughened up the teenage-rampage meme while wearing Clockwork Orange-inspired costumes. The singer had a padlock on his crotch with the legend: “No Entry.”

20 Sweet, The Sixteens July 1974

A four-minute mini-opera on the theme of failed youth revolution, and a summer top-10 hit, this shows the renamed group – having lost the definite article – rising to the song’s complex structure with a totally convincing performance. The Sixteens is a classic of teen disillusionment, at the point of glam’s supersession.