Posts Tagged ‘Killer’

‘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.