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Old 04-22-2006, 04:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
Urban Hat€monger ?
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Default The Alice Cooper Marathon

Right then I thought i`d do something to christen this forum seeing as I was one of the ones who suggested the damn thing in the first place.

So I thought what better way than to work my way through a marathon of all 20 odd Alice Cooper studio albums and review them.Off we go then......


1. Titanic Overture
2. Ten Minutes Before the Worm
3. Swing Low, Sweet Cheerio
4. Today Mueller
5. Living
6. Fields of Regret
7. No Longer Umpire
8. Levity Ball
9. B.B. On Mars
10. Reflected
11. Apple Bush
12. Earwigs to Eternity
13. Changing Arranging

History: Five friends from high school get together and form The Earwigs , a parody of the Beatles.They wear mop top wigs and pay girls to scream at them.After a while they decide there`s somthing in this & start to write their own material.After changing their name to The Nazz they record two singles , one of which 'Don`t Blow My Mind' does OK in their native Phoenix , but little elsewhere.
The band settle of a line up featuring Vincent Furnier , Glen Buxton , Neil Smith , Dennis Dunaway & Michael Bruce and relocate to L.A. where they also change their name to Alice Cooper.There are many stories about how the name came about including it being the name of a witch who was burned at the stake who communicated to the band during a seance.The real truth is they pictured a sweet innocent little girl with a knife behind her back , also they wanted a wholesome American name , making people expect a blonde folk singer to show up if they went to an Alice Cooper concert.During their time in L.A. they became notorious for being the worst band in L.A. At a tribute gig to Lenny Bruce the band cleared the building of the 2000 people who attended.The only two people left were Shep Gordon (Who became their manager) and Miss Christine of the GTOs who introduced them to Frank Zappa.The band were invited to Zappa`s house to audition for a place on his new 'Straight' record label.The band turn up at 7am (Instead of 7pm) and play to Zappa in his underpants & dressing gown. He signs them immidietly and shortly after the band go to the studio to record their first album.

Review: This is one of the strangest albums I have ever heard. At the time of it`s recording the band were sharing a house with members of Pink Floyd and they were really taken with Barrett & co`s sound. So much so that along with the Beatles there is an obvious Pink Floyd influence at work here.The sound of the album is very amateurish garage rock with traces of psychadelia and the rock that they would come to be known for.The Alice Cooper sound is there , but it`s so fractured you really have to listen out for it. It is one of the most unpolished records I have ever heard , the production is raw and the songs (If you can call them that) are extremely directionless full of random time changes , random lyrics ..... basically it sounds like they made up the whole thing up on the spot.
The album opens with Titanic Overture a short simple eerie instrumental peice on an organ part fairground part horror B movie. This goes straight into Ten Minutes Before the Worm which starts off with about a minute of weird bird noises (i`m not making this up.... honest).After that the band start the song proper which can only be described as a really odd Beatles number played by a band who have only just learned to play their instruments.After playing that for a while it`s almost if the band gets bored & then speeds it up , slows it down , stops altogether and then just start hitting random notes with the odd drum fill for good measure , we even get a few seconds of funk guitar.And the song is only 1.36 minutes long in total.
This sets the tone of the album, the next song Swing Low, Sweet Cheerio starts off really nicely with a gentle acoustic guitar & slow bassline , and for the first couple of minutes it`s a really nice song. Listening to it you can hear the Pink Floyd influence I spoke of earlier.In fact this song reminds me very much like Lucifer Sam off Floyd`s Piper At The Gates Of Dawn album.But like almost all of this album each song sounds like 3 or 4 songs forced into one, so after a couple of minutes we get Alice giving us a harmonica solo that doesn`t fit in with the song whatsoever, then we get 3 minutes of the usual time changes , random riffs & fake endings. This song is 5 and a half minutes long but it feels like twice that because there`s so much going on.
Today Mueller the next song sums up exactly what`s annoying about this album. it just stops , starts , stops , starts over & over with Alice singing bits in a ridiculously high voice then just sort of stops rather than ends.Again it just sounds like a really bad Beatles song played by a bunch of idiots taking the piss out of it. The fifth song Living ...... Wow , we actually get a properly constructed song. It sounds like a slightly heavier Byrds , a good slice of late 60s American rock.Hell they even keep the song at the same tempo the whole way through. The only thing that really lets the song down is the really awful guitar solo , in fact it`s almost funny how Glen Buxton just sort of stops bothering with it & starts playing the main riff again. The song even ends properly with a fade out.
When you hear the opening bars of Fields Of Regret you instantly recognise there`s something promising in it.This song actually sounds like the Alice Cooper that everybody is familier with. It`s a uptempo heavy rock song , the kind the band would perfect with later albums , however it`s only the Alice Cooper sound in embryonic form and there is still a lot of work to do. The main problem with it is halfway through the song it breaks down into 2 minutes of Sonic Youth style guitar noodling. And again once the song kicks in again there is really bad amateurish guitar solo that thankfully is replaced quickly by another harmonica solo by Alice. No Longer Umpire is just more of the same really , more weird noises , more random time changes that plague this whole album , by this point i`ve had enough & skip it after a couple of minutes.
Levity Ball is probably the most known song on the album , due to the fact that footage from it being sung have appeared on countless documentarys about Alice showing them in the early days , probably because he`s wearing a green & gold dress while he sings it (He wears this on the back cover of the album too). Again there are obvious Pink Floyd comparisons. The song is very much of it`s time , you`re typical hippy dippy light flower power anthem.But it`s still not enough to save it from the random stuff that the band seem to stick in every song just for the hell of it.Also for some reason it`s a live recording and just at a quite bit during the song we hear an obviously overdubbed crash of drums & guitars. Why? I have no idea. Also the sound quality is awful. I`ve heard the original studio recording on the 'Life & Crimes' box set and why they didn`t use it for this album remains a total mystery to me.
BB On Mars is basically just a good riff with a load of other stuff tacked onto it to make it the length of a song , although not that long it`s only a minute & a half long at best. Next up is the most interesting song on the album , Reflected. Interesting because this song was rewritten by the band later on & became Elected. It`s in a really early form of course but it is recognisable in delivery of the lyrics & the main riff.Still not very good though , it still suffers from the band sounding very amateurish. Apple Bush is an oddity as it`s practically a folk song & sticks out like a sore thumb.It doesn`t fit the album whatsoever and it makes you wonder why they included it , but then again the whole album doesn`t fit anything so why not throw it in. Shame really because they did have other songs much better than this at the time they could have used. Earwigs to Eternity is more of the same erratic tempos , high pitched lyrics & stop start endings , finally the album comes to a close with Changing Arranging. It`s good that this song closes the album because it`s one of the better songs on the album & they take the basis of this song for their next album 'Easy Action'.It`s very much like a song by The Doors who would become a bigger influence on their 2nd album.

Verdict: The first time I heard this album about 12 years ago I loathed it & didn`t listen to it for about 5 years. However listening to it now I can see it`s full of ideas & you can really see the bands influences and where they came from.Sadly though most of the songs are totally unlistenable unless you like really challenging music.A couple of songs do hit the mark but only if you`re really generous & a fan of Alice Cooper in the first place. Interesting but basically flawed.

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