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Old 06-17-2006, 02:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
Urban Hat€monger ?
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About time I did some more work here .......



EASY ACTION (1970)
(STRAIGHT RECORDS)


1. Mr. and Misdemeanor
2. Shoe Salesman
3. Still No Air
4. Below Your Means
5. Return of the Spiders
6. Laughing at Me
7. Refrigerator Heaven
8. Beautiful Flyaway
9. Lay Down and Die, Goodbye

History: After the release of Pretties For You unsurprisingly the record buying public at large avoid it like the plague. Undeterred the band continue with their unique outrageous stage show winning many celebrity fans along the way. The culmination of this is reached on September 13th 1969 when the band are asked to play the Toronto Rock n Roll Revival festival alongside John Lennon & The Doors. The then unknown Alice Cooper band take the stage and shock the hell out of the predominantly hippy crowd. During the show a chicken is thrown onstage. Alice , figuring a chicken has wings so it can fly, hurls the chicken back into the audience where it plummets to the ground & is torn to pieces by the crowd. The following day the press report worldwide that Alice Cooper is this weird band who sacrifice chickens live on stage, Even the Who`s Pete Townsend is reported to have been so disgusted he vowed never to have anything to do with Alice Cooper,something he continued to do so up till very recently. An urban legend is born.On the back of this infamy the band return to the studio to record their second album for Frank Zappas Straight label alongside Neil Young producer David Briggs.What resulted is one of the most ambitious & diverse albums the band ever recorded.

Review:Straight from the opening bars of 'Mr. and Misdemeanor' you can tell that this album is a whole different kettle of fish to the debut of the previous year. It`s almost as if the band learned how to actually be a band in the time between Pretties For You and this album. The song itself is a piano led rock song with it`s very Ray Mansarek like sound.In fact there`s a very obvious Doors influence on this album as a whole.The band very much toughened up their sound for this album , probably due to the influence of the Doors , plus Alice himself taking influence from bands like MC5 & The Stooges in his hometown of Detroit.This song is also probably the beginning of the trademark Alice Cooper sneer in his vocals.
'Shoe Salesman' is one of my favourite Alice Cooper songs period , an uptempo almost 'indie pop' style song that almost threatens to become a folk song. In fact you could play this song to anyone and I doubt they would realise it is actually an Alice Cooper song.It`s more the sort of thing you`d expect Belle & Sebastian to come out with.A gentle song with harsh cutting lyrics about ordinary life.
'Still No Air' to me sounds much like a leftover from the first album in that it sounds like 4 songs mixed into one with hundreds of weird time changes , in fact halfway through the song Alice starts quoting West Side Story (This would be followed up in more detail on the Schools Out album).It`s a definate aquired taste but it`s better that a lot of stuff on the first album due to the fact the band sound much tighter.
'Below Your Means' is an odd 7 minute epic of a song. Odd in that it sounds a lot like the classic Alice Cooper that everybody knows & loves , and yet it still has the sound of the first album with time changes galore.But this time it`s much more toned down and you can really see the beginning of the twisted pop songs that the band became famous for. Hell the song almost sounds structured in some naive way.It`s with songs like this you can really see the progression of the band and the ambition in them.Although it does take about a minute too long to finish.The old excesses still have not been totally wiped out.
'Return Of The Spiders' is basically a song built around Neil Smith hammering the **** out of his drum kit at breakneck speed , added to that with the howling guitars it sounds like some sort of demented express train. This is what Kraftwerk`s Trans Europe Express would have sounded like performed by some garage band turning their amps up full blast and just letting loose. Dedicated to Gene Vincent this is an out & out rocker thats really the first time the band had attempted such a thing.There`s no psychadelia , Beatles re-treads or anything of the sort on this song , it`s just full on beginning to end.I would have LOVED to see this song played live.
'Laughing At Me' is your typical 60s/70s guitar pop song , the kind of thing you`d expect Big Star to come out with. It`s obviously album filler but it`s short , sweet & innoffensive song stuff with melody and Alice actually bothering trying to sing.
'Refrigerator Heaven' is a short daft little song about being frozen until a cure for cancer is found. But it hints at what is to come from the band.It`s 2 minutes of stripped down Rock n Roll without loads of pissing around or adding loads of unnessasary noises , extra instruments or random time changes.It`s like the band have discovered confidence in their songwriting and don`t have to hide behind a load of experimentation.Finally we`re getting to see the Alice Cooper band for what they were remembered as.
As if to prove that point we have two radically different songs to close the album , almost as if the band are saying 'here`s two more songs that you won`t hear us do anything like again so enjoy them while they last' 'Beautiful Flyaway' is a piano led uptempo ballad with lots of vocal harmonies, not anything like what you`d expect from Alice Cooper.In fact it`s just the sort of song you could imagine being on Queens 'Night At The Opera' album if it had been sung by Freddie Mercury.
The final song on the album is the total mindf*ck that is 'Lay Down & Die, Goodbye'. This 7 minute 30 second 'epic' (cough) starts off with Alice stating 'You are the only censor, if you don't like what I say you have a choice you can turn me off ' sounding like he is shouting it from the bottom of a swimming pool. We then get about a minute of avant garde jazz rock fusion. At 1 minute 20 we get 25 seconds of the main riff to the Osmonds 'Crazy Horses'(Which hadn`t been written yet). The closing 5 minutes of the song we get guitar fuzz , distortion , weird noises and Alice chanting over the top of it with a really echoey voice. So basically Alice Cooper invented the Mogwai sound 25 years before they did.The album closes with a minute or two of something that sounded like it could have come off the first album as if to show us just how far they`ve come.

Verdict: Easy Action is known as the lost Alice Cooper classic & it`s not difficult to see why. This album deserves a far wider audience and would be the first album I would recommend to anyone who is convinced Alice Cooper is nothing more than a classic rock has been. This album has experimentation just as the first album did but the main difference with this one is they pull it off successfully and not only do they actually bother to write some songs they write some damn good ones.
One of the things I regret the most about this album is I would love to have seen what would have come next had they not gone to Warner Brothers and without the help of producer Bob Ezrin turning them into the mainsteam stadium/classic rock band that they became known for. I would have loved to have seen them carry on in this direction for a couple more albums , but it was not to be.And to be fair what they did become later on was pretty special too. It does suffer sometimes of falling into the same trap as the first album but only in isolated cases hence the 1.5 being taken off it`s final total.
One of my favourite Alice Cooper albums, this one would get easily into my top 5 Alice albums, and well deserved it is too.
8.5/10
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