The Wicked Work of Alice Cooper: An Album By Album Guide- Part 1 (1969-81)

Aaron ConnMiscellaneous, Music2 Comments

Alice Cooper

Alice CooperIt might be hard to believe but Alice Cooper has been in the music business for nearly 50 years. In that time, Alice has amazed and dazzled audiences with his hard rockin’ tunes and wonderfully theatrical concerts. While many consider Alice to be the godfather of shock rock, some might be surprised that the man has a surprisingly diverse discography. By the end of July 2017, Alice will release Paranormal– his 27th studio album.

This article will be split into two parts, giving an overview of Alice’s main 26 studio albums. For this part, I will cover the albums Alice released from 1969 to 1981.

The Original Alice Cooper Band
For the first seven albums, Alice Cooper was the name of a band. From 1969 to 1974, the Alice Cooper band consisted of…

Alice Cooper- lead vocals
Michael Bruce- guitar
Glen Buxton- guitar
Dennis Dunaway- bass
Neal Smith- drums
Pretties For YouPretties For You (1969)
Compared to the albums that would come after it, Pretties for You is a very strange album. It’s not at all like the shock rock that Alice would later become famous for, with this album leaning more towards the experimental side. Still, I don’t think this is a bad album as there are a few decent songs on here. While experimental, the music here is very psychedelic.
Favorite song: Reflected (which would later be re-written as “Elected” from Billion Dollar Babies)
Also good: Levity Ball, Living, Apple Bush
Pretties For You- 5/10

Easy ActionEasy Action (1970)
Like Pretties for You, Easy Action is yet another strange album. However, Easy Action is a little closer to the shock rock image that the band would adopt come the next album. With that, this is the better album but not by much.
Favorite song: Mr. and Miss Demeanor
Also good: Shoe Salesman, Below Your Means, Refrigerator Heaven

Easy Action- 5/10

 

Love It To DeathLove It To Death (1971)
Third time was the charm for the Alice Cooper band as Love It To Death is easily the band’s first great album. Produced by Bob Ezrin, it is a shock rock classic. The album was also a commercial success, thanks to the hit single “I’m Eighteen.”

Favorite song: Ballad of Dwight Fry
Also good: Caught in a Dream, I’m Eighteen, Long Way to Go, Black Juju, Is It My Body

Love It To Death- 8/10

Killer (1971)Killer
Just months after the release of Love It To Death, the band had released its follow up. Some fans consider Killer to be the best album Alice has ever made. While it’s not my  #1 favorite by him, Killer is indeed a great album. I personally prefer Love It to Death but this is still great. If it has anything over its predecessor, Killer is easily the darker album.

Favorite song: Halo of Flies
Also good: Under My Wheels, Be My Lover, Desperado, Dead Babies

Killer- 8/10

School's OutSchool’s Out (1972)
Released in 1972, School’s Out was yet another great album from the band. The album’s title track is arguably one of the popular songs Alice has ever recorded. This one isn’t as consistent as the last two albums but it does take a step back from the shock rock theme.  Still, you can’t go wrong with this album.

Favorite song: School’s Out (as overplayed as it is, it’s great)
Also good: Public Animal #9, My Stars, Luney Tune, Blue Turk

School's Out- 7/10

Billion Dollar Babies (1973)Billion Dollar Babies
Charting at #1 in the Billboard charts, Billion Dollar Babies was released at the peak of the original band’s career. From beginning to end, this is an all-out classic- featuring hits such as “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Elected.” Of the seven albums the Alice Cooper band released, this is my personal favorite.

Favorite song: No More Mr. Nice Guy
Also good: Hello Hooray, Elected, Raped and Freezing, Billion Dollar Babies, Generation Landslide

Billion Dollar Babies- 9/10

Muscle of LoveMuscle of Love (1973)
As fate would have it, Muscle of Love would be the last album released by the original band. While not a bad album, Muscle of Love isn’t up to par with the last four albums the band had released. Still, this album has some solid tunes- some of them underrated.

Favorite Song: Teenage Lament ‘74
Also good: Big Apple Dreamin’, Never Been Sold Before, Muscle of Love, Hard Hearted Alice

Muscle of Love- 7/10

In 1974, the original Alice Cooper band broke up. The reason behind their split is disputed but it ranges from there being tensions between members and disagreements in the band’s direction. At the time the band split, Alice had legally changed his name to Alice Cooper (when he had been born Vincent Furnier). Despite the band’s split, Alice would continue to use the name as a solo artist from now on.

Welcome to My Nightmare (1975)Welcome to My Nightmare
Of the albums Alice has released, Welcome to My Nightmare is my personal favorite. While fans would agree that this is a great album, it’s too polished and over-the-top with Bob Ezrin’s Broadway-like production. While I completely understand where these fans are coming from, I think this album is the definitive Alice Cooper album. It’s also a concept album, revolving around the nightmare of a boy named Steven.

Favorite song: Welcome to My Nightmare
Also good: The Black Widow, Some Folks, Only Women Bleed, Department of Youth, Cold Ethyl, Escape

Welcome to My Nightmare- 10/10

Alice Cooper Goes to HellAlice Cooper Goes to Hell (1976)
Alice Cooper Goes to Hell is an album some fans have mixed feelings about. Personally, this album took some time to get into but I think it’s a fairly strong album. It does feel like a sequel to Welcome to My Nightmare at times but this one is a little more diverse musically. There are one or two weak tunes but overall, this is good.

Favorite song: Go to Hell
Also good: I Never Cry, Didn’t We Meet, Guilty, Give the Kid a Break, Wake Me Gently

Alice Cooper Goes to Hell- 7/10

Lace and Whiskey (1977)Lace and Whiskey
Alice hit a speed bump with Lace and Whiskey in 1977. Alice tried something different here, with another concept- albeit very loose. For this album, Alice played the part of a hard-boiled detective and it just doesn’t work. Musically, this one is weird- mixing hard rock with ballads and a film noir theme. There’s a few good songs here but overall, I’m not crazy about this one.

Favorite song: You and Me
Also good: It’s Hot Tonight, Road Rats, King of the Silver Screen and My God
Lace and Whiskey- 5/10
By this point in time, Alice’s drinking had gotten out of hand. In 1978, Alice checked himself into rehab but it wasn’t the typical rehabilitation center someone would go to today. Instead, Alice checked himself into a sanitarium in New York- where he was with all kinds of characters, some that were worse off than him.

From the InsideFrom the Inside (1978)
Inspired by his stay in the sanitarium, Alice decided to base his next album around his time there. For this album, Alice worked with Elton John’s songwriter Bernie Taupin and other members from Elton John’s band. At the time of its release, critics didn’t think much of From the Inside. Personally, I love From the Inside. The concept is very clever and I love how Alice was able to have a sense of humor about his time in rehab. Personally, I’d rank From the Inside as one of my top 5 favorite albums by him.

Favorite song: Wish I Was Born in Beverly Hills
Also good: From the Inside, Nurse Rozetta, Millie and Billie, How You Gonna See Me Now, For Veronica’s Sake
From the Inside- 8/10

Flush the Fashion (1980)Fllush the Fashion
Alice kicked off the 1980s with this new wave/punk rock-riddled album. I personally think Flush the Fashion is a very underrated album. It’s a fun album that really reflects what was going on at that time. Commercially, the album had a minor hit with “Clones (We’re All)” but there are some hidden gems on here. At 28 minutes, it’s the shortest album Alice has ever made.

Favorite song: Pain
Also good: Clones, Aspirin Damage, Grim Facts, Dance Yourself to Death, Model Citizen
Flush the Fashion- 7/10

Special ForcesSpecial Forces (1981)
Musically, Special Forces is another new wave album from Alice. Compared to Flush the Fashion, this one isn’t as consistent. Still, there’s a couple of good songs here but then there’s some filler (a new live version of “Generation Landslide”).

Favorite song: Prettiest Cop on the Block
Also good: Who Do You Think We Are, Seven and Seven Is, Skeletons in the Closet, You Look Good In Rags

Special Forces- 6/10

Continued in Part 2

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Aaron ConnThe Wicked Work of Alice Cooper: An Album By Album Guide- Part 1 (1969-81)