Album by Album: Alice Cooper
This is the second part of my two-part career retrospective on Alice Cooper. To read the first part, click here.
Zipper Catches Skin (1982)
Zipper Catches Skin is often considered to be one of Alice’s weakest albums. On RateYourMusic.com, the album remains his lowest rated album. Personally, I don’t think it’s a bad album. It’s another new wave/punk rock album from Alice so I don’t mind it. Then again, there isn’t anything too special about it.
Favorite song: Zorro’s Ascent
Also good: Make That Money, Adaptable, Tag You’re It
For Dada, Alice teamed up again with producer Bob Ezrin. While some may not think much of this album, I think Dada is Alice’s most underrated album. It is impressive that Alice was able to make this album as at that point in his life, he’d gone back to drinking. The album follows a loose concept about a man with multiple personalities. Musically, it follows the new wave sound but this one is more experimental- possibly Alice’s most experimental in a long time at that point. While it isn’t perfect, this is definitely worth a listen.
Favorite song: I Love America
Also good: Enough’s Enough, Former Lee Warmer, No Man’s Land, Pass the Gun Around
According to Alice’s 2007 autobiography, he has little to no memory of recording those first four albums from the 1980s. Despite going to rehab, Alice started drinking again after his wife Sheryl offered him a sip of her wine. Alice also became addicted to cocaine, after being introduced to the drug by Bernie Taupin. When Sheryl was about to file for divorce in 1983, Alice was able to stop it from going through as he promised he’d change for good. For three years, Alice Cooper didn’t release any new music. He spent this time trying to beat his addictions and raising his family. Along with becoming a born-again Christian, Alice has been sober for over three decades and has replaced drinking with a new hobby: playing golf.
Armed with guitarist Kane Roberts, Alice was prepared to make his comeback with 1986’s Constrictor. Of the albums Alice has released, Constrictor is my least favorite. While this was Alice’s first album in a while, I still think most of the songs here are weak musically and lyrically. Looking back, this was Alice’s first attempt at making a heavy metal album- though this leans more towards the glam metal sound, which I don’t mind at all. This just isn’t a good album.
Raise Your Fist and Yell (1987)
Working with Kane Roberts again, Raise Your Fist and Yell is the natural follow up to Constrictor. This one is slightly better than Constrictor but it still has its weaknesses. The songs are stronger here and this is a fairly heavy album. Still, this isn’t one of my favorites by Alice.
Produced by Desmond Child, Trash was the commercial comeback that Alice needed. While this is the album that features “Poison,” fans are divided on this album. I’m in between here: there are some really catchy songs on here but at the same time, it’s a little too commercial- with some songs cringe worthy. Overall, this one is okay.
Favorite song: Poison
Also good: House of Fire, Bed of Nails, Trash, Spark in the Dark
Hey Stoopid (1991)
As Alice’s first album released in the 1990s, Hey Stoopid continued with the commercial hard rock sound found on Trash. Between the two, I think Hey Stoopid is the stronger album. The album is loaded with guests- such as Slash, Ozzy Osbourne and Joe Satriani. Hey Stoopid is a fairly long album- given it was released when CDs were increasing in popularity. A couple of these songs could’ve been cut. Still, this is a decent album.
Favorite song: Feed My Frankenstein
Also good: Hey Stoopid, Love’s a Loaded Gun, Die For You, Wind-Up Toy, Dirty Dreams
The Last Temptation (1994)
Alice gave the concept album another go with The Last Temptation. I really like this album: it has a great collection of songs- ranging from wild hard rockers to heartfelt ballads. As for the concept, Alice brought back the character of Steven- who is lured by a mysterious showman to join his traveling sideshow. Marvel Comics even released three-part comic book based on the album in promotion for the album. This is an album worth checking out.
Favorite song: Lost in America
Also good: Sideshow, You’re My Temptation, Stolen Prayer, It’s Me, Lullaby
Brutal Planet (2000)
Aside from a live album in 1997, Alice Cooper would not release any new music for six years. During that six year hiatus, artists such as Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie were very popular- with many comparing the two musicians to Alice. Brutal Planet can be seen as Alice’s response to the industrial rock and metal that was popular at the time. Given how heavy this album is, it took some time for me to get into. Now some 17 years after its release, the album has aged fairly well.
Favorite song: Fantasy Man
Also good: Triggerman, Dragontown, Sex Death and Money, I Just Wanna Be God
The Eyes of Alice Cooper (2003)
Alice brought it back to basics with The Eyes of Alice Cooper. It’s Alice’s take on modern rock music, with a twist of old school. There’s some throwback rockers (“Detroit City”) and even some hilarious tunes (“What Do You Want From Me”).
Dirty Diamonds (2005)
Alice sure likes recording his albums in pairs of two as this album picks up where Eyes left off. Comparing both albums, I find myself liking Dirty Diamonds a little more as this one has more of an old school feel. Some of these songs sound like they were written in the 1970s.
Favorite song: The Saga of Jesse James (one of Alice’s silliest songs ever)
Also good: Woman of Mass Distraction, Perfect, Sunset Babies, Steal That Car, Run Down the Devil
Along Came a Spider (2008)
Alice made another concept album come 2008 with Along Came a Spider. The story here revolves around a serial killer known as the Spider, who wraps his victims in silk and removes their legs. Using his victims’ legs, his plan is to create a giant mechanical spider. I really like this album. Think about it as a cross between Alice Cooper and David Fincher. If the album has any weaknesses, I feel that it’s hard for the songs to stand on their own without the context of the album. Other than that, I think Along Came a Spider is a very good album.
Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)
When working on his next album, Alice was originally working on a sequel to Along Came a Spider, with the working title The Graveyard Shift. This changed when long-time producer Bob Ezrin suggested for Alice to instead make a sequel to Alice’s solo debut from 1975. Welcome 2 My Nightmare is nowhere near the masterpiece that the original is, but it doesn’t need to be. There’s a little bit of everything here musically and that’s what makes this album fun to listen to: it’s a wild ride.
Alice Cooper’s 27th studio album, Paranormal, comes out on July 28th.
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.