Written By Jason Voorhees
After tackling one of the Sunset Strip heroes in last week's edition, this week we are shifting gears a little bit. In today's edition we will take a deep dive into the career of shock rock's forefather Alice Cooper.
Although the horror rock ringmaster is praised for his live show spectacles and putting on a show, it's often forgotten that the man known as Alice has produced 27 studio albums! The man that was born as Vincent Furnier, simply took on the alter ego of his band Alice Cooper full time after the group disbanded in 1975, and the rest was history.
Alice Cooper has transcended the music world morphing himself into a cultural icon. He has made tv and movie appearances, starred in commercials, and has even opened his own themed franchise restaurants. His brand paved the way for other great live show shockers like KISS, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie among others.
With that being said, it's the music that truly needs to be celebrated.
One thing to note is that he rarely has went away for long periods of time and it's that consistency that has led to an immense discography catalog. Today we will try and give you the definitive list of his all-time greats. Of course as always, some of these may be controversial so feel free to disagree. So without further ado...here is the best of the best of Alice Cooper...
10. 'Paranormal' (2017)
Most will probably be shocked to see this one crack the top ten but not your expert music critics. It's a rare feat to see a band's most recent release rank so high in such a well-storied catalog. However; Alice hit a home run on this one. A diverse blend of ALL of the elements that have become a driving force in Alice Cooper's success. The tried and true formula of invasive guitar riffs and hooks, garage style drums, and rah-rah party anthems makes for a truly stellar record. Tracks like "Paranormal", "Dead Flies" and "Fallen In Love" tear down the house. While songs like "Holy Water" and "The Sound of A" infuse that prototypical Alice horror rock infusion.
9. 'Killer' (1971)
How could an album cover be so prophetic? As Cooper would later take on the shock rock persona of horror laden characters, this one was a true stone cold killer. A raw edgy record that featured a much more aggressive approach than it's predecessors. From beginning to end this record truly will rock your socks off. "Under My Wheels" is a balls to the wall opener that sets the pace for a murderer's row of angry rock and roll. Hard to find any filler on this one folks as it simply hits hard. Other standout tracks include "Halo of Flies", "Desperado", "Dead Babies" and the title track. This may be Alice Cooper's most underrated album.
8. 'Constrictor' (1986)
Often referred to as a game changer in the discography catalog. After a long run of lackluster duds, Alice shocked the world with this breath of fresh air. A glam metal style sound was on the menu. Cooper not only struck gold on the entrees but he aced the appetizers as well. Kane Robert's contributions on guitar paid instant dividends while Kip Winger's appearance on bass provided a spark in the dark. A well written record that reinstated Cooper's resume of supreme songwriting. Standout tracks include "Teenage Frankenstein", "Thrill My Gorilla" and "He's Back(The Man Behind The Mask)", the latter also appearing regularly on the Friday The 13th franchise. An 80's metal lovers dream.
7. 'School's Out' (1972)
The title track has become synonymous as the calling card for Alice Cooper. However; the album includes many great tracks, even if they appear to be a bunch of no names in a one track mind. It's a mischievous record that's littered with creative elements and songwriting galore. This was the birthplace and seminal roots of what would later become the giant's calling card theatrical live show. The album exudes that classic Alice energy while displaying a wide range of styles and tones. It's kind of like The Doors meets The Rolling Stones with a shade of Pink Floyd. One of the classics and definitely worthy of top all-time status.
6. 'Raise Your Fist And Yell' (1987)
A full onslaught of metal in the style of DIO. Some of the most impressive guitar work ever assembled on an Alice Cooper record. After introducing a new style and sound on the previous record, the band perfected the sound on this a list album. Tracks like "Freedom", "Lock Me Up" and "Give the Radio Back" light up the floor. But it's the thriller "Prince of Darkness" that truly cements the albums ceiling. If you love that pop style 80's glam metal mania, then this is your choice. One of my personal favorites and the hidden gem of all Alice Cooper albums. A truly great record that certainly outperforms its name. Alice not only raised his fist...he raised his game on this one!
5. 'Welcome To My Nightmare' (1975)
Some say this is the seminal album of Cooper's career. Although it did mark the beginning of his solo career, it also married his persona with the walls of vaudeville. Simply put, it sets the record straight for all of those who remained on the fence as far as Alice Cooper's creative intelligence goes. There is phenomenal songwriting both musically and lyrically. The title track sets the tone but its littered with hidden gems from beginning to end. It's a concept album ahead of it's time. The story of a madman showcasing his talents. The birthplace of shock rock and the beginning of a whole new genre. A subtle balance of rock and jazz.
4. 'Trash' (1989)
'Trash' marked the commercial high point for Alice Cooper. After perfecting the glam metal sound in the previous two records, Alice sacked Desmond Child to help produce this one. The result was a standout megahit single "Poison" which cracked the top ten charting at #7 on the Billboard Top 100. While the super hit was the high point for the album, it was not lacking others in a long list of standout tracks. "Spark in the Dark", "House of Fire", "Why Trust You", "Bed of Nails" and "Trash" were all above average rockers that could light up a stage. "Hell is Living Without You" gave Cooper his first killer ballad in forever. A true tour de force in the Alice Cooper catalog.
3. 'Hey Stoopid' (1991)
This was 'Trash' on steroids. In an effort to continue down the same path of stellar songwriting, Alice summoned a group of guests to perform on the album. And in similar fashion, the album was a huge success. The guests included Slash, Ozzy Osbourne, Vinnie Moore, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars. While the album is truly paced by the massive standout track "Feed My Frankenstein", it's once again the deep cuts that define it's greatness. Songs like "Love's A Loaded Gun", "Snakebite", "Dangerous Tonight" and "Hurricane Years" are flat out killers. "I Might As Well Be on Mars" is yet another stellar ballad. And "Hey Stoopid" is about as good as it gets for a title track!
2. 'Love It to Death' (1971)
A very tight melodic rock and roll record. The opening track "Caught in a Dream" is an absolute masterpiece. Follow that up with the ever popular "I'm Eighteen" and you have a magnificent one-two punch. However; it's "The Ballad of Dwight Fry" that defines the creative genius of the bands leader. The songwriting on this album is way ahead of it's time folks. This is a raucous edgy rock and roll thriller that once again tells a story. We are beginning to see Alice Cooper's true vision and goals as the album plays through. Many people skip this one when ranking the bands greatest but true rock enthusiasts and die hard fans embrace it's greatness! Doom gloom and creepy.
1. 'Billion Dollar Babies' (1973)
The crème de le crème of Alice Cooper's discography. A wide range and mixture of sounds and styles all blended into one. It certainly follows the straightforward formula of megahit singles that mingle with deep cut anti filler hypocrisy. "No More Mr. Nice Guy" is the epitome of Cooper's mean looking persona. It's a stellar record that provides everything that we have grown to appreciate in an Alice Cooper piece of art. Many believe that this was one of the defining moments in the rise of heavy metal. A true masterpiece of epic proportions. This is plug and play at it's finest...and definitely marks Alice Cooper's finest hour. The finale "I Love The Dead" will leave you awestruck.
Stories, news and reviews presented by the staff of Philly Rock Radio.