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.
Written By Jason Voorhees
Today we will feature one of the early kings of the Sunset Strip Metal scene. As one of the founding fathers of glam metal, W.A.S.P. was one of the pioneers of this important musical genre.
Over the years, W.A.S.P. has carved out a very impressive discography catalog. While their first three records screamed hair metal glory, the band went on to run the gamut of styles and sounds. They were never afraid to push the envelope and their raw edgy attitude and grit made them key players in the heavy metal evolution.
Led by the infamous lead vocalist Blackie Lawless, W.A.S.P. took hair spray infusion to new levels. Whether it was controversial song titles or throwing raw meat into the crowd, the band was always looking to shock the world. In fact, their antics and live show prowess only fueled their popularity in the metal community circles.
As always, ranking this bands top albums will insight quite a challenge. Unlike many of the previous bands, there is widespread debate and opinions as to which ones belong on the Mount Rushmore. Nonetheless, we are always up for the challenge. So sit back, grab a snack and take a deep dive with us into the chronicles of W.A.S.P. Here is their top ten albums of all-time...
10. 'K.F.D.' (1997)
Kill Fuck Die. You cannot push the envelope much further than that one folks. W.A.S.P.'s most polarizing album and least commercially accessible of all-time. The album features a more industrial tone while taking on a polished and almost computerized production. Die hard fans and loyalists were definitely turned off by the change in direction. However; those same fans were thrilled to see the return of golden boy Chris Holmes on the axe. Blackie's songwriting was extremely dark and twisted which closely followed his erratic emotional state of mind. Not a terrible album but certainly not their finest hour.
9. 'Dominator' (2007)
This was the album that would ultimately put W.A.S.P. back on the map. After striking out on the dual concept 'The Neon God' clunkers, the group went back to the drawing board and wrote a solid classic metal thumper. In fact, the album features some stalwart burning fire classics like "Long Way to Go", "The Burning Man" and "Heaven's Hung in Black." It also features another standout semi-ballad "Take Me Up." Plenty of classics to go around, W.A.S.P learned from previous mistakes as they once again embraced their roots. Deja vu was in order!
8. 'Babylon' (2009)
Old school W.A.S.P. was on full display on this thriller. The album even featured covers of Deep Purple's "Burn" and Chuck Berry's "Promised Land" that were stone cold killers. The standout tracks are "Crazy" and "Babylon's Burning" but it's the subtle gems that make this record a grand slam home run. Blackie spent a ton of time writing phenomenal lyrics as he had recently renewed his Christian faith in Jesus. This revelation seemed to ignite a new fire in the band and the results were amazing. This record not only recaptures their glory years, it overshadows them in stellar fashion.
7. 'Still Not Black Enough' (1995)
This is probably the most overlooked album in the catalog of W.A.S.P. Originally planned to be a Lawless solo album, he decided instead for the brand name moniker. Another very pissed off record with tons of energy and endless grit. I sometimes think that Blackie's battle with his demons was the driving force of the band. Another classic album that truly hit you at the core. Timeless classics like "Goodbye America" and "I Can't" were what paced the record. However the sleepers truly told the story of just how underrated it really was. Another solid record.
6. 'Golgotha' (2015)
Some try to write this off as just another Christian heavy metal wanna bee fraud. However, true music enthusiasts recognize the full greatness of this full on masterpiece. Another return to the sound and style of the glory days has this record leaving you coming back for more. The first few tracks have that classic W.A.S.P. symphonic mastery. But nothing rings out harder than "Slaves of the New Order" which beckons the call of their greatest hits mythology...an absolute barnburner folks!! The ballad "Hero of the World" features an epic solo while the epic closer "Golgatha" is an ode to the band's beginnings and Blackie's newfound faith in Christ.
5. 'Inside The Electric Circus' (1986)
Not quite the cream of the crop, but definitely worthy of gratitude and praise. Full of stellar tracks up and down the album. The only thing the album suffers from is that there really are no top of the line hits. However; if its consistency you are looking for then this is your pick. Very little filler abides here as it keeps the audience rocking with endless fervor. This is a plug and play in its purest form. Definitely a more angry tone than its predecessors as it shows that attitude that we have grown accustomed to with W.A.S.P. Another underrated classic.
4. 'Headless Children' (1989)
W.A.S.P reinvented themselves in one fellow swoop with this piece of art. The band took on a heavier tone both musically and lyrically. Probably the best songwriting to ever appear on a W.A.S.P album. Quiet Riots Frankie Banali takes a seat at the drum kit which pays instant dividends. Tracks like the title track "Headless Children" and "Mean Man" remain all-time greats. Meanwhile their cover of the Who's "The Real Me" rattles the cage of even the most novice of fans. Some say this is the bands best all-time album and who can really argue against that. Definitely well written and worthy of bragging rights. Solid record from start to finish!
3. 'The Last Command' (1985)
Talk about thwarting the sophomore slump jinx. While many sophomore albums fall flat on their face, this album did three backflips sideways while landing on it's feet. The album features the mega hit "Wild Child" and "Blind In Texas." However, the hidden deep cuts like "Ballcrusher", "Widowmaker", "Cries In the Night" and the title track define this absolute masterpiece. Definitely one of their classics and among some of the best albums of the era. Of course, it did not hurt that MTV hijacked two of the tracks for mainstay video airplay.
2. 'W.A.S.P.' (1984)
Many would say that this one belongs at the top and who could fault them. Of course, the band originally omitted the controversial track "Animal (Fuck Like A Beast) from the album release due to pressure from the label. However there were plenty of star power tracks including "Hellion", "I Wanna Be Somebody", "Sleeping (In the Fire)" and "School Daze". The album was raw and edgy and proved that W.A.S.P. could hang with the big boys. Chock full of anthemic metal and smoldering with eccentric guitar riffs galore. This was the birthplace of the band but it foreshadowed their rise in prophetic fashion. The raw meat throwing festival of metal struck gold on this gamechanger.
1. 'Crimson Idol' (1992)
This is the pinnacle for W.A.S.P. both musically and lyrically. The mount Everest of their discography catalog. A concept album at the core that takes the listener on a brutally honest journey. It's a tour de force into the mind of the man behind the myth and the legend. "Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Mourgue) may be W.A.S.P.'s heaviest track of all-time. Its an all out menacing assault that destroys all sound barriers in its way. Other tracks like "The Idol", "I am One" and "Hold on to My Heart" paint a picture of a thousand mirrors. Definitely my personal favorite and the cream of the crop for W.A.S.P. The defining moment of the bands legacy.
Written By Jason Voorhees
Welcome back to another edition of Top Album List's here at Philly Rock Radio. Last week saw us tackle one of the greatest hard rock bands to ever grace the stage in Aerosmith. This week we shift our focus to a band that perfected the term brand even before the term was ever created...today we will chronicle KISS.
KISS recently celebrated their 47th anniversary. Over their years of existence, the band has become a larger than life deity, the likes that have rarely been seen. In fact, KISS has their own army of followers, consisting of some of the most loyal and passionate fans in the history of heavy metal music.
While many have argued that the band are merely false prophets in disguise, the fact remains that the band members are actually very talented musicians. Underneath the piles of makeup and marketing madness lies some truly phenomenal records.
KISS has produced quite a catalog including four solo studio albums that were put out by each of the original members...Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley, and Peter Criss. For purposes of this project though, these albums will not be included, nor will we include the live albums. Instead we will focus strictly on their studio albums.
As always, compiling the top albums will be a unique challenge as there are always a wide range of opinions. However; you wanted the best...so here you got the best!!!!!!! Without further ado...here is KISS' top ten albums of all-time...
10. 'Dressed to Kill' (1975)
Their third studio album saw the band take a different direction. While it's predecessor's focused more on that raw edgy attitude, there was more of a pop feel on this one. It seemed like KISS was seeking a commercial breakthrough and this was the first step in that right direction. Tracks like "Room Service", "Ladies in Waiting", "Getaway" and "C'mon and Love Me" are catchy and too the point. "Rock Bottom" starts off slow and ends with a bang. And of course, who could forget the immortal "Rock and Roll All Night." All in all, a very solid album for the queens of makeup and one that would solidify their rise to the top.
9. 'Lick It Up' (1983)
As the makeup came off so did the ladies panties. KISS has always found a way to make an impact when the chips are down and they certainly did so with this publicity stunt. With Vinnie Vincent taking over on lead guitars, the album had a much different sound, both musically and stylistically. KISS tried to embrace their roots as they harkened back to their glory days. The album features a more sleazy glam style tempo with impressive results. Probably the most underrated album that KISS has ever produced. While the title track "Lick it Up" was a massive hit, its the unheralded sleepers that make this one of their all-time bests. Solid record from A-Z.
8. 'Creatures of the Night' (1982)
KISS meets heavy metal on this barn burner. Little to no filler on this one folks. Just a straight up in your face assault of the senses. In fact, this is more of the sound that you would expect from a makeup toting group of hard asses. The record features some of the bands most creative songwriting ever assembled and the intensity is matched by each individual instrument. Yet another highly underrated masterpiece. Despite Ace Frehley appearing on the cover, he did not perform on the album, instead being replaced by Vinnie Vincent on the axe. Nonetheless, the record brings the heat from beginning to end starting with the title track. Also features a tremendous ballad, "I Still Love You."
7. 'Hotter Than Hell' (1974)
This is classic KISS at its most KLASSIC. While the album tanked upon release, it has truly grown in the hearts of the army faithful. If you had to describe the sound it's like a cross between Aerosmith and Black Sabbath. A raw and edgy attitude with plenty of doomy riffs. Tons of live concert staples on this effort including "Got to Choose", "Goin Blind", "Mainline", "All the Way" and "Comin' Home." In fact, some other metal bands have covered a few classics from this album including Anthrax ("Parasite") and Megadeth ("Strange Ways"). Certainly not the bands most famous or popular record but definitely one of their most impressive.
6. 'Love Gun' (1977)
This would be the original band's final moment in the sun before ultimately collapsing underneath a myriad of consequences. While the band was frolicking around in it's newfound celebrity status of elitism, they set aside time to focus on making a great record. Similar in the style and approach of its predecessor, 'Love Gun' featured solid peak rock and roll, set to capture the audience in toe. Multiple hit tracks including "Christine Sixteen", "Shock Me" and "Love Gun" pace the album while subtle lesser known stalwarts like "Almost Human" define it. "Plaster Caster" pays homage to the groupies that share the same title. Another timeless giant.
5. 'Dynasty' (1979)
Although the record was recorded during a time where tensions were at an all-time high, the band was able to buckle down and hit a grand slam on this effort. The album spawned the megahit "I was Made For Loving You" which features a disco-pop style tempo. In fact, the album is littered with disco laden tracks throughout which precluded Paul Stanley's infatuation with romanticism and pop culture. While many of the faithful were put off by the change in direction, KISS certainly stole the spotlight as they once again defied the odds. Not only is this one of the bands finest hours, it was a truly a defining moment for their discography catalog. Still a timeless classic today.
4. 'KISS' (1974)
This marked the birthplace for KISS. This debut album was raw and edgy and featured that good old fashioned sleaze rock. The album is an orgy of classic KISS stalwarts that ring out just as big as their clown like persona. Tracks like "Strutter", "Deuce", "Cold Gin" and "Nothin' To Lose" leave you coming back for more. Where the album is lacking in sound production it makes up with its signature muddy riffs and anthems. Its a record that tells a story and clearly set the tone for a band that was on a mission to take over the world. While loyal fans and listeners all agree that this is one of their best, its music critics that truly recognize the validity of its fire!
3. 'Rock And Roll Over' (1976)
One of my personal favorites, this record captures everything that KISS stands for. "Calling Dr. Love" is not only the albums best track, it may be the best track ever recorded by the band. A stone cold classic hit that still rattles heads today. While the ballad "Hard Luck Woman" rivals their all-time best with ladies and gentlemen alike. The album closes out with the lesser known "Makin' Love" which is hands down their most underrated track of all-time. An album that clearly hits the listener from every angle. Don't look to be betrayed by a Kiss, as this one slaps you on the lip while flashing you in the face.
2. 'Destroyer' (1976)
The album starts off with one of the most iconic openers in hard rock history..."Detroit Rock City." While the band had made a name for themselves in the live circles, they had yet to solidify themselves in the studio album department. This record changed that while finally putting KISS on the map. The album features top notch material throughout including "Flaming Youth", "Shout it out Loud" and "Do You Love Me." However, the gold standard is found on the epic ballad "Beth" which has become a live show staple. The band had reached superhero status at this point and this was the crown jewel of its arsenal. A hard rock masterpiece that certainly rocks more than it does roll!
1. 'Revenge' (1992)
I'm probably going to receive a ton of pushback for this selection. Many experts do not even have this album among KISS' top ten. However; I am here to tell you that those people are just flat out wrong. This is the Mount Rushmore for KISS. 'Revenge' is the crème de le crème of their catalog. Total thriller...zero filler. From beginning to end the album features top notch musicianship. Some of the band's best songwriting finds its place on this record. "Unholy" is exactly what the title says. "Take it Off" is an ode to the ladies and what ya may just see them do at a show. "God Gave Rock and Roll To You" was an MTV giant. "Domino" will leave you crying in your cheerios. You get the point, this record kicks major ass. It's the quintessential moment for KISS; their true swan song!
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