Alice Cooper. What a legend. With his trademark theatrical make-up and a gallows or guillotine always on hand to dispatch his fiendish stage persona straight to hell, Alice has left an indelible impression on the history of rock.
To celebrate the release of Alice’s 25th studio album, we thought it was a good time to look back over some of the best songs of his career. This is our Top Ten – feel free to add your own favourite Alice Cooper songs in the comments section.
10) I’m Eighteen
I’m Eighteen is the coming of age song that launched the Alice Cooper band into the limelight. Featured on their major label debut, “Love It To Death”, it’s become a heavy metal classic through the years – and the teenage angst theme would feature in future Cooper tracks like School’s Out and Teenage Lament ’74.
9) School’s Out
Back in ’72, the king of shock rock released his most identifiable song, School’s Out. It became an instant classic, and an anthem which would be rolled out at the end of every school term for the last 36 years. Its tendency to be mercilessly overplayed is perhaps the reason why it charts at number 9 on our list!
8) How You Gonna See Me Now?
What? The king of shock rock in ‘vulnerable moment’ scandal! How You Gonna See Me Now was released after Cooper had spent an extensive period in hospital while being treated for alcoholism. The song’s as far from ‘classic’ Alice as he could possibly get, but fans of the man will dig this track for its autobiographical nature showing Cooper’s insecurities after dealing with his addiction.
How could we resist this slab of pre-Trash album cheese? Freedom was released in 1987, and is notable for Schwarzneggerian guitarist Kane Roberts’ appearance in the video – guitarists aren’t ever meant to have that build, are they? Just watch some of those Status Quo-esque guitar moves…awesome!
6) The Ballad of Dwight Fry
If you’ve seen Alice live, you’ll recognize this brilliant early track which he sings while trussed up in a straightjacket. The lyrics are brilliantly psychotic and delivered with Alice alternating between docile and out-and-out crazy, often in the same verse.
The title track from the Alice Cooper band’s best albums, Alice was riding high at the time (1973) and hanging out with Salvador Dali.
Cooper veritably sneers and spits out the lyrics of the tune, which comes fully loaded with misogynistic and highly sexual themes.
4) Only Women Bleed
It might be hard to imagine a rocker whose pastimes included cavorting with snakes and getting killed on stage receiving praise from women’s groups, but in 1975, Cooper released Only Women Bleed (which bizarrely had nothing to do with menstruation). The song sensitively tackled the issue of domestic violence. Of course, Alice also performed it on stage after fake murdering one of his fellow performers from time to time, also.
Back in ’71, Alice recorded one of our favourite songs – Desperado – an almost Western-themed track about a loner who kills for money. Brilliantly bleak lyrics – “You’re a notch and I’m a legend/You’re at peace and I must hide” – make this an all-time great.
Cooper is seemingly forgetful as to who the song was written about, having cited both Doors frontman Jim Morrison and a character from The Magnificent Seven as the inspiration. However, as far as we’re aware, Jim Morrison was not a hitman at any stage in his career.
Cooper’s 1989 comeback track would have taken the top spot, and it’s the song that introduced a new generation to Alice’s greatness, even if it was co-written by Desmond “All rock bands should sound the same” Child.
From that searing intro to the blistering riff, those big-ass Hair Metal drums and Cooper striding above it all, whip in hand, sneering his lyrics and loving every minute. Oh, and don’t forget the MTV-friendly video babes, a reminder that women once wore their eyebrows au naturalle. But we digress…
1) Halo Of Flies
We know what you’re thinking, “But it wasn’t even a single!” Quit crying, baby. Halo Of Flies is quite simply an epic, 8 and-a-half minutes of amazing rock music. It arguably has no parallel in Cooper’s entire back catalogue.
From 1972’s Killer album, Halo Of Flies is unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Listen to the track below for an example of its sheer brilliance (and also look for Dead Babies from the same album which should have been on this list).
We’ve tried to include some obscure Alice tracks in this round-up. Undoubtedly, long time fans will have their own favourites, so give us your own top 10 down in the comments!
(This ‘best of’ was originally published on our Unreality Music site)