|Alice Cooper (band)|
Years: 1968 – 1974
Styles: Classic Rock, Experimental Rock, Glam Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Psychedelic Rock
Alice Cooper - Harmonica, Lead vocals, Vocals (in band: 1968 - 1974)
Michael Bruce - Backing vocals, Keyboards, Lead vocals, Organ, Piano, Rhythm guitar (in band: 1968 - 1974)
Glen Buxton - Lead guitar (in band: 1968 - 1974)
Dennis Dunaway - Backing vocals, Bass Guitar (in band: 1968 - 1974)
Neal Smith - Backing vocals, Drums (in band: 1968 - 1974)
Alice Cooper was an American rock band formed in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. The band consisted of lead singer Vince Furnier, Glen Buxton (lead guitar), Michael Bruce (rhythm guitar, keyboards), Dennis Dunaway (bass guitar), and Neal Smith (drums). Furnier legally changed his name to Alice Cooper and has had a solo career under that name since the band became inactive in 1975. The band was notorious for their elaborate, theatrical shock rock stage shows. In 2011, the original Alice Cooper band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
After several years of little success, the Alice Cooper band rose to fame in 1971 with the success of the single "I'm Eighteen" and the album "Love It to Death". The band peaked in popularity in 1973 with the album "Billion Dollar Babies" and its tour, which broke box-office records previously held by The Rolling Stones.
Alice Cooper's third album, "Love It to Death", can be pinpointed as the release when everything began to come together for the band. Their first couple of albums ("Pretties for You" and "Easy Action") were both largely psychedelic/acid rock affairs and bore little comparison to the band's eventual rip-roaring, teenage-anthem direction. The main reason for the quintet's change was that the eventually legendary producer Bob Ezrin was on board for the first time and helped the Coopers focus their songwriting and sound, while they also perfected their trashy, violent, and theatrical stage show and image.
One of the band's most instantly identifiable anthems, "I'm Eighteen," was what made the album a hit, as well as another classic, "Is It My Body." But like Alice Cooper's other albums from the early '70s, it was an incredibly consistent listen from beginning to end. The garage rocker "Caught in a Dream" as well as the ass-kicking "Long Way to Go" and a pair of epics -- the Doors-esque "Black Juju" and the eerie "Ballad of Dwight Fry" -- showed that Alice was easily in league with other high-energy Detroit bands of the era (MC5, Stooges). "Love It to Death" was the first of a string of classic releases from the original Alice Cooper group.
Alice Cooper wasted little time following up the breakthrough success of "Love It to Death" with another album released the same year, "Killer". Again, producer Bob Ezrin was on board and helps the group solidify their heavy rock (yet wide-ranging) style even further. The band's stage show dealt with the macabre, and such disturbing tracks as "Dead Babies" and the title track fit in perfectly. Other songs were even more exceptional, such as the perennial barnstorming concert standard "Under My Wheels," the melodic yet gritty "Be My Lover," and the tribute to their fallen friend Jim Morrison, "Desperado."
"School's Out" catapulted Alice Cooper into the hard rock stratosphere, largely due to its timeless, all-time classic title track. But while the song became Alice's highest-charting single ever (reaching number seven on the U.S. charts) and recalled the brash, three-and-a-half-minute garage rock of yore, the majority of the album signaled a more complex compositional directional for the band. Unlike Cooper's previous releases ("Love It to Death", "Killer"), which contained several instantly identifiable hard rock classics, School's Out appears to be a concept album, and aside from the aforementioned title track anthem, few of the other tracks have ever popped up in concert. That's not to say they weren't still strong and memorable; while such cuts as "Gutter Cat vs. the Jets," "Street Fight," "My Stars," and "Grande Finale" came off like mini-epics with a slightly progressive edge, Alice Cooper still managed to maintain their raw, unrefined punk edges, regardless.
With "Billion Dollar Babies", Alice Cooper refined the raw grit of their earlier work in favor of a slightly more polished sound (courtesy of super-producer Bob Ezrin), resulting in a mega-hit album that reached the top of the U.S. album charts. Song for song, "Billion Dollar Babies" is probably the original Alice Cooper group's finest and strongest. Such tracks as "Hello Hooray," the lethal stomp of the title track, the defiant "Elected" (a rewrite of an earlier song, "Reflected"), and the poison-laced pop candy of "No More Mr. Nice Guy" remain among Cooper's greatest achievements. Also included are a pair of perennial concert standards -- the disturbing necrophilia ditty "I Love the Dead" and the chilling macabre of "Sick Things" -- as well as such strong, lesser-known selections as "Raped and Freezin'," "Unfinished Sweet," and perhaps Cooper's most overlooked gem, "Generation Landslide." Nothing seemed like it could stop this great hard rock band from overtaking the universe, but tensions between the members behind the scenes would force the stellar original AC band to split up after just one more album. Not only is "Billion Dollar Babies" one of Cooper's very best; it remains one of rock's all-time, quintessential classics.
The band played their final show on April 8, 1974 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bruce, Dunaway and Smith would go on to form the short-lived band Billion Dollar Babies, producing one album - "Battle Axe" - in 1977.
1. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Cooper_(band)
2. All Music Guide to Rock. The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop and Soul. 3rd Edition 2002. Edited by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Published by Backbeat Books, page 249 - Greg Prato
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