WONDER IN ALICELAND
The rise of rock’s Grand Guignol, by Phil Alexander.
THE CLASSIC Killer (WARNER BROS, 1971)
“Killer is the best rock album ever,” declared John Lydon in 1999, recalling the marked impact the Alice Cooper band’s fourth album had on him. Garage-spawned, teenangst riddled hard rock (Under My Wheels, Be My Lover, You Drive Me Nervous), black humour (Dead Babies) and progressive, challenging music (Halo Of Flies) combine on this crowning moment in Alice’s history.
THE WORLD-BEATER School’s Out (WARNER BROS, 1972)
An attempt to translate the switchblade, ‘50s gang glamour of West Side Story into the rock idiom, School’s Out is an LP often overshadowed by its ubiquitous, anthemic title track (a UK Number 1). Its musical complexity remains enthralling, with a narrative that is oblique yet full of nostalgic power, down to its closing lyric: “I hope you don’t forget me, or nothin’. Goodbye.”
GOING SOLO! Welcome To My Nightmare (ATLANTIC, 1975)
As the original AC band fell apart, Alice himself – by then enjoying his multiplatinum status a tad too much – set out on his first solo adventure with long-standing producer Bob Ezrin. Lyrically, Alice continued to depict a spectral world via a mix of wit and schlock-rock muscle. The album’s standout track, however, is Only Women Bleed – a well-constructed ballad with a provocative feminist message.