Saturday, 20 October 2018

Alice Cooper - Love It To Death (1971)

  

Released March 1971

Recorded in Chicago

Alice Cooper’s first two albums were sort of late sixties psychedelic/acid rock trippy stuff that felt a bit unfulfilled, not quite sure of what direction to go in. This is their third offering and it is the one which saw the band start to develop their true rock identity. It is a mixture of short, sharp three minute impressive riff-driven rock numbers with two longer, slightly indulgent exercises and one somewhat bizarre cover.  A bit like Doors albums, in that "couple of long tracks/mostly short tracks" respect.

TRACK LISTING

1. Caught In A Dream
2. I'm Eighteen
3. Long Way To Go
4. Black Juju
5. Is It My Body
6. Hallowed By Thy Name
7. Second Coming
8. Ballad Of Dwight Fry
9. Sun Arise

“Caught In A Dream “ is an excellent, riffy, rocking opener, sort of Rolling Stones meets Mott The Hoople. “I’m Eighteeen” continues the quality rock with one of Cooper’s best early tracks. It is ful of great guitar, bluesy in places and rock in others and Cooper’s vocal is starting to show that leery quality he traded on for so many subsequent years. “Long Way To Go” is a fast-paced punky number five years before punk. The guitar and bass runs are pure punk, however, even before The New York Dolls. Check out that punky drumming too. I’m sure The Vibrators and Eddie & The Hot Rods had listened to this. Both The Ramones and The Sex Pistols latterly cited “I’m Eighteen” as highly influential.

“Black Juju” is nine minutes long, very Doors-like in places (Alice’s menacing vocal) and mysterious too. All a bit prog-rock in places, particularly in the swirling organ breaks, but it is certainly not without its good points. The quiet, whispered bit half way through is unneccessary and indulgent, the track could do without it, to be honest.

The riffy rock is back with the Cooper classic “Is It My Body”. It has airs of Free and Led Zeppelin about it, plus Cooper’s own unique stamp. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” sees Cooper deliver one of his supposedly sacreligious songs that so vexed parents back in the early seventies. It is once again very Doors-influenced. It has some excellent percussion on it near the end too. “Second Coming” starts with Cooper sounding just like Paul McCartney against a piano backing, before the huge clunky guitar kicks in. It is another quasi-religious questioning rant. It segues via some classical-influenced piano into the epic and unusual “Ballad Of Dwight Fry” that belies description. there are all sorts of things mixed up in it, heavy guitar riffs, singalong refrains, madcap ranting, melodic piano, strange sound effects, countless changes of pace. It is a bit of a difficult listen, but also a quite intoxicating one. What is was about, though, I guess only Alice and co-writer Michael Bruce knew.

The track morphs into the strange cover of Rolf Harris’s Outback-inspired “Sun Arise”. Funnily enough it sort of works, with its tribal drum sound and pulsating bass rhythms. This was a little-mentioned, but highly-influential album and one well worth checking out.

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