Saturday, 20 October 2018

Alice Cooper - School's Out (1972)


Released June 1972

Recorded in New York City

Now starting to build a solid reputation as a rock band, after two impressive albums in “Love It To Death” and “Killer”, Alice Cooper and his band now found themselves crossing over into the gaudy world of “glam rock” as well. This suited a showman like Cooper fine and they full embraced it all. This is by far the most “theatrical” of the Cooper albums so far, almost playing like a sort of concept album, with some very “stagey” songs. In that respect it was a bit of a strange album, but it sort of set the tone for the grandiose glam theatre of “Billion Dollar Babies”.


1. School's Out
2. Luney Tune
3. Gutter Cat Vs. The Jets
4. Street Fight
5. Blue Turk
6. My Stars
7. Public Animal #9
8. Alma Mater
9. Grand Finale

The album still has some of their naturally instinctive rock sound, however, kicking off with the massive number one riffy glam single “School’s Out”.  It sticks out against the rest of the album somewhat, it has to be said. It is one hell of a track too.

“Luney Tune” is a sort of Doors meets T.Rex over a riffy but also orchestrated backing, with some superb rock guitar in the middle. It is a marvellous piece of glammy, showy fluff. “Gutter Cat Vs. The Jets” is like something from the New York stage, a madcap mini rock opera. It paraphrases lines from “West Side Story”. To be honest it doesn’t really work for me. It is all a bit messy. I would rather they stuck to their straight ahead rock, but they always liked to put a few tracks like this on every album. The track merges straight into the short bass workout of “Street Fight”. The old “side one” ended with the soulful, mysterious ambience of “Blue Turk”, with its slightly jazzy and funky stylings. It ends with a trumpet solo, some jazz guitar and sumptuous bass/percssion. All very Broadway. The campness is just a little overdone at times, and I sort of miss the outright rock of “Love It To Death” and “Killer”, but I also admire them for trying something slightly different.

“My Stars” is another mini-epic with some of that almost “prog rock” indulgence that always separated Cooper from the Bowies, T. Rexs, Mott The Hooples and Roxy Musics, catering to his different fan base. It is full of inventive guitar, crazy vocals, mad pace at times but desite its vibrant appeals, I am never sure what the point of it was. Again, despite that, it is enjoyable and well delivered, instrumentally. The Cooper band were underrated musicians. “Public Animal #9” is rhythmic and full of some trademark riffs and returns to the proto-garage rock sound so appealing on their previous two albums. “Alma Mater” has Cooper sounding like Paul McCartney (not for the first time). At the end Cooper asks his old scholmates to “remember “The Coop”…”. I’m sure they did.

“Grande Finale” is an excellent slice of funky, horn-driven instrumental rock to end things off. It is like the finale of a stage musical, as the cast all get ready to take their bows. It has been an odd album, but a strangely fun, experimental one.


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