REVIEW: Alice Cooper – Lace and Whiskey (1977)

Next in line of my reviews from Record Store Excursion 2012!  Check out the video below if you missed it.  This one bought at Sonic Boom Music for a measly $7.99!  Thanks, Sonic Boom!

MIKE AND AARON GO TO TORONTO

SAM_1631

ALICE COOPER – Lace and Whiskey (1977)

I’m a big fan of some of these “lost” Alice records, the ones that might not be considered the big hits, from his late 70’s alcoholidaze.  Alice Cooper Goes To Hell was a really cool record, one I like a lot despite its disco tendencies.  Lace and Whiskey followed it a year later.  This is actually Alice’s third solo record, post-Alice Cooper Band.  (I talked about the disintegration of that band in a previous Record Store Tale, see the video blog below!)

Alice tends to write his albums in terms of themes:  Alice in school, Alice having a nightmare, Alice horror.  This time, Alice takes the guise of a heavy drinking detective!

It’s another diverse platter, from honky-tonk (“Damned if You Do”) to more disco and flamboyant balladry that Alice had become known for.  I don’t find there to be a weak track on the whole album.  I’m not a huge fan of the ballad “You And Me”, as it’s hard to compete with a tune like “Only Women Bleed” or even “I Never Cry”.  But it was a hit for Alice, and it’s certainly not bad.   It even made the Muppet Show.  Who can forget Alice dueting with a peacock?  Or whatever that is.

The whole album drips of Ezrin-isms, you can hear his touch on every track.  From rich orchestras, horns, choirs, and the well-honed arrangements he was known for, this album could not have happened without Ezrin.  Indeed, he co-wrote all but two songs.

“King of the Silver Screen” is a great example of a Cooper/Ezrin/Dick Wagner composition.  It has that dramatic Ezrin touch, Alice’s Hollywood-homage lyrics, with a rock guitar riff that serves to anchor the whole thing.  And what’s with those little musical segues there?  I love when Ezrin does stuff like that!

I love “Ubangi Stomp” too.   It’s a 1950’s boogie with Alice doing his best Elvis.  Just great!  Plus who else could possibly utilize the word “Ubangi” in popular music?  Alice, that’s who.

Lace and Whiskey is surely one  of the most diverse Alice records, and that is one thing I love about Alice.  I even like the disco song.  Yes, I like the disco song!  No genre is sacred, nothing safe from his sabre.  But it’s all in good fun.  Nobody gets hurt.

Nobody but Alice, who checked into a mental institution shortly after this tour, to deal with his alcohol problems.  But that’s another story.

The tendency from many mainstream music critics is to rate these mid-period Alice albums poorly. But why?  The songs are good, they just don’t rock as hard.  Disco?  So what?  One of Kiss’ best albums was a disco album.

So a middle finger to the mainstream critics.  I like Lace and Whiskey and I’m glad I found it at a cheap price.  Thanks, Sonic Boom!

4/5 stars

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34 comments

  1. I did have this way back in the 80s/early 90s. I always liked this one, I’d be really keen to hear it again. I don’t know why people have it in for this era of Alice. He’s done a lot of really quirky, under-rated albums.

    I like “You and Me” but it’s not quite as good as the songs you mentioned. Although I think it was a song Sinatra did a version of!

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    1. Indeed you’re right! And he had the wisdom to put it on the Brutally Live CD too. I love when he pulls old obscure tunes out of the hat line that, Clones and all that good stuff.

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  2. I remember you snagging that. Didn’t you put it back, then change your mind and go back and pick it up again? I remember brief conversation about it, anyway.

    That sounds like a cool record. I like when things are all over the place. It’s obvious they are chucking all the shit at the wall, seeing what sticks. But who cares? It keeps things hopping.

    [You know I think there’s a post for you: find a few records like this, with all the different styles in one record, then look at the follow-up record and see if the follow-up’s styles match the styles of the most popular tracks from that previous album. I’d bet good money they do].

    Disco? Anybody else remember the late-70s Stones?

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        1. Man, I love Charlie Watts. I wouldn’t tell many men that I love them just like that, but if I met Charlie Watts I would. When it comes to god-like drummers, you have Peart, I have Watts.

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        2. And Watts is so consistently underrated by people who don’t understand, too. I used to hear that all the time at the store, that he was a crappy drummer, by people who didn’t appreciate it. You don’t have to play double bass to be incredible.

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        3. It was at a showing of the movie. The band played a couple of songs in the cinema after the film and answered some questions. They were fantastic. I met Lips, Glen and Robb and got a flyer signed. Great night!

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  3. I hope to revisit the Alice catalog sometime next year, and this is one of the albums I’m most excited to get to know. It’s one of only two Alice studio albums I don’t own on CD (the other being “Muscle Of Love”). I have digital copies of both from a friend’s CDs, but I’ve never found either of them cheap enough to upgrade to a physical copy. I will definitely do that before I get to his discography, and your review has me excited about this. Even his least well-received albums have some worthwhile music, so they’re all worth checking out. Even “Welcome 2 My Nightmare,” which got some horrendous reviews, is really solid if you don’t compare it to the original. Like Ian Anderson’s “Thick As A Brick 2,” it stands better on its own.

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      1. Excellent review of Welcome 2 My Nightmare. That is one of the few positive reviews I’ve read. I was annoyed by the scattered bonus tracks, but that seems to be common practice these days. I bought the Classic Rock Fanpack (had no issue receiving it from Amazon UK) and was very happy with that purchase. Perhaps when I revisit his catalog I’ll seek out those other bonus tracks. The vinyl sounds like a nice acquisition. If I had the money to buy albums in multiple formats, that’s one I would definitely check out.

        I haven’t listened to DaDa enough to have an informed opinion yet. One of the joys of covering artists for my blog is that I’m revisiting the lesser-known catalogs in my collection and finally getting to know them. Even though I own every Alice studio album, there are only a handful I know front-to-back, while the rest I’ve only listened to once or twice. Whenever I finish up his/their catalog, I will have a much better knowledge of each album.

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        1. I ordered mine straight from Classic Rock, and their customer service was horrible. Just awful. It took several emails to get any response that wasn’t just a form letter.

          I didn’t realize this album was getting such middling reviews. I figured everybody must like it as much as I did! I have no idea how Alice can top this!

          The bonus tracks were annoying to collect, but stay tuned Rich. Wait until I get to the Iron Maiden single for Different World, which I had to buy FIVE times to get all the tracks! That’s coming mid-December.

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        2. I have no doubt that Alice can top W2MN. He’s been on a roll for a while, with “The Eyes Of Alice Cooper” being a particular favorite, and the only misstep in my opinion was “Along Came A Spider,” where I think he tried too hard to be “creepy Alice” but didn’t deliver enough great tunes. On W2MN, you can tell he was having fun, so as long as he keeps that attitude and writes some kick-ass songs, I think his winning streak will continue.

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        3. Even better than Eyes Of, in my opinion, was Dirty Diamonds. I love that album. My wife and I saw him in town, on that tour, and he was absolutely awesome. “Sunset Babies (All Got Rabies)” is a classic. Just classic.

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        4. It’s a toss-up, but since “Eyes Of…” was my re-introduction to the world of Alice after many years of disinterest, I have more of a connection to it. Some of the lyrics are simply amazing. I don’t think he gets enough credit for his songwriting.

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        5. I agree wholeheartedly. I am hoping you do revisit Alice Cooper soon, because I don’t own a good number of Alice albums, and I’d like some idea of where to begin filling in the holes. Consider that a vote :)

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        6. Thanks, Mike. I have one more smaller catalog to do the rest of the year (after wrapping up Uncle Tupelo), and then there’s a short list of artists with sizable catalogs that I want to get to. The problem is, since I’m not familiar with a large portion of these artists’ discographies, I need to spend a lot of time with each set of albums before I know them well enough to write about them, so one artist can take me months to complete.

          If I decided to cover my favorites like Zeppelin, The Beatles, Rush, Pink Floyd, The Who, Big Country, Joe Jackson, etc., I could write about them more quickly since I know their music so well. But since that’s not why I started my blog, I just have to accept the slow nature of the process. Rest assured that Alice is on my short list of large catalogs to cover next year.

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        7. I understand fully. Even with the reviews that I did years ago, I’m re-listening to each album as I go, because my opinions and observations change. The reviews are being re-written as I go.

          Aaron and I have a “challenge” coming up in the new year that will require me to listen to a LOT of music I’m completely unfamiliar with. It will be interesting and we’ll be doing it jointly on both blogs.

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        8. It’s always good to challenge yourself when it comes to music. I know a lot of people who stopped listening to new music years ago, other than what’s on the radio or exposed by mass media, and they don’t realize (or care) what they’re missing out on. I could spend all my time listening to the albums I grew up with, but I prefer constantly learning about artists, albums or genres I might have missed…and those are never-ending. Of course, I do still listen to those favorites from my younger years…just not all the time.

          I have to say that learning about music I don’t know as well as I should has been an incredible amount of fun, even if writing about it is a little more work than I want it to be (I’m not a trained writer, and I’d prefer to have conversations rather than write). It’s rewarding when I hear a song by one of the artists I’ve covered on the radio, in a movie, in a TV commercial, etc., and realizing that I wouldn’t have recognized it had I not revisited that artist’s catalog.

          I look forward to reading your “challenge” posts next year, especially since you’ll be writing about music you’re completely unfamiliar with. Should be very interesting.

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        9. It’ll get me out of my comfort zone, that is for sure!

          Since I quit the record store in 2006, I have mostly honed in on my love of metal. Not that I don’t love all types of music, but the last several years I have focused on the stuff I couldn’t play in-store.

          But I do look forward to doing some exploration. That is another great thing about these blogs. I may never have bothered with Uncle Tupelo until your post.

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        10. There’s almost nothing better than finding like-minded music fans to inspire exploration of new artists as well as re-evaluation of old favorites. Metal has never been among my favorite genres…I tend to like a lot of the more popular artists, and skew toward prog-metal due to my love of prog…but blogs like yours help me sort through the crap to get to the good stuff. When I revisited the Sabbath catalog last year, I found it almost too overwhelming. The constant doom-and-gloom lyrics, especially from the Dio era onward, started hurting my brain, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I never would’ve known a brilliant song like “Nightwing” otherwise.

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        11. I whole heartedly believe that there are two types of people in this world:

          1) those who love new music in their youth. They try on different styles, go to shows, talk about music. And then, by the time they hit about 30, they have decided what type of music they like. They may have even hit upon one or two bands that they stick with and that’s it. They no longer branch out. They no longer get excited by new things. They no longer pick up cheap CDs out of sale bins just to see what it’s like. They have become “set” in their musical tastes. Most people fall into this category.

          2) those who love music in their youth, and then go right on trying new things until the day they die. Always looking for something different, always trying directions just to see what’s out there. Over the years, they amass a huge musical knowledge and a fairly trustworthy opinion on most things. These people cannot pass a sale bin without spending ten minutes flipping through it, and will ALWAYS find something to buy from it.

          Me, I like to think I am 2). Sure, I have bands I love, but I also really enjoy new-to-me stuff. It’s why I enjoy Mike’s site, and HMO, and Rich’s site too. You’re writing about things I (probably) haven’t heard before. And, not to plug my own site or anything, I just recently did a video blog about CMJ magazine, which had a monthly promo CD that greatly expanded my knowledge. So I think it’s in my blood, by now! I don’t ever wanna be set in my ways, musically.

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        12. And of course there is a third type of person:

          3) Don’t care about music. Can turn on the radio and happy with whatever they play. Does not follow bands or get excited about any one thing.

          But we won’t talk about THEM, will we? ;)

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        13. You summed it up perfectly. I am definitely in category 2, and always will be. Every day I wake up thinking about music: what I’m going to listen to, what CDs I might order, what might be arriving in the mail that day. I also read magazines like Mojo, Classic Rock and Uncut, so there’s always something or someone to inspire me to check something out. It’s always gratifying when someone reads one of my posts and checks out music they weren’t previously aware of. It’s nice to inspire AND be inspired. I’m sure you guys all understand & agree.

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  4. Now that I’ve revisited this album & wrote about it, I had to come back and re-read your review. Since my original comment I got CD copies of this and “Muscle Of Love,” so my collection of his studio output is now complete. We both love this album, although it seems that you like certain things that didn’t impact me as much. “Ubangi Stomp” was the only cover song here, and even though it’s fun it doesn’t add much to the album. I would’ve preferred an original in that style, like what Zeppelin did with “Hot Dog” or Queen did with “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” just a couple of years later. That’s not to say I dislike the song, but it was one of the lesser tracks for me. Much as I love Ezrin’s unique production touches, I think he & Alice went overboard on “King Of The Silver Screen.” I would’ve loved it a whole lot more without the unnecessary musical quotes (“Battle Hymn Of The Republic”? Really?).

    Anyway, a very underrated album, and I’m glad I finally gave it the time it deserved.

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    1. It’s only during the next phase of Cooper that my attention really starts to wane. But we’ll see…I am revisiting a lot of these albums with you, as I select my music for the car!

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      1. I’ve already given the next batch of albums a couple of listens and even though none of them reach the heights of the earlier releases, there’s been at least a handful of really good songs on each album. I still need to spend more time with them before deciding how I feel. Glad you’re also revisiting some of them now. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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