REVIEW: Alice Cooper – Hey Stoopid (1991)

First of an Alice Cooper double shot!  Tomorrow, The Last Temptation!

ACHS_0002ALICE COOPER – Hey Stoopid (1991 Sony)

When Hey Stoopid first came out in ’91, fans were still reeling from the disappointment (but commercial success) that was the Trash CD. Fans wanted Alice to get heavier and drop the cheese, and Hey Stoopid was a step in the right direction, to be fully realized on his next album The Last Temptation.

It was the era of the virtuoso, and Cooper certainly knows a good musician when he hears one. To me it was a stroke of genius to have Steve Vai and Joe Satriani record a guitar solo together for the first time, and on a song called “Feed My Frankenstein” no less! Guest shots by Ozzy (barely audible, though), Nikki Sixx, Vinnie Moore, and Slash provided enough hype for the fans to salivate.

Songwriting-wise, Hey Stoopid was a step up from Trash. The title track with its lyrical warnings of drug abuse was a fun catchy rocker with a tasty Satriani solo. The solos on this album are all too brief. Still the players being as good as they are create solos that enhance each track. Other standouts include the mindblowing “Might As Well Be On Mars”, an epic Desmond Child song that just aches before it explodes on the choruses. “Die For You”, written by Alice with Motley Crue’s Sixx & Mars, as well as Jim Vallance, has a chorus that bores its way into your brain and stays there like a parasite.

There’s still a lot of filler, something that plagues almost Alice album from Goes To Hell through to Hey Stoopid. “Snakebite”, “Hurricane Years”, “Little By Little” and “Dirty Dreams” are all songs that Alice will never play live in concert, and for good reason.

Yet there are still lots of hidden gems on this CD, all the way through to the final track “Wind-Up Toy”. A song about insanity, as only Alice can do, it is something that really hearkens back to Welcome To My Nightmare. What’s this about “Steven”?

There are also a couple lesser known tracks that aren’t on the domestic CD that are worth tracking down: “It Rained All Night” is a slowy, groovy track that was a B-side but better than some of the ballads on the actual album. “Fire” was a Jimi Hendrix cover with some fiery (pun intended) guitar playing.

The most disappointing thing about Hey Stoopid is the production by the normally excellent Peter Collins. Yes, Trash was too glossy, and yes, Hey Stoopid toughens the sound with more guitars. However the background vocals in particular are so dense, so saccharine, that even Def Leppard would blush. They are credited to different groups of people, and clearly there are a lot of voices here creating this gigantic mush of sound. It’s too much. I much preferred when Alice stripped it down on Dirty Diamonds, an album that deserves much praise. In 1991, production values just seemed to go to this extreme — witness Europe’s Prisoners In Paradise CD for a similar sounding album.

Hey Stoopid was Alice attempting to find his footing again, and while it stumbled, it did pave the way for Last Temptation. If grunge didn’t wipe out hard rock later that year, maybe Hey Stoopid would be regarded more fondly.

3/5 stars. Not great, but certainly not a failure.

Promotional "Hey Stoopid" memo

Promotional “Hey Stoopid” memo

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43 comments

  1. I remember hey stoopid all too well. I wasn’t following Alice too closely after hearing trash on the radio… That song was awful. I received this album as a gift, and i agree with your review completely. This album just felt like he was trying to reach our to “the teenagers” more than make something interesting. It made me uninterested in purchasing the last temptation even when I saw it in a bargain bin… Was that album actually better?

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    1. Hey Cliff, thanks for the comment…oh yeah, Last Temptation was like night & day! You’ll see tomorrow when I put up my review.

      As an added bonus I’ll also be posting a ton of pics from the accompanying Neil Gaiman Last Temptation comic books!

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  2. Mike I bought Trash and Hey Stoopid and I actually remember the songs from Trash better now than HS. HS the song is classic but I dunno I think at the time when these were both released I was buying for the sake of buying anything and everything!
    When I caught Cooper in concert two yrs ago Poison and HS were the only 2 songs he played live from those two,albums.

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    1. Yeah I think the same was true for me, last time I saw Cooper. But he has SO MANY SONGS that there are many albums he doesn’t play ANY songs from. 1 from each isn’t bad! Nice problem to have, having all those songs.

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  3. I’m in complete agreement with you here, Mike. When I did my Alice Cooper series I had low expectations for this album but it was a marked improvement over its predecessor. One of my biggest complaints about Hey Stoopid is the length of many of the songs. Tracks that are 4-1/2 minutes or more could easily have been edited down by a minute and been much stronger as a result. Still, a very good album that’s worthy of your 3/5 rating.

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    1. Oh man, good call! The number of times I’ve said that about so many albums – if they’d just make the songs shorter, more succinct, it would’ve been so awesome. Of course, I like punk, so that may explain a lot…

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  4. “If I may put forward a slice of personal philosophy, I feel that Alice has ruled this world as a stumbling demented child-king long enough! And as his empire crumbles, my precious Billion Dollar Baby shall rise as his most fitting successor!”

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  5. I would have to agree with your views here. Not the best Alice album, but certainly not the worst. “Wind Up Toy” and “Might As Well Be On Mars” are the best tracks, and Alice has even said that the lyrics for “Mars” are the best he’s ever written. I know I’ve felt the sentiment of this song a few times in my life. I did get a special re-release of this album last year with the extra tracks you mentioned. Wish they could catch the thief who stole the sculpture that is pictured on the front of this album…it belongs back in the archives.

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    1. Hey BeeDee, long time no see see!

      Those two songs are incredible, worthy of the canon. Unfortunately neither is on his box set, Life & Crimes Of. I have an Aussie compilation as well, called Freedom for Frankenstein, and neither are on there as well.

      The sculpture was STOLEN?

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  6. I thought Trash was ok. I really liked some songs but it was all too samey overall. It needed more variety. It put me off hearing this at the time. I thought he was played out! I’m also always wary of albums that have big guest lists too. I’m pretty intrigued to hear it now though… might finally buy a copy! Damn you LeBrain!!

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    1. LOL I didn’t even review Trash!

      I think Trash is weaker personally. That one tune with Bon Jovi sucks. I absolutely hate when Jon sings, “If my love were like a lollypop, would you like it?”

      And I’m Your Gun…eww.

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      1. I just realised my last comment was a bit ambigious! I liked Trash for a while but I was a bit fed up with it after a while so when Hey Stoopid came out I just couldn’t be bothered with it. I’ve still got Trash but I’ve never heard Hey Stoopid the whole way through. I think I might finally pick it up though.

        I agree with you on those tracks. I didn’t like the caterwauling duet with Steven Tyler either but the song was ok. It’s just at the end where they start ad-libbing. It’s like cats fighting or fucking (not sure which)

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        1. I just looked over the track list again. There are so many songs on Trash that I really don’t like. Why Trust You. This Maniac’s In Love With You. The title track. Sorry!

          I much prefer an album like Dirty Diamonds.

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        2. I’d say it’s a 50/50 album for me. Half good, half ropey. I think it would have been much better if they’d added a couple of more typical creepy type songs. It’s all too party-hearty. Not very convincing. It’s appeal is mainly nostalgia for me!

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  7. I never bought this one – I think I was a bit fed up with all the LPs at that time where everyone would turn up on everyone else’s LP, they started sounding a bit samey. Always rather liked the cover though.

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  8. I really thought that Trash was a damn brilliant album. It might not be Alice Cooper album style-wise, but it sure has shitloads of killer songs on it. Also, as a Coop fan, I was disappointed by his comeback. Sure, Constrictor was good, but today it sounds extremely dated, but Raise Your Fist And Yell might be the worst piece of crap he ever recorded. So when Trash came out, it was a HUGE step up.
    That made for some great expectations for this one and I can only agree, this album is uneven. Wind-Up Toy and Might As Well Be On Mars are both among the best stuff he has ever released and they both sounds like classic Alice. And Feed My Frankenstein and Burning Our Bed are also really good and I have a soft spot for Love’s A Loaded Gun as well. But the rest is all fillers, I think. Even the title track is really overrated.

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    1. See I think Trash was a lot weaker. There are too many songs on it that I just can’t stand. “Drive you like a hammer on a bed of nails…” I’m Your Gun. I really liked the ballad with Steven Tyler. I didn’t like House of Fire.

      But everybody’s different. I think Constrictor and Raise Your Fist have enough good songs to make one good album, combined. In fact Prince of Darkness is essentially that very album! I like Prince of Darkness a lot. I play it often.

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      1. House Of Fire is one of the best party songs ever. I’m quite baffled why Joan Jett, who wrote the bulk of the song with Desmond Child, didn’t use it for herself.
        But yeah, there are weak spots on Trash. I’m Your Gun and the title track is really bad and Bed Of Nails is a good song with embarrasing lyrics.
        RYFAY had two good songs on it – Gail and Roses On White Lace. Prince Of Darkness and Freedom were both ok songs. Constrictor had really good songs but the lamest production this side of Ron Nevison. It was dated already in 1987.

        Btw, Mike, what is your feavourite and least favourite Coop album?

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        1. Nothing on Trash does, but the songs are damn great anyway.
          That said, I really don’t think that Constrictor or RYFAY does either. Or Brutal Planet and Dragontown. There are shitloads of Alice albums that doesn’t sound like Alice at all.

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        2. I just can’t swallow that album. I’ve come to realize that it has a lot of fans, and many of them are passionate about it! But I can’t get into it, even when I come back to it after a break. Having said that I do love the title track, and a few others.

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        3. I have the Brutally Live CD/DVD but I couldn’t get into that one either.

          One thing I do like about Brutal Planet — the drums. Big fan of Eric Singer.

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  9. I have Trash (the only Cooper I own, sadly), but not this one. I remember it from high school though, lots of guys into it like crazy. I’ll bet if I heard the abum now I’d remember a lot of it, just from overplay way back then.

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    1. I’m very sure we can find a copy for you, if you so desired!

      But I recommend The Last Temptation well over this. Take a gander!

      I posted some accompanying Neil Gaiman artwork. It’s quite beautiful. I hope you like as much as I do!

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      1. If you love The Last Temptation, you need to get (if you don’t already have them) the comics that have the whole story line of the album. It really adds a lot to it, with a deeper meaning. This fall a special 20 year anniversary edition of the comics is going to come out. I have the three separate originals (in color) plus a compiled version with sepia-toned drawings. I’m sure I will buy the new one, too.

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