After a productive spurt of activity in the late 80’s and early 90’s, Alice Cooper laid low for a while. A fun live album called A Fistful of Alice in 1997 was his first such release in 20 years. There was then a long wait for the next Cooper studio album (Brutal Planet, 2000). In the meantime, fans got to snack on interim treats such as the Australian release, Freedom for Frankenstein.
There are already a number of compilations that cover similar periods to Freedom for Frankenstein. Prince of Darkness (1989) tackled the two MCA albums Constrictor (1986) and Raise Your First and Yell (1987) plus one single B-side. 1995’s Classicks summed up the Epic albums Trash (1989), Hey Stoopid (1991) and The Last Temptation (1994), with the bonus of rare live tracks from the 1989 live home video Alice Cooper Trashes the World, plus the Hendrix cover B-side “Fire”! With those releases already on the market, does Freedom for Frankenstein offer anything unique?
1. “I Got a Line on You”. Spirit wrote this one in 1968 and Alice Cooper covered it in 1988 for the Iron Eagle II soundtrack. Alice’s version was released as a cool music video and stands as one of his best tracks from the era. (You can also get this on the Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper box set.) Here is an easy way to get the song, a must-own for fans of 80’s Alice. This was our first look at Alice’s new musical direction: commercial hard rock! He dropped the splatter horror direction and went full-on for radio and video hits.
2. Four-count-’em-four rare live single B-sides. These are “Go to Hell”, “Ballad of Dwight Fry”, “Sick Things” and “Only Women Bleed/Wind Up Toy”. None overlap with the other two compilations. “Wind Up Toy” was only played on the Hey Stoopid tour.
3. “It Rained All Night”. It is absolutely inexplicable how this song wasn’t included on the Life and Crimes box set. An original Alice Cooper/Desmond Child composition, “It Rained All Night” was also too good to be just another B-side. It backed the single for “Hey Stoopid” but stood as a better track than some on the album. Perhaps it was nixed for being too ballady on an album that didn’t need any more. You can get it most easily now by buying the Hey Stoopid 2013 reissue…but if you get Freedom for Frankenstein instead, you won’t need that reissue at all.
By getting this, you will also acquire “Fire”, and a good number of the best songs from this period. “He’s Back”, “Teenage Frankenstein”, “Freedom”, “Poison”, “House of Fire”, “Hey Stoopid”, and “Feed My Frankenstein” were the big singles, all on one CD. Then there’s “Side Show”, the incredible opener from Alice’s 1994 concept album The Last Temptation. In fact, the only weakness with this CD is that there is only one song from The Last Temptation. Classicks has three — but none of them are “Side Show”.
Freedom for Frankenstein was compiled with the help of Andrew Carpenter, “Australia’s biggest Alice Cooper fan” and archivist. Full points are awarded for the interesting booklet and rarities in the tracklist. I think the running order could be slightly tweaked for a smoother ride, but at over 78 minutes long, these hits and pieces provide value for your bucks.