Trash

REVIEW: Alice Cooper – Classicks (1995)

ALICE COOPER – Classicks (1995 Sony)

Here’s a bargain basement perennial that you may have missed but might want to reconsider. If you like Alice Cooper — specifically the five year span of 1989-1994 — then this compilation is for you! If you collect Alice Cooper — specifically rare live tracks that have been released on VHS but mostly unavailable on CD — then this compilation is for you!

Classicks isn’t a particularly bad CD, but its limited focus means limited appeal.  Sony only had the rights to a smidgen of Cooper albums so they made due with what they had.  That meant the albums Trash, Hey Stoopid and The Last Temptation, and the home video Alice Cooper Trashes the World.  Of those releases, only The Last Temptation is really given any kind of critical acclaim today.

Classicks begins promisingly enough.  “Poison” is indeed a classic, thanks to that lush Desmond Child vocal production.  The hooks never stop, but “Poison” is the only bonafide classic on the Trash album.  Nothing else comes even remotely close, though “House of Fire” (written by Bon Jovi for New Jersey) has its moments.  Missing is the ballad “It’s Only My Heart Talkin'” with Steven Tyler cameo.

Hey Stoopid‘s guest-laden title track lead single was phenomenal, if not quite as awesome as “Poison” from TrashHey Stoopid was a bit tougher in stature than Trash, and a couple more singles can be found here:  “Love’s a Loaded Gun” and the absolutely massive “Feed My Frankenstein”.  You can thank Wayne and Garth for that one; there is no other way that song was going to be a hit in 1992.  But it was, and you can quote every word of that Wayne’s World scene.  I know you can.

The material from The Last Temptation has stronger bones but not as many candy-coated hooks.  Three tracks total:  smoking first single “Lost In America”, ballad “It’s Me”, and the epic Chris Cornell duet “Stolen Prayer”.  While all three are good ones, “Stolen Prayer” is truly special.  Chris (who wrote the track with Alice) was in peak voice and when he lets it rip at the end, hold on!  An acoustic-electric classic, worthy of far more attention than it gets.

The rest of the CD contains live versions from Trashes the World, all oldies that Sony didn’t have access to otherwise.  The lineup here features some of the guys you saw in Wayne’s World, such as Al Pitrelli & Canadian Pete Friesen (guitars) and keyboardist Derek Sherinian.  Tommy Caradonna and the inimitable Jonathan Mover are the rhythm section for these tracks.  All tracks have those telltale 80s guitar accoutrements.  “Under My Wheels” is rendered a bit faster than usual, but the guitar solos shred.  Likewise with “Billion Dollar Babies”.  “I’m Eighteen” is slower and brooding.  Alice’s opening rap to “No More Mr. Nice Guy” is a gas, although the song’s played a little heavy handedly.  “Only Women Bleed” is reliable, and “School’s Out” is “School’s Out” is “School’s Out”.  “You better know this one,” as Alice says.

Tacked on at the end is Alice’s cover of “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix, not to be confused with his cover of “Fire” by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.  This B-side (to “Love’s a Loaded Gun”) wasn’t the best B-side available (that would be “It Rained All Night”) but at least it’s full of energy.  Whoever that is on guitar (Stef Burns?) rocks.

It’s obvious from the tracklist that this album was just Sony trying to cash in.  Cooper’s contract must have been up.  They tossed in the six live tracks to lure in any collectors who wanted them on CD rather than VHS.  Classicks can often by found brand new in the $5 range — pay no more than that.

2/5 stars

REVIEW: Alice Cooper – Trash (1989)

I sure hope I don’t get “trashed” for this review!  Incidentally, this is the first CD I ever bought, in December of 1989.  I still have it.

COOPER TRASH_0001ALICE COOPER – Trash (1989 Epic)

After the strictly heavy metal n’ horror sounds of the previous two albums, Constrictor and Raise Your Fist And Yell, Alice decided it was time to get back to more diverse hard rock sounds. This time, he immersed himself in everything that was cool in the late 80’s, and created a “theme album” about sex. Cooper albums usually have themes — Alice Cooper in school (School’s Out), Alice Cooper in hell (Goes To Hell), or Alice Cooper insane (From The Inside). Sex was a new theme for this character.

Alice teamed up with Desmond Child, champion of many Bon Jovi and Aerosmith discs, as well as Mr. Jovi and Mr. Tyler themselves, among others. The result is unfortunately what I consider to be a weak disc, dated to the times, and with only a few strong songs that have held up over the years. It is certainly a creative low, though it did sell oodles of copies and was a sort of “comeback” album for Alice.

The first track and first single, “Poison”, is by far the best song. It is strong because it is based on the riff, and though it is commercial it is not blatantly so. It has a unique vibe to it, something authentic that other bands couldn’t touch. Sadly it’s mostly downhill from there. “Spark In The Dark” is unremarkable (though it does boast a killer riff), and so is the second single “House of Fire”. “House of Fire” at least has a catchy chorus, but it is simply too cookie-cutter. You could exchange it with virtually any single from any band’s albums in 1989.  Just look at the writing credits: Desmond Child, Joan Jett, and Alice.  Who was this song written for?

“It’s Only Heart Talking”, which was not written by Alice, is a decent ballad made more special with Steven Tyler’s duet. Otherwise, it is forgettable and inferior to later Alice ballads such as “Might As Well Be On Mars” and “Stolen Prayer”. Smash hit, though, so there’s that.

The lyrics to “Trash”, a duet with JBJ himself, are so bad it’s not even funny. “If my love was a lollypop, would you lick it?” Did Jon Bon just say that? “I’m Your Gun” is hardly better.  I just can’t bear to listen to those songs.  If you’re in the mood for some absolute dreck, check out “This Maniacs’ In Love With You”.

COOPER TRASH_0002One of the more interesting songs that didn’t make the album was “The Ballad Of Alice Cooper”, written by Jon Bon Jovi. There is a poor quality demo of Bon Jovi doing it in his best Alice voice out there. I think it might have been better than most of the tracks on the CD. The Japanese version, however, does have great live versions of “Cold Ethyl” and “Dwight Fry” recorded during this era.  (They can be found on the Alice Cooper Extended Versions CD today.)

This album like its sequel Hey Stoopid was loaded chock full of cameos.  Just scanning the credits, besides Bon Jovi and Steven Tyler, I see: Kip Winger, Hugh McDonald, Joe Perry, Richie Sambora, Steve Lukather, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton.  I think these cameos are very little more than hype.

Cooper’s albums tend to go in similar pairs (Nightmare/Goes To Hell, Constrictor/Raise Your Fist, Brutal Planet/Dragontown). Trash is no exception. Although Cooper realized that Trash was too soft and weak, Hey Stoopid is essentially a brother record to this one. I find it to be much much stronger by comparison.

I would tell casual fans instead of picking up this CD, to pick up something like Cooper’s Classicks. You’ll get the major tracks from this as well as some rare live ones.

2/5 stars

COOPER TRASH_0003

Part 213: A Dandy Douche In Need is a Dandy Douche Indeed

RECORD STORE TALES Part 213:
A Dandy Douche In Need is a Dandy Douche Indeed

While digging through old papers, hard drives, and photos for this blog, I ran across some interesting journal entries.  I had forgotten this myself, but the handful of entries flooded back the memories.  They are regarding Dandy, a person about whom I have very little positive to say.  He brought me never-ending grief.

I remember that there was a fire downtown, and he lived near (or below?) the unit that ignited.  He lost everything in the fire due to water damage.  He couldn’t even go in to get his clothes, it was taped off.  For whatever reason (and I really cannot remember my thoughts to this day), I — me!? — organized a relief fund for him.

I remember Jonathan asking me why I wanted to help him.  I wish I knew what I told Jon.  My motivations are lost to me now.   I think part of the reason I did this was ignorance.  I didn’t know about half the shit he pulled, until after he quit his job at the record store.  If I had known then what I know now, would I have organized a relief fund?

I’ll let the unedited journals speak for themselves.  Only the names have been changed.

Date: 2004/05/18 19:43

I’m putting a collection together to help [Dandy] out after his fire. He had to buy clothes just to come to work today. So far I’ve collected $50, and by Thursday I hope to buy him some sweet gift certificates to replace his clothes and anything else essential he may need. I expect I’ll be able to get about $200 or so by Thursday afternoon. At least I certainly hope so.

You know, I’m not heartless. I can’t forgive [Dandy] for what he did…but that was nothing compared to this tragedy. I think anybody who couldn’t understand my doing this is really, really heartless. I don’t know how someone could feel that way about another person.

Date: 2004/05/19 10:31

Just sold one of my Zeppelin CDs [I had another version of it] and threw the proceeds into the [Dandy] fund.

Date: 2004/05/19 14:02

OK, Julie just stepped up to bat and gave $25 to [Dandy] via PayPal.

Date: 2004/05/20 21:36

Relief fund is now done, and I beat my goal.  I collected $220 for him.  Unfortunately, [someone] accidentally sent HIM an email that should have been sent to me, so he knows about it, there will be no surprise.

It’s actually kind of uncomfortable to read my younger self’s words with the years between us now.  It is what it is: LeBrain in the raw!

GOODY