This is an album I’ve been meaning to listen to for a while. As you’ll see beneath the fold, I’ve had a rather tumultuous relationship with Alice Cooper, so I’ve been looking forward to listening to how he/they started out.
Enough! On with the show, or off with his head! Whichever’s the case, I have “Pretties For You”.
I think I should start off by saying: I Don’t Like Alice Cooper. Not the band, I mean, but the man himself. I dislike his values, and the concept of an aging rocker hobnobbing and playing golf in his spare time kinda irritates me. It also doesn’t help that he’s a born-again christian, and sees his faith as a rebellion. That makes me want to gag.
He’s also a republican, who considers politics in music to be “treason against rock and roll”. He’s got a right to his opinions, but one of the main purposes of rock is to provide a voice for people, to stick it to the man, and you don’t do that by ignoring the man. For someone who does what he can to be subversive, Alice Cooper seems to be trying extra hard to not be seen to be subversive. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
Whatever. For that reason, it took me ages to get around to listening to Alice Cooper. And to my surprise, once I put that stuff behind me and listened to “Killer”, I actually managed to enjoy his music. Well it’s not that surprising: I have that with a number of people – Eminem is a horrible human being, but funny and knowing enough that I quite like him. I just wouldn’t ever want to meet him. So here I am, listening to his* debut album. And it is surprising for a few reasons.
Here is the first reason: God, his voice has changed a lot across his career! In fact, his everything seems to have. He barely sounds anything like himself. “Reflected” is a perfect example – only 4 years after he released this album, the song was re-released on Billion Dollar Babies, as “Elected”. Have a listen. The latter sounds much more like the man who sung “School’s Out” and does stage shows where he gets executed on stage.
Instead, a lot of this just reminds me of The Who. “Ten Minutes Before The Worm”, for example, just makes me think of “BO-O-RIS THE SPIDER!”, and the previously mentioned “Reflected” sounds more like “I Can See For Miles” than “Killer”. In fact, the first thing I thought of to say about this album when I was listening was “Gosh, this sounds rather a lot like Deep Purple.”
But really, I think he missed the mark. I know I’m gonna seem like an snob now, but the main reason that this doesn’t work as such is that, **sigh**, the songs are too short. Long songs are a genre staple, whereas roughly half of the songs on here are between 1 and 2 minutes long, and don’t even try to blend into the next track. I hate to sound like a fascist, but it is kind of a requirement.
Speaking of structure, it occurred to me whilst I was listening that this album was made in ’68, and as such was released onto vinyl. Which means that it was divided into “Side One” and “Side Two”, but fucked if I could find where the divide lay – even Wikipedia failed me! I suppose it’s not that important, but it’s irritating, as now I cannot comment on whether it even bothered to make a transition from one side to another.
Ah well. ‘Tis a minor grievance, but I don’t like not being able to know that of which I speak.
This is an album which makes me want to listen to the next one – in this case, Easy Action. Not because it’s good, although I have to admit that it is, in many ways good. The songs are solid enough, and the production especially so – it sounds incredibly clean for an album of the time, and every instrument can be easily distinguished from the rest.
The thing is, I think that as of this album, the man himself doesn’t really seem to have established himself as an individual. All of it, while being or seeming quite well done, just feels really derivative. There seems to be a lot of people on this record, and not very many of them are Alice Cooper.
* Or should I say “their” – at this point, Alice Cooper is only the band name. Well, sort of…
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