Friday, July 23, 2021

Decades: Alice Cooper in the 70s

As part of the Sonic Bond Publishing series Decades, they have just released Alice Cooper in the 70s. It follows a similar format to the Uriah Heep one reviewed here but is written by Alice fan and Smethwick Heritage Centre Museum manager, not a football in sight, Chris Sutton. As a fan of Alice since 1971 when, as an avid viewer of The Old Grey Whistle Test (ask your Dad), I witnessed the band in full flow with, possibly my favourite track of all, Under My Wheels getting a brilliant run through. The book provides plenty of background throughout the development and touring behind each album and I was surprised and delighted by the amount of ‘new’ information I gleaned from Chris’s story of the band from their formative years through every album, track by track.

Inevitably, we disagree on some he criticises and, indeed, on some he praises but he is honest and explains his thought processes well and the result is an agree to disagree rather than feeling incensed. The background information, culled mainly from recent interviews by Chris, is always of interest and even solved a longstanding puzzle for me… the noises on the intro of 10 Minutes Before The Worm off Pretties For You is explained thus: “the band decided it was really important to record our guinea pigs, Bert (who was the girl) and Ethyl (who was the guy), chewing lettuce”… so now I Know! The heady ‘Schools Out’ and ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ days also hold attention as the band headed toward the split and the beginning of Alice’s decline and rehab. Step forward Nurse Rozetta (classic)! We also get some nice colour photos of the band and the album covers in a centre section including one of the author with Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith and Michael Bruce at Sickcon in Crewe in 2002… me, jealous? I’m sure it’s for authenticity rather than vanity!

He gives the early, shall we say, less understood Coop albums due attention and reverence, lavishes praise on the mainstream releases and gives a new overview to the post Welcome To My Nightmare records as well as summarising the plethora of compilations, archive and rarities – a couple of which I will now have to seek out, thanks Chris! As I said for the Help companion release, it will appeal to fans of a good rock’n’roll read but is especially valuable to Alice (the band and the man) fans. 

Tom Dixon
North East born, South West domiciled music lover - mainly heavy rock & blues but not averse to other genres. I'm fortunate to have retired early & I can now take full advantage of the 40+ years I have spent collecting, listening, watching & playing (badly) & have enjoyed researching how blues in particular has shaped the music we know & love today. Now if only I could get my Strat & Musicman to sound in reality how they do in my head!

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