As the vaudeville icon’s headlining slot at Stone Free Festival beckons, it’s time to dust off those Alice Cooper albums and re-learn those timeless lyrics. With a career spanning five decades and 26 albums, there’s a plethora of material to wade through – so here’s our selected highlights to revive the memories of an androgynous anti-hero.
No More Mr Nice Guy – The ultimate Alice Cooper playlist
Reflected (Pretties For You – 1969)
The Alice Cooper Group’s first album should not have been. Frank Zappa, ever the mischievous icon, recorded the band’s practice session without warning and ‘Pretties For You’ was born. With strong psychedelic and Beatles-esque undertones, this song would later wind up as a fitting soundtrack to JFK’s presidential campaign.
The Ballad Of Dwight Fry (Love It To Death – 1971)
With a handful of facets and an emotional depth others have rarely touched upon, ‘Dwight Fry’s misleading lull narrates a tale of dwindling sanity that became Alice’s speciality. As he descends into cries for help, keep in mind that this was performed with the frontman in a genuine straitjacket borrowed from local hospitals, so those agonised pleas are quite real.
I’m Eighteen (Love It To Death – 1971)
A teenage lament of the highest order, Alice’s character suffers a very relatable personality crisis on record. Sure, it’s a little odd now hearing a 68-year-old man sing about his adolescent problems, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Under My Wheels (Killer – 1971)
Don’t mistake this for a Driving Miss Daisy anthem to the open road – there’s nothing pretty about hit and run. With one of the catchiest opening lines of their career, this hit deserves another spin, just don’t get behind the wheel any time soon.
School’s Out (School’s Out – 1972)
The album of the same name came wrapped in a pair of paper pants, which speaks oceans for the mischief the band would rather be doing instead of trigonometry. The idea of a school blown to pieces is a pupil’s dream and a parent’s nightmare, yet the public backlash from this rebellious anthem only made Alice Cooper more infamous.
No More Mr Nice Guy (Billion Dollar Babies – 1973)
From an album that touched on topics such as male rape and post-Halloween dentistry, ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ was a maturing soapbox to draw out their capitalist causes and concerns. ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ attempts to justify the Alice Cooper character by suggesting the world around him turned him bad and listing the many individuals responsible for his revolution.
Teenage Lament ’74 (Muscle Of Love – 1973)
‘Muscle Of Love’ was the last album to feature Alice Cooper as a band and not an individual. Audible androgyny pours through this ballad to Alice’s gold lame jeans and a timely farewell to adolescence – you can almost hear David Bowie’s mascara running.
Welcome To My Nightmare (Welcome To My Nightmare – 1975)
With great musical freedom comes great intimidation, and in celebration of Alice Cooper’s independence from the original band, this sinister tale of a new character introduced Steven, a young boy suffering night terrors beyond his own imagination.
Only Women Bleed (Welcome To My Nightmare – 1975)
It may have been a few years since Alice wore extravagant women’s clothing on stage, but this powerful lament of domestic abuse reached out to an audience beyond his typical youthful demographic.
Department Of Youth (Welcome To My Nightmare – 1975)
Steven’s nightmares are set aside for a catchy solidarity tune to bolster the ’70s youth and their desire for adventure and trouble. Climb a tree, throw stones and forget that adulthood’s right around the corner… but listen out for the last few seconds where the children say exactly who gave them this rebellious power.
Go To Hell (Alice Cooper Goes To Hell – 1976)
Alice Cooper is the man your mother warned you about. He’ll poison a blind man’s dog and steal his cane, he’ll force-feed a diabetic a candy cane, he’ll even giftwrap a leper… Fling absurd accusations at him as much as you want, but that doesn’t mean he’ll listen.
Clones (We’re All) (Flush The Fashion – 1980)
The ’80s affected everyone and Alice Cooper was no exception. With Roxy Music-esque electric backing and robotic melodies that could Short Circuit anyone, ‘Clones’ came fresh from the production line and brought Alice into a new era.
He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask) (Constrictor – 1986)
‘Constrictor’ brought Alice back to sparkling contagious form, and this punchy ode to Jason Voorhees made for a catchy addition to the soundtrack to Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
Poison (Trash – 1989)
Timeless, contagious and totally shameless, ‘Poison’ is now one of the most popular stripper songs in the world, so it’s safe to say it hit all the right notes.
Bed Of Nails (Trash – 1989)
Dripping with menace and laced with sexual tension, ‘Bed Of Nails’ is red-blooded and suggestive in swathes, but Alice Cooper knows how to avoid conjuring a cheesy hit instead of an infectious bedroom soundtrack.
Hey Stoopid (Hey Stoopid – 1991)
If there’s one person who could talk someone out of suicide, it’s Alice Cooper. With a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it guest spot from Ozzy Osbourne, this shout-along anthem doesn’t mince its words, particularly in subtly addressing Cooper’s personal religious views: “Now I know you’ve been seeing red, don’t put a pistol to your head. Sometimes your answer’s heaven sent, your way is so damn permanent.”
Feed My Frankenstein (Hey Stoopid – 1991)
“Well I ain’t evil, I’m just good looking.” One of his most memorable hits is as seductive as they come, but it also transforms into an unforgettable live performance as a larger-than-life Frankenstein takes to the stage to take Alice’s place.
Might As Well Be On Mars (Hey Stoopid – 1991)
Planets apart, a modern Romeo just out of reach of his lover laments his unrequited love from a distance. Punch the sky and deploy the air guitars to a ballad of planetary proportions.
Wind-Up Toy (Hey Stoopid – 1991)
Steven’s back after 15 years but he hasn’t changed in the slightest. Our favourite padded cell resident is still battling his demons by recalling his childhood traumas, conjuring a relatable theme to the outcasts of society that he’s still representing fifty years on. Stick with it until the end, but prepare yourself for goosebumps.
The One That Got Away (Along Came A Spider – 2008)
Menace never looked so good. It would seem the five decades of practice still haven’t made the Alice character adept at kidnap, but rest assured if he’s let one get away this time, it won’t happen again.