Album review

Alice Cooper :
The Eyes Of Alice Cooper

Spitfire Records

Alice Cooper : The Eyes Of Alice Cooper Everyone from Marilyn Manson to The Darkness' Justin Hawkins owes something to Alice Cooper - the original hard-drinking, glam-punk shock rocker who scandalised parents back in the velvet goldmine '70s.
    For all his panache, Alice was always more of a borrower than an originator. His old hits like School's Out and Elected scrounged from straight rock bands like The Who, leavening their no-nonsense energy with louche theatrical outrage - and plenty of slap. Even the spectacle was appropriated - classic grand guignol skilfully mixed with a touch of Satanism by way of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
    Fun with boa constrictors and staged mock executions got Alice the requisite column inches - but it was Vincent Furnier, the man behind the moniker, who was really dicing with death by alcoholism. A lengthy stay in rehab set him up for a rejigged career in the '80s and '90s, and collaborations with everyone from virtuoso axemen Steve Vai and Joe Satriani to grunge metal legend Chris Cornell. Like similarly grizzled survivor Iggy Pop, Alice chose his material well and never lost his sense of style.

So what’s the old warhorse up to now? Well, The Eyes Of Alice Cooper couldn't be any further from something like 1994's concept album The Last Temptation. Always one with an eye for current trends, Alice has gone back to the garage and is neatly playing The White Stripes and The Strokes at their own lo-tech game.
    Recording more or less live in a makeshift studio in North Hollywood, he sounds like a man having the time of his life - rawking out like the Foo Fighters in Spirits Rebellious, coming close to pathos in spooky ballad This House Is Haunted, taking the piss out of the, er, creative process in The Song That Didn't Rhyme and relentlessly satirising his glam past in the Suzi Quatro-esque Detroit City: "Me and Iggy were jammin' with Ziggy and kickin' with the MC5 . . . the Kid was in his crib and Shady wore a bib . . ."

The Darkness are currently cleaning up on both sides of the pond, and that's fair enough - their joke was worth making, and for the moment, the world's busy splitting its sides. But Alice brings you rock excess with a wry grin on its face - subtler, more experienced, and ultimately, much more satisfying.

:: Clare O'Brien

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