Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Billion Dollar Babies" by Alice Cooper (1973)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl.

Fun Fact: I am convinced that the opening notes of the  "Beavis and Butt-Head" theme song TOTALLY rip off No More Mister Nice Guy.

Filed between: The Commodores and Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose.

Key Tracks. 
I love No More Mister Nice Guy.  It's the reason I bought "Billion Dollar Babies."  It was my favorite Alice Cooper track... until I heard the next song on the LP - Generation LandslideUnfinished Sweet and Sick Things are both "experiential" songs.  I'll talk about that some more in a sec.

Obvious Filler & Swings-and-Misses:

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
HIGHLY Recommended (3.5/4 stars)

I can't pin Alice Cooper down.  To be honest, I can't even find a genre to pile him into.  Hard rockers and metalheads lay claim to him, and for good reason. His persona, macabre image and ultra-dark lyrics make it seem like a no-brainer.  Let me give you a few examples:
  • "Alone, raped and freezin'"
  • "De Sade's gonna live in my mouth tonight"
  • "Alcohol and razor blades and straight pins and needles, Kindergarten people - they use 'em, they need 'em"
  • "Molotov milk bottles heaved from pink high chairs"
  • "I love the dead before they're cold"
As a metal fan myself, I would love to heave him in with the likes of Sabbath and Maiden, but Alice goes so much deeper than that.

Many parts of "Billion Dollar Babies" are Beatles-esque.  (Seems we just can't escape The Beatles lately.)  The arrangements include horns, piano and even (gasp!) a juice harp.  I swear George Martin was hovering somewhere near when they hit that beautiful harmony on No More Mister Nice Guy with the "my cat clawed my eye" line and the fantastic piano outro on Sick ThingsMary-Ann sounds like it could've fit in perfectly on The White Album.  I Love the Dead sounds like it wants desperately to have been on "Abbey Road," but never would've made it for obvious reasons.

The guitars on "Billion Dollar Babies" dance between metal-ish, hard rock and punky, with seemingly random departures into surf rock and the blues.  (That's a compliment, by the way.)  All of the songs have a great classic rock groove.  They all also have a very punky stance.  And a heart made of pure art/experimental rock.

And the vocals are unlike any act I have ever heard before or since.  They don't even try to fit in anywhere.

So, how do you classify that?  Alice calls it "pretty good Vaudeville."

Personally, the only way I can think to describe it is "experiential."  You can't explain or adequately convey what's going on in songs like Unfinished Sweet or Sick Things - they have to be experienced.  And that's what Alice has always been about on record or on stage or in life - the experience of what's going on.

So, is it an album?  Yes.  Every song is a different facet of the same weirdness.

Up next, one of my all time favorite artists (and our first double album) - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band with "Live Bullet."  (And a DOUBLE LIVE album at that!)

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