Tuesday, September 4, 2012
"From the Inside" by Alice Cooper (1978)
View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl.
Filed between: The Commodores and Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
Obtained via: reward for helping a friend sort through a collection he inherited
My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)
The previously reviewed "Alice Cooper Goes to Hell" was released before he went into rehab. "From the Inside" came after rehab. All I can say is thank you, Betty Ford. Alice drew from that experience and then enlisted Bernie Taupin to help him create what I consider to be his most cohesive concept album.
"From the Inside" is just that - it tells the stories of various inmates in an insane asylum, and it does it rather well. The LP also does something else that shouldn't be unexpected, but still surprised me nonetheless. Musically, it sounds a lot like Andrew Lloyd Webber; it's got a choir and piano and orchestration and precision electric guitar. It really feels like the cast recording of some seventies Broadway musical.
And that makes this one of Alice's most unsettling works, because it still has the macabre, visceral lyrics he loves so well. Those never seemed as bad when they were lurking with sleazy, filthy sounds. However, when they're paired up with something cleaner, it makes them feel twice as dirty.
For example, How You Gonna See Me Now is a pretty standard power ballad about a man returning after a long absence. However, within the context of the depravity from the other songs on the record, and the unspoken knowledge of where he must be returning from, the song takes on a strange sense of menace.
It basically depends on which stories you like the best. For me, it was Wish I Were Born in Beverly Hills and For Veronica's Sake - the latter being about an inmate's concern for the pet he had to leave behind. And then the closer, Inmates (We're All Crazy) which absolutely feels like the finale of a great rock opera.
So, is it an album? Yes. Matter of fact, it's a concept album.
Up next, we continue along the lunatic fringe with "As Far as Siam" by Red Rider.