Posts Tagged ‘Alice Cooper’

Let’s do the rock n roll math. It had been 27 years since Alice Cooper was last in the nation’s capital and this is his tenth tour downunder (a jaunt which celebrates his first Aussie tour four decades back). Yet when the live rock n roll is this hot – numbers are irrelevant.
If it’s rock n roll you came for – it was rock n roll you got – dished out in very loud, copious amounts. This venue has spent most of its life as a concrete laden basketball venue and to be honest – is in need of an upgrade. When that happens, they would be well advised to consider tossing the chairs – which tonight are in neat rows on the floor. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing kills a rock n roll show like chairs. People wanna stand up and dance – get the ya ya’s out. Not easily done sitting down, though fortunately as the music heats up tonight – so too the audience who are on their feet.

The instrumental tune Fractured Mirror means it’s show time and iconic former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley opens the show with a crunching take of ‘Parasite’. Folks, when Frehley is on form, you’d better believe there is no one better. Tonight’s hour long set is beyond superb – one which is littered with tunes from his Kiss career and also his 1978 solo record. Highlights are many: ‘Strange Ways’, ‘Hard Times’, ‘Rocket Ride’ and a blazing ‘Rip It Out’. ‘This number was supposedly a hit here’ utters Space Ace – before belting into ‘Talk To Me’. It didn’t hit the pointy end of the charts back in 1980, but I sure as hell bought it back then, and it’s a treat to hear it live. Frehley’s band are top shelf and give his tunes added muscle. Co-hort Richie Scarlett has paid his dues and his history with Ace goes back to the early to mid-80’s NYC club days. Another highlight of Frehley’s set are indeed his vocals which sound stronger than ever. New York Groove and a sizzling Shock Me end proceedings – showing all and sundry – how the big boys do it. With Ace looking and sounding better than ever, I eagerly await his next studio effort.

One studio effort which has won me over is Alice Cooper’s latest titled ‘Paranormal’. It’s as solid an outing as anything he’s cut in the last twenty years and importantly, it oozes vitality. Further to that – I think that this is one aspect of his live show, which Cooper addresses and nails so so well. I am talking about penning a set list where the more recent tunes sit alongside his rich catalogue of classicks. Some artists don’t do it as well as he does and tonight – it’s a cool mix of newish and old. Case in point is 2000’s ‘Brutal Planet’ which kicks off proceedings and is capitol H – heavy. ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’, a raunchy ‘Under My Wheels’ and ‘Department of Youth’ follow and it’s smiles a mile-wide from many. Like Frehley, Cooper’s voice sounds incredible and he too looks like he’ll be raising hell for some time to come. ‘Paranoiac Personality’ from the aforementioned Paranoral is kicked out tonight to maximum effect and it’s a shame this is the only song off the new record to cop an airing. Lead guitarist Nita Strauss, like Orianthi before her – adds loud, blonde-flavoured guitar and it works so well. Strauss is no slouch and gives the Cooper show added starch. Bassist Chuck Garric has been with Cooper for some time and is rock solid. Surely I can’t be the first writer to mention that he bears a resemblance to original Coop bass man Dennis Dunaway ? Yes ? No ? I bought the ‘Constrictor’ record back in the day and loved it – ‘The World Needs Guts’ from that album is up next and it cooks. Another relative new tune Woman of Mass Distraction – from the Dirty Diamonds album is another of the more recent track on offer and again, sits in well with the familiar material. ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ is always great live as is the super infectious ‘Poison’ – which reached no 3 here back in the late 80’s. Evening highlight for me is ‘Ballad Of Dwight Fry’, always a special moment to see live – from his amazing 1971 LP ‘Love It to Death’. Another special moment to savour – in a lifetime spent devouring cool rock n roll. Fan favourite ‘I’m Eighteen’ still generates crowd electricity before an obligatory Schools Out ends the show. To summarise, this run of Australian dates is clear evidence that when it comes to spitting out rock n roll with broad appeal, Ace Frehley and Alice Cooper both remain at the top of their game.



It is forty years since super ghoul Alice Cooper first toured Australia and he is back downunder – doing a run of dates with Ace Frehley as support act. On episode 79 of The Australian Rock Show, we celebrate the tour by cranking some covers, performed by local artists. We rock, we rant, we recall past rock n roll memories. The guillotine is on board the space ship so let the countdown begin ! Check out this episode !

Music by: Asteroid B-612, Radio Birdman, Alice Cooper, Tex Perkins, Ace Frehley, Smelly Tongues, Girl Monstar

Geeking out here I know, but what the hell. Whilst dusting off parts of the vinyl collection, I noted that both Alice Cooper Band and Stryper both included similar inserts (by way of mock U.S Currency) in their albums. That is where the similarities end I’m afraid as you cannot stack the superb Coop album ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ up against Stryper’s Against The Law’. Apples and Oranges my friends. Any Rockbrat disciples know of other bands who included a U.S note in the album ? Better fly, time to go spot some trains….

Kane Roberts - one of Rockbrats 3 best power metal balladeersBack in 1988, I’m sure that the terms ‘power ballad’ or even ‘hair metal’, were not part of the vocabulary. These terms only came into use in the early 2000s when used to describe late 80’s hard rock bands who had big hair. Back then, EVERY band had record company pressure to come up with a big , soppy ballad to include on the album. For songwriters like Desmond Child, this late 80’s period spelt one word only – pay dirt.  Speaking of which, trailblazers Bon Jovi were well ahead of the pack with stuff like ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ and the like, and so it was that all the big haired bands then had to come up with a big, radio friendly ballad – it if was a hit and sold a zillion copies then even better, and there were certainly some bands who rose to meet this challenge. Bands like the thin sounding Warrant and Poison had big power ballad hits, as did Aerosmith, the Coop, White Lion and Whitesnake. Both Bad English and Mr. Big had big hits with ‘When I see You Smile’ and ‘To Be With You’, and I liked both of these songs a lot. I dug The Babys, and after years of treading the boards with Talas, any success that  bass player supreme Billy Sheehan had with Mr. Big was well deserved. Ozzy and Lita Ford paired up nicely with the great ‘Close My Eyes Forever’ and stalwarts KIX cut one of the finest ballads of that period with ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’.  ‘Still Lovin’ You’ by The Scorpions was great, but I was never hooked on ‘Winds Of Change’.  The ballads by Def Leppard were as expected, polished, but just a little bit sickening for mine. Not surprisingly, Journey has a bunch of good ballads in this period, as did Damn Yankees with ‘Can you take me high enough’. KISS had a couple of good ones too, including the tune, ‘Forever’, that Stanley penned when a journalist asked him how long the band’s reunion facade will last, but let’s face it, there was some pretty bad ones too. LA Guns ‘The Ballad Of Jayne’ came complete with strings. There was also the god awful ‘I Remember You’ by try hards Skid Row, and the couple of ballads that the musically limited Motleys released, ‘Without You’ and ‘Your All I Need’ were aped straight from the Bon Jovi / Sambora song book. ‘House of Pain’ by the musically retarded, god awful Faster Pussycat was just bad, bad, bad and ‘November Rain’ by Rose Tattoo imitators G ‘n’ R just made me puke. More of the formulae ? Try on Firehouse or Tesla, Winger, Slaughter, Bonfire  and Saigon Kick. Yawn. Yet here’s three of the better ballads that you may not be so familiar with. All girl metallers Vixen has a great song off their debut album called ‘Cryin’, and former Alice Cooper axeman Kane ‘Rambo’ Roberts released a brilliant ballad called ‘Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore’ off his debut solo album too. However, if I have to select my favourite ‘power ballad’ from those heady days, it would be a tune called ‘Right By Your Side’, by Chicago’s Enuff Z Nuff, off their 1993 album ‘Animals With Human Intelligence’. This song, and indeed the album, received some critical acclaim, but ultimately failed commercially. Go check out these tunes by Enuff Z Nuff, Vixen and Kane Roberts and let me know your thoughts.

Rockbrats best three power ballads of the late 80s / early 90’s –  1) Enuff Z Nuff – ‘Right By Your Side’, 2) Kane Roberts –   ‘Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore’ and 3) Vixen – ‘Cryin’

Direct from the Bank of Alice Cooper

What: Alice Cooper Billion Dollar Note

This is kinda interesting. Whilst at a Coop show in 1990, he walks out onto the stage as the familiar Billion Dollar Babies drum into is pounded out. He is brandishing a steel sword with what looks like U.S currenxy skewered on. He walks towards the Rockbrat and flails the heavy sword just above me my head – and then the notes rain down from the sword to my waiting hand below. It’s only Play Money and a $100’000 note, but an interesting Cooper collectable nonetheless. Man now I have the song buzzing round the brain !!  Billion Dollar Baby… Rubber Little Monster Baby I Adore you…agh you know the rest !!

Battle Axe

This group of musicians were essentially the core of the Alice Cooper band and with the Coop, cut some of his most memorable recordings. Their last album with him was 1973’s ‘Muscle Of Love’ before Alice and the band parted company – let’s be blunt in saying that once they left, Alice lost that musical spark and it took him years to gain some of that magic back (I am meaning musical impact – not theatrical). Guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith joined forces with talented lead guitarist Mike Marconi and keyboardist Bob Dolin to form this powerful line-up. Released way back in 1977 ‘Battle Axe’ contains some of the catchiest and most likeable rock songs that you are ever going to hear. Naturally enough the sound that the Billion Dollar Babies achieve is very reminiscent of classic early Alice and you can indeed envisage the Coop singing a number of the tracks off ‘Battle Axe’. The teenage torment of ‘Too Young’ is the first cab off the rank and with it’s well written lyrics and hot guitars is a music lover’s delight. Close your eyes and ‘Shine Your Love’ could be a Coop led number. This song is a monster with a chorus bigger than King Kong – a potential smash which still sounds hotter than hell today and boldly gets stamped as one of the lost treasures of all time. Michael Bruce has a strong rock voice and really displays his powers on ‘I Miss You’, which also contains fiery guitar work from Marconi. The tempo slows a little on the beautiful ballad ‘Wasn’t I The One’, a song which is far more poignant and more melodic compared to other shallow heart wrenchers from the same era. The pace picks up again on ‘Love Is Rather Blind’ and has a hard driving riff. The big power chords and sharp keyboards of ‘Rock n Roll Radio’ are yet another highlight. A damaging tune with some inspiring lyrics that could be the motto for Vicious Kitten: “screaming guitars make me lose control, I can’t stop listening to that rock n roll”- brilliant !! ‘Dance With Me’ and ‘Winner’ are both howlers, whilst ‘Sudden Death’ is a well constructed, doomy rock-opera type instrumental that showcases the talents of all members. Sadly this was to be the only album that the Billion Dollar Babies released. Dunaway and Smith went on to form the Flying Tigers, a short lived outfit from Connecticut. ‘Battle Axe’ is a solid, vibrant collection of metal edged rock songs and is out there waiting for you to discover. For more information on the Billion Dollar Babies and the inside story of the Alice Cooper Band, get yourself a copy of Michael Bruce’s new book – ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’.

 Who: Alice Cooper
When: Sydney Entertainment Centre, September 11, 1997 

 I promised myself, as I walked out of Kiss’s Hallenstadion concert in Zurich last December, that I had endured my final ‘big stage’ experience. No more would I enter into the arena zone and suffer from it’s choking effects – the lack of intimacy, cigarette lighters, over-priced merchandise and the endless array of rock clichés. But this is the Coop for fuck sake. The master of horror rock who in his prime would’ve made hollow clones like Marilyn Manson shit their strides. “Face it” quotes a recent bio, “Alice Cooper brought show business and rock & roll together in ways never seen before, and rarely seen since – and the shock waves he created are still shaking the foundations of both”. Too true. So here I am amongst a sea of old denim clad metal-heads, in the belly of the beast so to speak. I so dearly wanted to give the Coop a ‘three skull’ rating, and if I was judging the all-round performance of one Vinnie Furnier himself I would have, but with a band consisting of poodle heads who’ve been associated with the likes of Winger (eek) and Gilby Clarke, it’s a whole different ball game. I am fully aware that half the reason he survived the late 80’s/90’s was by catering to the hard rock/metal brethren and he is indeed now classed as HM – it’s just that this is not the particular era I wish to remember. These bozo’s are fine musicians, but dear me, possess every dumb, tiring rock cliché around. The scariest thing about Alice Cooper in 1997 is his backing band – and I thought that cheeze-metal was dead ! Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh and remind myself that this is not the 26th March, 1977 and I am not at the Sydney Sports Ground ! Tonight was the final show of a mammoth world tour in support of his latest LP ‘A Fistful Of Alice’ – a live offering recorded recently in Mexico. The stage theme undertook a carnival type atmosphere with an array of theme park attractions on view. Several clowns (as in Bo-Bo, not the band members) could also be seen running amok throughout the night. ‘Hello Hooray’ a long time set opener quickly got bums off seats, followed by the very apt ‘Sideshow’ from 1994’s ‘Last Temptation’ album. Former Y&T drummer Jimmy DeGrasso belts out one of the most recognised intro’s ever as ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ is aired. Now this is the stuff I came to hear !! Twenty four years old and still sounding as electrifying as ever, Alice struts and pouts through this classic, whilst slicing the air with a sword-full of dollar bills. ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ follows – it’s well known chords sending the kids next to me into spasms. I had my fingers crossed that personal fave’s ‘Raped And Freezin’, ‘Levity Ball’ and ‘Ballad Of Dwight Fry’ would be played giving reason for a spasm of my own but it didn’t eventuate. What I wasn’t expecting however, was a very hot working of ‘Public Animal No. 9’ taken from the ‘School’s Out’ album !! Dedicated this evening for “everyone who’s ever been in jail” this lost gem was my plum for the night. Wow ! The massacre continues with ‘Be My Lover’, tonight sounding hot, abrasive and very very rockin’. Still one of rock n roll’s premier show men, the Coop graciously accepts a live boa mid song from a helpful clown. Parading the snake across his shoulders, this long time Coop live prop still shocks many and scares the living shit out of some front row punters. Shifting quickly to latter day material, the very metal sounding ‘Lost In America’ is up next and it cooks. With it’s poignant lyrics (which go over the heads of many), tasty riffs and big chorus this track shoulda done much more than limited MTV rotation. ‘Eighteen’ eases off the throttle a little and is warmly received. My eyes widened in disbelief when I saw one of rock’s greatest frontmen fling a guitar over his neck and strum along on the chorus. The Coop playing guitar ? Huh ? I thought I’d seen it all. Please shoot me. ‘From The Inside’, the masterpiece penned by Alice and Bernie Taupin (among others) pleasantly restores my sanity. This 1978 cut was written after Cooper’s time spent in a New York hospital for chronic alcoholism and is another evening stand-out. Those pesky clowns endeavoured mid-song to push the long time sober singer off the wagon with offers of beer, to no avail. Resting on a trash can, the Coop then wails through the beautiful 1975 ballad ‘Only Women Bleed’, tonight sounding note perfect and crystal clear. A magical moment to be savoured for sure. There are no need for drum solo’s in 1997, but nobody has told the boof-head behind the kit and I am forced to sit though a rather tedious and pointless exercise. More recent offerings such as ‘Nothing’s Free’ are kicked out. There are some damn fine moments on ‘The Last Temptation’ and this blistering cut is one of ’em, so too ‘Cleansed By Fire’, which is up next. The Coop (now sporting a top hat and wielding a cane) then rips into an energetic take of ‘Poison’, the top 5 entry from a few years back and a definite crowd fave. No latter day Cooper show is complete without ‘Cold Ethyl’ – the twisted necrophilic trip from ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’. They don’t write ’em like this anymore folks and I’m instantly sent into a state of rock convulsions of my own. ‘Unfinished Sweet’ was another surprise pulled from a back catalogue of riches, where the Coop is locked in a casket and speared by five sinister clowns. Clowns suck ! But they are no match for the super ghoul who breaks free and blasts into ‘School’s Out’, which draws the curtain on a scorching, memorable set. ‘Department Of Youth’ and ‘Under My Wheels’ were the encores – the Coop ending proceedings by threatening to return next year. Until then, keep your eyes peeled for the forthcoming release of the definitive multi-CD box set, ‘The Life & Crimes of Alice Cooper,’ which is an authoritative and comprehensive chronicle of Alice’s entire musical history. No guillotine or electric chair on show tonight, just the bare essentials with some very cool songs. The word ‘legend’ gets used far too generously nowadays, but Alice Cooper is indeed just that, a pioneer who tore a page out of rock n roll and re-wrote it in blood – the ultimate showman who’s recordings in the 70’s were a soundtrack for a whole generation. He is a survivor who rocks hard, is still relevant and will continue to be a sick, nasty creature in the eyes of grannies, and will poison virgin minds for sometime to come.