Love It To Death

Alice Cooper

Straight / Warner Brothers Records, 1971

http://www.alicecooper.com

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/03/2001

Well, for me, this is one of THE essential classic rock albums of all time. It marked Alice Cooper's embrace of Detroit style garage rock with a dark gothic undercurrent after two rather experimental albums, and catapulted the band into the mainstream spotlight upon its release in 1971 (quick side note: the album was finally certified platinum in July 2001, after 30 years on store shelves!).

So many great songs on here, and a bit more muscle in the sound. They totally defined their career with this album. While the band already had an outrageous reputation from their completely unhinged (the infamous controversial chicken incident had already occurred in Toronto, Canada, in 1969), they did not achieve commercial and artisitic acclaim until Love It To Death. And the man who was probably most responsible for this breakthrough was fledgling producer "Toronto" Bob Ezrin.

Together with the band, Ezrin crafted their unique sound, style and image, virtually becoming a band member himself. Under his guidance, the band completely scrapped the bizarre psychedelic leanings they had before and adopted a much leaner, more straight forward rock writing style. This resulted in Love It To Death being saturated with a great pop sensibility in a raw hard rock form... the brilliance of the album is that it is filled with tuneful, memorable, and distinctive melodies while embracing the dark, creepy lyrics and subject matter that would define the pioneering shock rock that Alice Cooper would master and become notorious for over the next 10 year period.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Along with the British band Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper at that time virtually created "dark" rock music which eventually spawned numerous genres such as heavy metal, punk, industrial, and gothic in various incarnations, many years down the road, but it wasn't just the music alone; the very appearance of Alice the man himself (by this time nobody called him Vincent Furnier anymore, except maybe his mom, and he officially changed his name to Alice Cooper in 1972) has literally spawned an entire culture...every single black clad, black make-up wearing, and black dyed haired kid in society, whether they consider themselves goths, metalheads, rivetheads, or anything else, owe a great debt to Alice Cooper for forging that path in the world of fashion and style whether they realize this or not, and whether they are willing to admit this or not.

The true talent of the Alice Cooper band really shone on this album in it's strong songwriting and musical prowess. There is not a single weak song on here...it's Alice in truly fine form. The opening track, "Caught In A Dream", shows right away that the listener is in for a totally different experience than on the first two albums...it's a very melodic uptempo rocker with excellent playing all round.

The second song, "I'm Eighteen," was their first smash hit and really propelled the band into superstardom with this infectuous anthem. It really struck a chord with alienated teenagers by wonderfully celebrating the spirit of youth and its anxieties, and has become one of the defining rock 'n roll tunes of all time. Other stand out tracks include "Hallowed Be My Name" which made no secret of the band's desire to be superstars and embrace the myth of celebrity; "Second Coming" which tackled the always controversial subject of religion in the vintage creepy-button-pushing-shit-disturbing-yet-with-humour-and-wit style that we love Alice for; "Black Juju", a haunting, epic would-be goth voodoo anthem long before the goth rock movement surfaced in the late 70's; "The Ballad Of Dwight Frye", which is a humerous, yet disturbingly creepy song about Dwight Frye, who was an actor who played very bizarre roles in horror films in the 30's and 40's, and finally, "Sun Arise", an unexpectedly poppy cover song to end the album and confuse the listener, and knowing Alice's macabre sense of humour, I'm sure that is the exact effect he was aiming for.

An excellent album in every respect, and considered by many to be the first REAL Coop album. Awesome, gritty, raw, garagey, catchy riffs on every song...if you dig MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, and other similar bands in that vein, then you'll find quite a bit to like here, except that I think the Alice Cooper material is more diverse and interesting than most bands, of any era. It could have been a touch heavier in spots and had better production, but otherwise Love It To Death is a near masterpiece.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A-


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© 2001 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Straight / Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.