Alice Cooper

Warner Brothers Records, 1971

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


Another masterpiece from the Alice Cooper group!!! Killer hit the store shelves only a few months after the fantastic Love It To Death (back in a time when bands couldn't take three godamn years between each album, and then release a turd anyway), and not only did it continue the brilliance of that album, but in some ways it's even better.

It's rawer, heavier, creepier, meaner, weirder and more sinister than its predecessor, and if I'm not mistaken, the tour to support this album was the one that sealed their fate as satan worshipping infidels in the eyes of Bible thumping rednecks and outraged, paranoid, neurotic middle class parents, by corrupting the innocent minds of the world's youth with theie violent stage spectacle and twisted lyrics. This ongoing controversy only served to generate more exposure and curiosity for the band, which I'm sure suited the members just fine. Once again, Bob Ezrin guided the band into more groundbreaking territory.

It all starts off with a blistering pace with the classic garage rock song "Under My Wheels", which I personally think would make the perfect companion soundtrack to our current era of road rage! "Be My Lover", the next song, despite a slight similarity to the main guitar riff on "Is It My Body" from the previous album, soon settles into its own personality and is quite a terrific pop tune with an instantly hummable melody and sleazy lyrics.

"Halo Of Flies" is an unorthodox multi-part epic track with lyrics about spies and espionage! The band often looked towards the movies for inspiration when crafting their totally original sounding songs, and this song is one of their finest moments...if only the production was a tad thicker, the song's ultimate potential ferocity could be fully realized. "Desperado" just might be my favourite number on here. Nice classical acoustic intro before it just explodes electrically amid Alice's patented growl, singing about bounty hunters to a theme that brings to mind the classic spaghetti westerns of the 60's that launched Clint Eastwood's fame (By the way, Alice wrote this song for Jim Morrison when they were drinking buddies).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"You Drive Me Nervous" unfortunately suffers from a botched production job, sounding rather flat, as if it had been recorded from behind a wall. This does not however take away from the fact that it is yet another very solid, percussion-driven heavy song with yet another over the top vocal performance from our favourite ghoulish frontman.

"Dead Babies" was another infamous hit, and stirred up great controversy at the time among right wing religious groups who blasted the song as promoting the killing of children, but we all know better than them don't we?? MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

In all seriousness, if you pay attention to the lyrics, they actually criticize the mindless people in society who neglect their children...of course, if you go on stage in front of thousands of people every night and decapitate and/or impale baby dolls to convey your message, I can sorta see where the misconception might come from, and in the early 70's, right after the sensitive era of peace and flower power, any kind of publicity generated by Alice Cooper, rock's first villain, sure wasn't going to hurt record sales!

The original band members said that about two thirds of the album is instrumental, and gosh golly, it's true! There are numerous long winded instrumental passages that zig zag all over the place. That's one of the album's major strengths; the music is extremely dynamic, constantly shifting gears and exploring new territory, like the soundtrack to a movie! And considering the theatrical nature of their live show, this should come as no surprise. You can just hear how certain parts were specifically crafted to evoke a certain mood in tandem with what's supposed to happen on stage, like the spooky organ driven gothic death march melody in the title track, which was usually played when poor Alice was being marched to the scaffold to get his head lopped off! Just fucking awesome music...why can't bands compose dramatically like this nowadays?? Keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time.

In great contrast to our current day emphasis on predictable singles, Killer is an album that takes you on a musical journey through long, meandering instrumental passages that manage to successfully combine endlessly fascinating theatrical melodies with inventive musicianship without ever becoming redundant, boring, or wanky...folks, this kind of truly talented rock songwriting just doesn't get created anymore.

Unfortunately, bands with the brilliant visual and musical dynamics of Alice Cooper are very rare. This group's consistency astounds me just as much though; bands that take so many groundbreaking musical chances are more liable to have miss-steps along the way than those who stride the safe and easy route, but it seems that they simply could do no wrong. This album, like the vast majority of Alice Cooper releases, is the very antithesis of genericism.

All Killer, no filler! Ha!

Rating: A-

User Rating: A


© 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 Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.