Alice Cooper

MCA Records, 1986

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


Damn, what's wrong with my cd player...I put in Constrictor and it seems that the repeat function is stuck. Oh no, wait a minute, the player is fine; the music is the problem!

After listening to Constrictor, you'll no doubt wonder if you just listened to one of those cd singles with ten mixes of the same song, because even though I see ten different song titles on the back, all I hear is the same crappy track over and over until my head is close to implosion from the sheer stupidity about each and every last aspect of this so-called music.

It's just unbelievable...can this abomination possibly have been crafted by the same genius whose previous studio album was the superb Dada?? Only three years separate the two, but they are light years apart in terms of quality.

After completing the criminally ignored Dada in 1983, Cooper took off some time to recover from a serious relapse into alcoholism. When he emerged in 1986 fully clean and sober, he unveiled his master plan to reclaim the throne of rock: a modern rock album with a tough, up to date sound, and finally the return of not only the huge theatrical live spectacle of his 70's heyday, but finally stepping back into his classic "ghoul" image for the first time since about 1979. It seemed like a comeback that could not fail!

But it did. And how, at least in the creative sense. To be fair, the tour was a wonderous return to the old days of over the top theatrical horror and was a big success, but the album that accompanied it, Constrictor, is a unmitigated disaster from the first second to the last note.

Wow. You'd think an exceptionally talented veteran artist like Alice would have a certain standard of quality below which he could not dip, but this release makes a complete belly flop into the fecal cesspool that was the mid 80's hair-metal scene.

Every last shitty song here sounds exactly the same as the others. The supremely generic guitar riffs are all interchangeable, and I guarantee that you've heard them all a million times before and since...this Rambo-clone/human ape Kane Roberts is one of the worst guitarists I've ever heard. His playing doesn't even approach anything resembling innovation or a distinct personality...and his solos are the stereotypical 80's kind of blistering scales that ignore the concept of melody. Yup, he's a prime example of one of those wankers who thought he was the next Eddie Van Halen. Pardon my snicker.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Then there's the drumming. Purely abysmal. Same godamn beat on every song, and it's that cliches 80's metal drumming: monotone beat with a very loudly pronounced hit on the snare drum on every backbeat. It's like a sonic version of Chinese water torture.

Let's see, what's my next victim...ah yes, Alice himself. I really love the guy, but this stuff is unforgivable. The lyrics are so terrible that it seem inconceivable that he wrote them. "Where were you when the monkey hit the fan/Thrill my gorilla!" is a shining example of a man whose creative juices seem to have flowed into the sewer. But hey, that didn't stop the single (and featured track in the classic film Friday the 13th, Part 6: Jason Lives "He's Back" from hitting number one on the charts in Sweden.

For the first time Alice Cooper became a cliche and a parody of himself without the wit or humour to acknowledge it. Seems like he sat around and calculated that he would have to adopt the big hair rock sound to be popular again. Everything about this record seems forced and fake, and designed to appeal to airheaded, horny little zit faced mullet wearing 12 years olds who wanted to, umm, rebel (pandering to the lowest common denominator sector of society, no doubt). If this is the sort of tripe headed our way in the wake of newfound sobriety, then I'll gladly pass him the Jack Daniels.

You'd think that even amidst a disc of such poor songwriting that at least one or two diamonds in the rough could be found. Nope! Not even close. Even Pretties For You or the worst material from Special Forces sounds majestic compared with the entire running lengh of Constrictor, and I haven't even mentioned the asinine production yet.

The production couldn't possibly be any worse, and this on a major label in 1986, when technology had vastly improved over previous years? The sound is completely lifeless and dull. Even if you turn it up it sounds like total shit. Not that you'd want to offend your poor ears by exposing them to this muck at any volume higher than "barely perceptible" though. Was it recorded straight from the mixing board? The whole thing sounds like a long demo tape, and combined with the awesomely half assed performances from all of the band's members, we're talking about an album that instantly deserves an existence for all eternity as a substitute coaster at a humid, fly-swarmed, beer hall with beer soaked rotted wood benches, wine-o's lying face down on the floor in their own piss, and with the aroma of fresh puke wafting through the air.

I do believe I've said my piece on the somehow fittingly titled Constrictor. If you want to hear every last lunkheaded, by-the-book 1980's mainstream metal cliche, then you've just found the Holy Grail, bub. If you're looking for the intelligent and inventive Alice Cooper, then do not walk away upon seeing this album, but run with your life. ven the cover is a disgrace, with a very fake looking photo of Alice in the classic make-up with a very unconvincing looking superimposed snake wrapped around his head.

I've read that Alice looks down upon 80's shock rockers WASP (who claim him as a big influence), saying their music and show has no clever or innovative qualities to it, and is often a straight rip-off of things that he has done in the past. He's absolutely right, but in 1986 he was a second rate WASP himself with this release. Actually, Constrictor is one of the worst albums I've ever heard, fact, it's so disgustingly bad that I'm offended by it's very continued existence. Think a fifth rate Ratt, Poison, Warrant, Great White, Winger, you name it...hey, wait a sec...Kip Winger is the bass player on this turd! That speaks volumes.

Oh and by the way, this isn't Cooper's worst album.

Rating: F

User Rating: D-


© 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 MCA Records, and is used for informational purposes only.