Hey Stoopid

Alice Cooper

Epic Records, 1991

http://www.alicecooper.com

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/24/2001

After Alice Cooper finally made a huge comeback to the top of the charts in 1989 with the abysmal Trash album after spending a good decade out of the rock spotlight, he didn't waste any time striking while the iron was hot, following up in 1991 with Hey Stoopid.

This album pretty much continues in the same vein as Trash, and that certainly is not a good thing. It's definitely an improvement, but considering this came out in 1991, it sounds incredibly dated already, still suffering from the "big rock" 80's pop metal sound, with few exceptions. This is basically another bland, spineless, blatant stab at commercialism... what ever happened to Alice's dark, thought provoking edge and challenging and interesting musical arrangements?? Once again, none of that is present here...what really infuriates me is that so many of the songs here start off sounding so promising before they predictably collapse in a mess of typical poppy guitar riffs and even more annoying Bon Jovian choruses with large harmonized backup choirs...I hate that.

It seems like he was trying to regain his edge but keeping a commercial friendly sound at the same time. That's an extremely difficult line to straddle, and most of the time it can't be pulled off convincingly. You get the sense with this disc that he was definitely moving in the right direction, but the tendency to play it safe ultimately sinks the record. If Alice Cooper had created such standard albums like this from the beginning, he never would have become relevant at all. It seems at this point that he thought to himself that he had paid his dues and that he just wanted to coast along for the rest of his career on respectably well selling albums that the mainstream could enjoy.

That's right, stick to a safe and easy formula...well, despite this album being pretty successful, it didn't do nearly as well as Trash, so that probably gave him something to think about...man, if I had been a long time fan back in 1991, I think I would have given up hope on Alice, considering by then he hadn't put out a really good album since 1983's Dada.

Once again, he enlisted some big time names for guest appearances on this merely average disc...various members of Motley Crue, Guns 'N Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Vai, and Joe Satriani, among others...not a great idea in my opinion as that sort of thing diverts attention from the artist. A ton of high profile guests is better left for a tribute CD, and none of them really add anything noticeable to my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Hey Stoopid in any way.

Now for a quick glance over some of the tracks, as they don't really warrant much attention: "Hey Stoopid" is an okay song about the negative results of drugs and alcohol...at least it has a positive message I guess...it was one of the hits off this album. "Love's A Loaded Gun" is a pretty forgettable power ballad; "Snakebite" starts quite well as a sneering eerie tune, but then becomes predictable; "Dangerous Tonight" is one of the better songs because it has a darker feel, hinting at the Alice of old, but it also suffers from the slick production and wanky guitar sounds; "Might As Well Be On Mars" again starts strongly with an acoustic creepy intro but then fades somewhat due to much unecessary repetition and overblown arrangements...still one of the better songs he'd written in quite some time though.

"Feed My Frankenstein" was another hit, mainly due to exposure at that time in the movie Wayne's World. It's very cartoonish and silly, but features superb guitar riffs courtesy of virtuosos Steve Vai and Joe Satriani...rather tongue in cheek stuff, the way Alice used to be. "Hurricane Years" is a pretty aggressive uptempo rock song, but it isn't particularly unique, just like most of this material, and I'm not sure I care much for the Top Gun style guitar riff. "Dirty Dreams" is a simplistic, juvenile tune that you'd sooner expect from a more generic band like Kiss than from a creative person like Alice Cooper...hearing him continue to write in this sort of style is very disappointing and a complete waste of his potential. "Little By Little" is a blatant Bon Jovi style rocker, complete with Richie Sambora-type playing through a squawk box, and annoyingly over the top "macho" vocal harmonies on the choruses backing up Alice.

While Hey Stoopid definitely marks an improvement in songwriting quality, it still only comes across as a very average CD. Very little of the material has any sort of staying power, which is a shame because in many spots there are glimpses of the classic Alice who hadn't shown his face for nearly a decade at that point. I get the sense that Alice was content to run with the pack instead of being innovative and lead the way he used to. Fortunately for him (and us), on future albums he would return to his true roots and thankfully end the 1986 - 1991 period that I consider to be his creative nadir.

Hmmm...what a pity that the elements of classic Alice that peek through on certain cuts (usually in the form of darker lyrics) are ultimately submerged with umemorable mediocrity. Several of the songs have strong intros or interesting bridges but usually collapse into mind numbing MTV friendly overblown pop hooks and cliched melodies that might make a few ten year old girl's panties wet.

To sum up, even though this one offers up a similarly shitty pop metal approach as Trash two years earlier, it's a tad darker, heavier, and therefore significantly better, but that's not saying much when compared with something as insurmountably bad as Trash! You simply won't be able to get the thought out of your head that Alice is capable of much better than this, but at least the songs don't all sound the same, and if you listen closely, you can capture the odd subtle reminder of several of his past eras. Hey Stoopid is merely okay, and really inconsistent, and more often than not, quite boring and basic when compared with Alice's best stuff. I hardly ever listen to it.

Rating: D

User Rating: D


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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 Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.