Billion Dollar Babies

Alice Cooper

Warner Brothers Records, 1973

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Of all the people you would have predicted to write teenage anthems in the early- to mid-'70s, who would have put their money on Alice Cooper?

The father of shock-rock first caught the eardrums of teenage America with "I'm Eighteen," then followed it up with the ultimate summer vacation anthem, "School's Out". In 1973, Cooper looked to keep that streak alive with Billion Dollar Babies, and while there are some rather tasty tracks on this album, it also was a sign that the machine might have been running out of gas.

Packaged in a sleeve that was designed to look like a snakeskin wallet, Billion Dollar Babies is best remembered for "No More Mr. Nice Guy," a song that still ranks as one of Cooper's best works ever, and the title track which features the work of the hurdy-gurdy man himself, Donovan (though I can't tell where the hell he came in on that song).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The songs on Billion Dollar Babies showed that Cooper could still turn surprising tricks in stories (such as the subject matter of "Raped And Freezin', which dares to make a woman the aggressor), surprise people with stories that have morals ("Unfinished Sweet," a song which shows why I refuse to visit the dentist) and even make the stomach of your mind turn a bit ("Sick Things," "I Love The Dead"). For that matter, am I the only person in the world who thinks it would be the perfect matchup to have Cooper and Marilyn Manson co-headline a tour together?

But for all of the strengths on Billion Dollar Babies, there are equal amounts of weakness. The album's opener, "Hello Hooray" is not the strongest way to kick off an album, while "Elected," a song which could have been a killer track (and could have even been a theme had Cooper decided to run for office), just doesn't live up to the expectations I had for it. It's not a bad song, it's just nothing special.

The second side has some of the weaker material, such as "Generation Landslide" and "Mary-Ann". Even "I Love The Dead" is a bit too macabre for me - if I wanted detail that graphic, I'd go rent Faces Of Death and lose my lunch all over the couch. (For that matter, the dust sleeve photo of the baby made up to look like Alice - well, I thought it was kind of sick, to tell the truth. The kid didn't look too happy, and the makeup looked like Tammy Faye Bakker's runny mascara while her slimebag husband was busy lying to people.)

The overall sound of the album, despite production work from Bob Ezrin, is a bit muddy, though I'm willing to concede this to my old vinyl copy that's been in the Pierce Archives for some two years now, waiting for me to listen to it. The CD could sound better, I don't know.

Billion Dollar Babies most likely will be a welcome addition to the collection of any diehard Alice Cooper fan, but for someone who's just dabbling in his music, you might be best off picking up the greatest hits album, then coming back to this one if only for "Unfinished Sweet".


Rating: C+

User Rating: A



© 1998 Christopher Thelen 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.