Originally Published: May 1994
Alice Cooper, vanguard of morality? The first clue was 1991's Hey Stoopid, a work that entreated young people not to commit suicide. In The Last Temptation, 10 classic Cooper songs chronicle a boy's fight against Evil. It even comes with a comic book.
"There's certain words we don't use anymore," says Cooper on the phone from his Phoenix home. "We don't use 'temptation', 'sin', 'redemption.' I've always done morality plays. Morality's another word we don't use."
Before your visions of evil Alice whipping impressionable crowds into frenzies fade, think about it - there's not much difference between an evangelist and a rock star when it comes to mob adulation.
"We don't have to give into temptation," continues Alice, who kicked a two-bottles-of-whiskey-a-day habit in the '80s. "We're just saying 'anything goes' with no reprisals. I don't believe in that. I believe you get a bill at the end of your life."
Still, Coop is concerned that Last Temptation be received as more than just a parable. "I think you can listen to it as a rock album," he says. "If you go a little deeper you get the theology."
Two songs, "Stolen Prayer" and "Holy War," were written and backed-up by Chris Cornell (Soundgarden). Coop twitched Cornell's lyrics to fit into his series of songs about "Stevie," a boy who comes from a divorced family ("Lost In America"), gets involved with an evil man ("Temptation"), then emerges triumphant after a struggle ("Cleansed By Fire"). "It was something I could really use on the concept of this album," he says of Cornell's efforts. "When you see the comic book you'll see what I mean." Hey, don't the Seventh Day Adventists use comic books too?
The Last Temptation
Accepting Alice Cooper as a kindly old figure is like admitting Freddie Kruger was just a misunderstood uncle. Once the menace is lost there's not much left to say. Cooper seems to be recalcitrant about his image erosion and tries to inject enough menace in songs like 'Clesned By Fire' and 'You're My Temptation' to warrant at least a shudder. But the only thing offensive here is the saccharine nature of 'The Last Temptation'. Yes there's a couple of tolerable pop songs, but hey, this is the guy who fuelled teenage rebellion in the late 60's and early 70's with 'School's Out' and 'I'm Eighteen'. Now even Alice has to admit his bark has lost its bite. In 'Sideshow' he sings, "I tried to be a circus clown/But even my monkey wouldn't hang around". And in 'Lost In America' cooper complains, "I can't get a car/'Cos I ain't got job!". Hell, the old Alice Cooper would have gone and stolen one! Some singers mature with grace but pour 'ole Alice just sounds tired and burned out. As SCTV's Count Floyd would say, "Isn't that scary, boys and girls?" Scary, no; pathetic, yes. - KS