Originally Published: December 03, 1999
Author: Greg Kot
Alice Cooper, "The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper" (Warner Archives/Rhino):
Becoming the "most hated band in Los Angeles" in the late '60s wasn't enough for Alice Cooper. So he returned to his hometown of Detroit and transformed his art-rock combo into middlebrow America's worst nightmare with a string of terrific albums, blazing a trail of fake blood through the Top 40 that made successors such as Kiss, Motley Crue and Marilyn Manson seem tame. Cooper didn't just add theatrical touches such as snakes, fake beheadings, ghoulyish makeup to his live show, he gave his shock-rock a decadent pop twist with the help of gonzo producer Bob Ezrin and added a shot of humor. Early '70s tracks such as "Be My Lover" -- with its pumped up "Sweet Jane" riff, doo-wop harmonies and bump-and-grind Alice-as-Mae West finale -- remain indelible. If only for "I'm Eighteen," which nailed adolescent confusion with unequaled exuberance, Cooper earned his place in rock history.