Circus  - 1991


Originally Published: 1991

Alice Cooper: The Phantom Returns

Author: Paul Gallotta

"Role model?"

The question bounces off Alice Cooper like a rubber bullet as his eyes bulge in mock disbelief. In a career that´s stretched from the late-60′s, Alice has been called many things; "the King of Shock Rock" the most durable. But "role model" is going to far.

"I would hate to think that people consider Alice Cooper a role model," the 43-year-old metal vaudevillian laughs. "I always think of Alice as more of a phantom. People look at a lot of rockers as role models, but Alice doesn't seem to be human. Alice is not role model material - unless you live in the Addams family!"

Like it or not, Alice is on the receiving end of that title. By virtue of the title track and first single off his latest album, Hey Stoopid, the son of an Arizona preacher turned shock-rock phenomemon has unwittingly found himself a spokesman for another generation of rockers.

Alice career began in 1968 when he recorded his first album, Pretties For You, for Frank Zappa's Straight Records. Alice's cult following exploded to mass appeal in 1972 when the single "School's Out" reached the Top 10. His on-stage theatrics included everything macabre from straight jackets to guillotines. And Alice has been responsible for some of hard-rock's most classic albums, namely Billion Dollar Babies, Welcome To My Nightmare and Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits.

"Hey Stoopid" has emerged as one of rock's most powerful anit-suicide anthems, although Cooper is quick to point out that he doesn't see it that way.

"Everybody is anti-suicide," he notes. "It's more of a suicide warning from Alice."

Rolling up the sleeves of his Jane's Addiction T-shirt, Alice continues, "'Hey Stoopid's chorus was such a big sing-along that I didn't want to waste it on a 'Here she comes walkin' down the street in a tight dress and high heels'-type lyric. I was looking for a big subject, and I realized that a lot of my fan mail has a sort of death fixation."

"Drugs are deadly now, sex is deadly now, and it occured to me that in the Seventies, nobody heard of teenage suicide, and now it's a real apparent thing. I don't think you would ever find Alice trying to save the rain forests or the whales or whatever. I figure, let's save the rockers. I figure if anyone was going to say something about it, Alice would be a good candidate."

While he admits with some reluctance to having Alice Cooper being considered a role model for today's disenfranchised youth, he admits that, over the course of his 21-album career, he has become one for nearly three generations of musicians. It's not surprising he was able to get an unprededent collection of hardrock heroes to appear on 'Hey Stoopid': Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Ozzy, Slash and Nikki Sixx.

"A lot of people are nervous to work with me," admits Cooper. "They think, well, here's this guy that's been around forever, he's in a different league. My hardest thing is just getting people to relax.

"But I think the rock & roll fraternity always wants to do their best, especially if it's someone else's album, someone you really admire. It was hard for me to tell Steven Tyler what to sing [on 1989's Trash] because I think he's the best singer around. But I didn't have to, because people like him, Slash, Steve Vai, they all seemed to know exactly what I'm looking for."

Alice plans to be on the road through June of '92, but allows that anything could happen. Especially considering the company he's keeping, at this writing, for his first six weeks of road work.

"There's Judas Priest, Motorhead, Dangerous Toys and Metal Church," he grins slyly. "The Operation Rock & Roll Tour. I can't see us getting through this whole thing without somebody getting some wise ideas. I'm sure there'll be some pratical jokes pulled," his eyes narrow into his most formidable Clint Eastward squint. "You never can tell. Would Alice ever do anything... mean?"

Alice Cooper Rocking Like He's 18

Call it the career that won't die. Just when you're ready to count 43-year-old Alice Cooper out of the runing, the outrageous patron saint of shock rock and vaudeville-metal releases a vital album, Hey Stoopid, his 21st, and turns in a back-to-form performance on the Operation: Rock & Roll tour.

Adored and deemed influential by just about every hard-rocker on the charts, Guns N' Roses included Alice's sinister voice on "The Garden" off Use Your Illusion 1. In August, Cooper (nee Vincent Furnier) was inducted into Hollywood's Rock Walk on Sunset Blvd., and in September, traffic slowed to a standstill when Cooper and his band played a free lunchtime gig in New York City's Time Square. On September 30th, the veteran rocker kicked off a European tour with up-and-comers The Almighty.

"I think there are maybe ten major acts that aare considered 'classic,' and I think Alice is one of those," the man responsible for "I'm Eighteen," "School's Out" and "No More Mr. Nice Guy" says. How does he keep up with the younger set? "I'm in better shape than I was when I was 25. And whe I was 25, I was a mess."

-- Gary Cee

Alice Cooper's Schlock rock

Alice Cooper / Hey Stoopid (Epic)

Big guitars, big drums, big choruses, big everything. The vocals ar piled on so think you feel like you're listening to the Abyssinian Baptist Gospel Choir. There's an allstar cast too: Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Slash, Ozzy, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars.

The songs range from rockers like the anti-suidice anthem "Hey Stoopid" and the paean to lust "Feed My Frankenstein", to power ballads like the sappy, broken-hearted "Die For You". They're listenable enough and Alice's wicked signing is as good as ever, but nothing really grabs you. Ultimately, the album sounds very generic and contrived, with that let's-cram-as-many-hits-as-possible quality. It sounds god on the stereo, but doens't do much for the soul.