Originally Published: November 2000
Author: Andy Secher
In the light of what passes for "entertainment" in music circles these days, it's kind of hard to imagine that at one time Alice Cooper was rock and roll's unquestioned King Of Outrage. Back in the late '60s and early '70s, Cooper and his band of hard rockin' outlaws rolled out of the Midwest with an androgynous look and a metallic attack that took the contemporary music world by storm. Alice's outlandish appearance disgusted some and amused others, but somehow most everyone immediately sensed that beneath the horrid make-up and tattered women's clothing lurked the heart of a commercial beast - a guy who had it all planned out from day one.
No, the golf-loving, game-show playing Alice Cooper may never have possessed the "live and die for rock and roll" attitude of a Fred Durst or Jonathan Davis, but through his deft songwriting touch, his ever-more-imaginative showmanship and his skilled business acumen, Cooper emerged as a true rock icon. Such albums as Billion Dollar Babies and Love It To Death helped open the doors for everyone from Kiss to Motley Crue to Slipknot, and in the process launched Cooper on a dizzying roller coaster ride through the highs and lows of life.
Today, however, more than 30 years after he first hit the top of the charts with his immortal paean to teen angst, Eighteen, Cooper is alive and well. In fact, with the release of his latest album, his concept disc Brutal Planet, the always-inventive, continually creative Mr. Cooper has once again reinvented himself. No, he hasn't done away with his trademark sneer nor has he put aside his penchant for wearing black leather or outraging the masses. But what Cooper has done is take his music into the New Millennium, adding a rougher, tougher edge, somewhat ironically, harkens back to the material that first launched his career so many years ago.
This album may be a little heavier than some of the last few things I've done," he said. "But I don't think that I've sacrificed very much in going to a heavier sound. But with Brutal Planet I've worked to create something unlike anything I've ever done before. It's a concept album about the state the world is in at the start of a new millennium - all seen through the eyes of Alice. It's not a very pretty picture; in fact, some of it surprised even me. But it's honest and it's great rock and roll. That's all anyone can ask of me."
Throughout his long and often tempestuous sojourn up the metal mountain, Cooper has maintained a steadfast belief that a good song and a tight band remain the key to both success and longevity in the rock and roll world. Whether he has wallowed in the depths of depression due to drug and alcohol abuse during the early '80s, or returning to the top of the metal charts in the mkid-'90s, Cooper's hard hitting, yet often instantly infectious music has remained his career's lifeline. Much like his British companion-in-metal-arms, Ozzy Osbourne, Cooper has lived through the ups and downs or the rock lifestyle and is all to willing to tell anyone who'll listen that, to no one's surprise, the "ups" are a hell of a lot better. Now with Brutal Planet moving nicely up the sales charts (and drawing the expected degree of mainstream media "heat"), Cooper feels that he has survived yet another rock and roll mid-life crisis.
"Every album is a special challenge," he said. "You never sit back and think, 'Hey, the last one sold a million copies, so this one should too.' Yeah, you have a certain fan base that'll probably buy everything you put out. But unless you're a band like Korn or Metallica, that fan base isn't going to make the album a hit by themselves. It's almost like you have to go out and reintroduce yourself to everybody every time out. Nobody really gives a crap about what you might have done before, they only want to know if the new music rocks."