Melody Maker

Originally Published: December 01, 1973

A Clown Like Alice

Author: G. B.

ALICE COOPER: "Muscle Of Love" (Warner Bros).

Outside the Institute of Nude Wrestling five spruced up U.S. Navy guys wait to get to grips with the girls inside.

One covets his cash, another makes a deal with a midget pimp, the other three monkey around.

After some 40 minutes of thick rock, the guys, bleeding and bedraggled, are turfed out by a gorilla with blond locks. Special Police drag 'em from the gutter. The pimp lights a fat cigar. Alice is back in town. For their latest album Detroit's Alice Cooper get back to uncle Jack Richardson, an early producer Bob Ezrin, the man who made their hits, was apparently too busy with Lou Reed, and the Cooper set reportable wanted to work with their old mentor, anyway. I've never really seen Alice Cooper as the greatest album band, but "School's Out" and "Billion Dollar Babies" both captured a mood of genuine menace and evil, unique for their time. These moods are slowly vanishing but, like a snarling tiger, the beast of A.C. will suddenly snap back with a ripping claw of a riff and a bare-tooth beat. Alice still knows how to be a sassy little bitch, too. "We're so young and pretty/We're so young and clean/There's so many things we've never seen," he sings in "Big Apple Dreamin' (Hippo). A song about green kids in red hot city, roses growing in Washington Square. Alice's vocal trademark of snivelling snarl isn't apparent on every track and where Cooper plays it straight other groups appear to have influenced the handling of the song. "Working Up A Sweat," for instance, is a dead ringer for J.Geils Band havin' a house party or somethin' like one - there's even a slice of mouth-harp in there. The organ fade-in on "Hard Hearted Alice" is a Led Zep ploy. Both tracks stand up though, because I like Geils and it's nice to hear Alice being a touch sensitive and wistful on "Hard Hearted". "Crazy Little Child" is another departure - loads of blowsy trad lowing. A clarinet weaves through the bump 'n' grind and Alice sings like a punkish George Melly. The title track - its intro almost apes Robert Parker's "Watch Your Step" line - has a neat change of pace. The "Muscle," incidentally, appears to mean the heart and not the head. It's all pumping, I suppose. The band's also at its old trick of up-dating film scores. Last time it was Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story" soundtrack that got the treatment; here it's our very own James Bond theme inspires "Man With The Golden Gun." Finally there's "Teenage Lament," a good track with Liza Minelli, the Pointer Sisiters, Ronnie Spector and La Belle helping out the doo-wops, etc. and "Woman Machine," a sort of bride of Frankestein '73. More computer taped than stitched limbs. Although I'm not too sure whether it's intended there does seem to be a thin plot running through the titles. Greenhorns. in the big city ("Big Apple Dreamin',") feel unsure ("Never Been Sold Before,") pluck up the courage ("Hard Hearted Alice, ") enter club and loosen up ("Crazy Little Child" and "Working Up A Sweat.") They smell the perfume, get some action ("Muscle Of Love" and Man With The Golden Gun,") come down and get roughed up by these naked women wrestlers ("Teenage Lament" and "Woman Machine.") Course that's all wild speculation. No lyric sheet, the packaging, in corrugated cardboard, is a disaster (we threw our cover away and didn't realise it) but the album is good, hard solid rock. Big hit.