Music Scene

Originally Published: November 1972

Alice Cooper

(Chaos, Contempt and Controversy)

Author: Roy Carr

The sado-sexual schizophrenia of Alice Cooper's grotesque public ribaldry and the alarming effect it is seen to have on both his audience and on those who choose to defame him as a perverted corruptor of teenage morality, would no doubt, have proved to be a suitable case for the eminent Dr. Sigmund Freud had he been alive to bear witness to such goings-on.

In the time-honoured tradition of all of rock 'n' rolls greatest superstar images, from the outset it has been Cooper's sole intention to surround himself in total chaos, contempt and controversy. This he had managed to do with the utmost panache, as he takes one step further than any other has dared to tread, and believe me, this is just the beginning. Not even Alice knows where it will eventually lead.

"You see, there's absolutely nothing that Alice won't do on stage", he confesses, like Doctor Jekyll discussing the evil doings of Mr Hyde. "In front of an audience, there's no such thing as censorship for Alice Cooper.

"On stage, Alice is a monster . . . an utter maniac . . . and a maniac doesn't ever think about whether he will hurt himself, he doesn't think anything, a maniac just acts".

When as little children we were naughty, Mummy's ultimate deterrent was a warning that the bogey-man would get us. Its been a long wait, but he's finally shown up with four of his friends, in full drag.

Together with sex, death and violence, Alice Cooper appears to be hitting the headlines with alarming regularity, stirring up the kind of heated controversy that can only help to further his legend. Already his name has been brought up in Parliament and denounced by the clergy; just the stuff of which teenage heroes are made.

The fact remains that, aside from his best-selling records, the mainstay of Cooper's British legions have been solicited for the most part on the strength of the printed word and exaggerated word-of-mouth notoriety. In the face of such concentrated success, it has to be said that only a few thousand have ever seen Alice perform on a British stage.

In the three years that have elapsed since his emergence, Alice has transformed his image from that of a tongue-in-cheek transvestite to the abitrator of stark black comedy and every conceivable neurosis.

Whether it be a sea of bubbles, clouds of smoke, a straightjacket or with a dustbin over his head. Alice serenades the masses with delightful ditties about dead babies, school and getting laid. When wielding a sword, a serpent, or an axe with which he hacks barbie dolls to pieces, he gets into a rumble, is electrocuted and finally hung, all in the glorious name of rock and roll. By the way of an encore, Alice does a quick resurrection fob in white top hat and tails, asks to be elected for President and sings, "We've still got a long way to go".

But just how far does Alice Cooper intend to push his image, "As far as possible", he offers, "it is my intention to progress into total environmental theatre, where nobody can get away for the simple reason that they are part of the concept, they are what's going on".

Despite what most people might think, there are two distinct faces of Alice Cooper. In private, Alice is just one of the lads, who if pushed could probably drink most of us under the table. When caught in the brilliant glare of the spotlight . . . decadent, depraved and degenerate. Yet, while continuing to outrage public decency, turn the strongest stomachs and spread acute paranoia throughout society, this ghoulish perpetrator of seemingly bad taste, carefully avoids falling foul of his own shock devices. However, you've got to watch your step, 'cause Cooper will immediately stop you dead in mid-sentence should you use the word 'Bad Taste'.

"Believe me, there's no such thing as bad taste nowadays", he puts forward, in the same way he insists that the Mad Alice part of his personality is primarily just healthy release, a burlesque, "really nothing more than a mirror", he cheerfully explains, "which I place in front of an audience to reflect the very darkest side of human nature.

"The thing is, I know and they know that Alice is in fact what's really hiding inside most of them, but in the enviable position to do things that they can't do. That's the reason the react so physically to the act."

Album Discography

"Pretties For You" (Straight Records. STS.1051)
released: November 1969.
"Easy Action" (Straight Records. STS.1061)
released: May 1970.
"Love It To Death" (Straight Records. STS 1065)
released: August 1971.
re-released: September 1972. New catalogue number. (Warner Bros. K.46177)
"Killer" (Warner Bros. K.56005)
released: November 1971.
"School's Out" (Warner Bros. K.56007)
released: July 1972.