Originally Published: March 03, 1973
ALICE COOPER: "Billion Dollar Babies" (Warner Bros).
Superficially, Alice Cooper's appeal is to the man who shoves his way to the front from the back of a crowd inquiring tersley: "What's going on!"
Nothing has interested the gent up to the present time, but, some geezer's messing about with a snake up there, and I want to see it. Get out of the way! Well, they are a sensational band - in terms of success and the way they have gripped a section of the public's imagination. This is their most elaborate album project to date and is the basis of the stage show they are to take with them around America. In the past various artists working in rock have attempted to fuse the effects and devices of the theatre but to date none has succeeded in achieving the impressive shock tactics Cooper employs. Musically they are fairly limited and apart from brilliant orchestration jobs like "Elected" with added horns, the players are called upon to supply suitably creepy background to the "he's right behind you," "Oh no he isn't," pantomine of "Billion Dollar Babies," and "Unfinished Sweet." The guitars and drums do a competent enough job. The lyrics and Alice's voice are the main strength, although the band demonstrate great skill in building atmosphere on the central part of "Unfinished Sweet," apparently about a dentist with the same interests as Tommy's uncle. Oddly, there is a similarity at times between Alice and Roger Daltrey - vocally speaking of course. It's strange, but when I first saw Alice at the Rainbow (apart from a glimpse of them third down the bill supporting Humble Pie in Philadelphia), my impression was they represented all that is plastic and phoney in society. But it seems they are in the vanguard of the fight against such phoniness, at least by the evidence of "Generation Landslide," on side two, one of the most interesting set of lyrics to appear since Townsend's "My Generation." You can read them all on the sleeve, but the gist seems to be knocking American motherhood for shopping in Woolworth's while people were starving in Korea, and warning of the awful revolt of babies to come with "Molotov milk bottles heaved from pink high chairs." There are twists and jokes a plenty in the lyrics, all celebrating with relish anything calculated to reverse the traditional standards of society. F'rinstance, "I Love The Dead," in which Alice tells of his forbidden passion "While friends and lovers mourn your silly grave, I have other uses for you darling." In the final analysis, the message is confussed and contradictory, but it emerges as expressing the horror and revolusion that only the intrinsically good and moral can feel. Let's face it, real necrophiliacs don't have much time for music. - C.W.