New Musical Express

Originally Published: September 07, 1974

Alice's absurd achievements

Alice Cooper:
"Alice's Cooper Greatest Hits"
(Warner Brothers)

Music was never much more than a peripheral interest for this bunch of theatrical con-artists - after all, the early seventies' audience was disillusioned to the extent that cynical opportunism had no need to masquerade as anything saleable. It was a viable commodity in itself.

All the more surprise then that - as well as managing to bring off a workable blend of the slick, the gross, and the witty in their general presentation.

Alice Cooper also found the energy to churn out a handful of minor rock gems on the side.

They're all here, making "Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits" the first A.C. album actually worth buying (with the possible exception of "Billion Dollar Babies", although the best stuff from that record turns up on this release anyway).

Side One features the standout tracks from "Love It To Death" ("I'm Eighteen", "Is It My Body") and "Killer" ("Desperado", "Under My Wheels" and "Be My Lover"), plus "School's Out", from the album of the same name. "Eighteen" and "Wheels" justify themselves as singles, but sound pretty rough now; the others are all stage-raves, and pretty drab in record - except for "School's Out", the band's first sizeable British hit, and a genuine classic.

"Love It To Death" and "Killer" are lousy albums, and the "best" of them is definitely a relative proposition - but "School's Out", albeit the most sprawling self-indulgent LP the band cut, nevertheless contains some better songs ("Alma Mater", "Public Animal") which might have replaced say, "Is It My Body" and "Be My Lover". Aesthetics, as usual, bow to nostalgia - but it's a minor complaint and, anyway, the compilation as a whole is pretty intelligent.

Side Two is good all the way through (except for the turgid "Teenage Lament '74", featuring the most expensive inaudible girlie back-up chorus off all time - Liza Minelli, Labelle, Ronnie Spector, and The Point Sisters): four tracks from "Billion Dollar Babies" - "Hello Hurray" (the best composition they ever used), "Elected", "No More Mr Nice Guy", and the title cut - plus "Lament" and "Muscle Of Love".

The "Babies" tracks show the group "finding" themselves in their playing and writing by using The Who as a focus and forgetting most of that "West Side Story" schmear. "Muscle Of Love", from their last, rather flaccid, "success phase" LP, remains a great rocker and closes the album out in a haze of steam and sweat.

Pacific Eye And Ear have encased all this in Cooper's usual grinning over-kill sleeve - except that this time around it's actually reasonably tasteful. Seems we all have to grow old sometime.