New York Newsday

Originally Published: July 20, 1997

Alice Cooper's Shock Just Turns to Shtick

Author: Steve Knopper

Maybe You remember Alice Cooper only as the guy who (allegedly) killed chickens and wrote songs about dead babies. One of the main functions of his second live album is to remind us that his work -- which was shocking when it was originally released -- is really funny.

Cooper sings on 1973's "Teenage Lament'74": "I can't get a girl 'cause I ain't got a car. I can't get a car 'cause I ain't got a job. I can't get a job cuz I ain't got a car. So I'm looking for a girl with a job and a car." As winking, lunkheaded rock and roll goes, this under-recognized Cooper classic is up there with the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated."

Cooper's new album "A Fistful of Alice," recorded last year at Sammy Hagar's Mexican cantina, doesn't bother with the arty pretensions or old-geezer coasting that have occasionally disfigured Cooper's career. It begins with the money: straight forward, well sung versions of his biggest hits, "School's Out" and "I'm Eighteen."

The dozen-song set, played before a few hundred customers, shows Cooper in an energetic mode, willing to please the crowd with the old stuff. Familiar and friendly is the 1975 ballad "Only Women Bleed" (with guest guitarist Slash) and the "Wayne's World" sound-track hit "Feed My Frankenstein."

Less succesful is "I Never Cry," which tries to mimic Cooper's friend John Lennon but comes across more like Barry Manilow, and "Welcome to My Nightmare," which doesn't seem quite as menacing as it did. Cooper's black leather pants may not be as sexy as they once were, and his eye makeup is sometimes indistinguishable from the lines on his face, but a solid rock band with a truly funny shtick never grows old.