New York Times

Originally Published: March 07, 1990

Cooper Resurgent

"One thing I've noticed is that you can't really shock an audience anymore," Alice Cooper said the other day. "When I started in 1970, it was before movies like 'Friday The 13th' and 'Nightmare On Elm Street' and the new generation of horror characters weren't around yet."

Until the success of his newest album , "Trash" (Epic), which has sold over a million copies, the career of the 42-year-old star, who practically invented theatrical shock-rock20 years ago, seemed in permanent eclipse. Mr. Cooper credits his resurgence to the new album's contemporary production by Desmond Child, who collaborated with him on most of the songs, as well as to his own competitive instincts and hard-won sobriety.

If the commercial turning point came for Cooper this past year, it is the payoff of an aggressive comeback attempt that began seven years ago when the star gave up alcohol.

"Alcohol had been such an important part of Alice's onstage formula that there was a period of time when I didn't know if the character would be able to exist without it," he recalled. "When I did my first show as Alice [cut] .ized that a feeling of fear could work as a kind of fuel. Now I got out of my way to make myself nervous before a show. Another incentive to keep going was watching MTV. I became jealous of the fact that other groups like Motley Crue were on MTV doing things that were influenced by Alice Cooper and in my opinion not doing them as well as we did."

Many of the songs on "Trash" deal with sex, a subject that until now has not been the center of Mr. Cooper theatrical rock. He chose sex as a theme, he said, because the AIDS epidemic made sex "the most dangerous thing in the 80's".

On Monday, Mr. Cooper and his band will play their New York concert since 1981. The show will offer a spectrum of Alice Cooper music from the last 20 years and bring back such famous Cooper stage props as the guillotine.

"There are a million new kids out there since the last major tour who haven't seen the guillotine who would love to see these classic bits of theater," Mr. Cooper said.

Mr. Cooper remains unashamedly proud of his subversive role in rock history.

"Not only were we not afraid to portray a little blood on stage, but we also didn't mind a little ultra-violence a la 'Clockwork Orange'," he said, referring to the Stanley Kubrick film. "I've always liked the idea that we were the band that drove the stake through the heart of the love generation."