Rock Scene

Originally Published: May 1987

Constrictor Review

Author: Dr. Rock

Alice Cooper
Constrictor
(MCA Records)

On the last day of eighth grade, some of my buddies and I had the bright idea of tapping in to the school PA system just before the bell rang and blasting "School's Out" throughout the school to celebrate our ascension to high school. It didn't come off, but it's nice to contemplate such dreams of glory while listening to Alice Cooper's latest LP, Constrictor. Everything I ever loved about Alice is in there.

Anyone who ever felt like a misfit loved Alice, 'cause when Alice was on, he was teenaged misanthropy, squared. And so it is again, right from the first lines of the LP opening "Teenage Frankenstein" – "I'm the kid on the block / With my head made of rock" – to the last line of "He's Back" – "He's out of control". In between is formula Alice. That's not a bad thing, like saying formula Boston, or like that. Alice's formula has always been surprise, outrage and lots of larfs set to a bruising beat. Who else would even think of singing "Where were you when the monkey hit the fan?" In fact the word 'Formula' might not ever be fair. "Classic" Alice might better sum it up.

Part of what makes this classic Alice, as opposed to the rest of his output in the last eight years or so, is that not only are the lyrics right on and hysterical ("The Great American Success Story" picks up where "School's Out" left off, and reminds me of my school days) the music has the bit of the Billion Dollar Babies band. The lamest of the music is "He's Back", with its wimpy synths, and lethargic tempo. Compared with the rest of the disc ,which comes off at a blistering groove, it's surprising Jason would even want to be associated with that sludge (it was the theme from Friday The Thirteenth, Part Two Million, Son of Jason Vs. the Maggot Men). Guitarist Kane Roberts is the best thing to happen to Alice in years, at least since killer axemen Dick Wagner of the Welcome To My Nightmare Band. He brings Alice back to the sort of rock and roll that has inspired a whole new generation of Alice clones (take that, Blackie and Dee). And if you were wondering why the new Ratt album sounded so dead in the water, it's probably because producer Beau Hill shot his wad on this one.

In short, no one could even attempt to do justice to a title like "You're the Life and Death of the Party" or "The World Needs Guts" (as graphic, nasty and funny as you'd exepct) except Alice. It's incredibly cool to have him back.