Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Alice Cooper's Love It To Death is 40

 Alice Cooper - Love It to Death
Alice Cooper
Love It To Death
Rating: **** or **** 1/2

In 1971, the Alice Cooper band were just your average rock band trying to make it big. However, the band were doing something that people hadn't seen before or not enough of: theatrics in rock. Althoguh the Alice Cooper band were doing something that had been done previously by Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Arthur Brown, Alice and the gang were unpredictable. The band's third album, Love It To Death, is sometimes referred to as Alice's (and/or the band's) first great album. The album isn't just an important album to the heavy metal genre but probably music itself. Love It To Death catapulted Alice and the guys to rock super-stardom.

The Alice Cooper band originally formed a little before 1968 but had come up with the name Alice Cooper until that year. The band consisted of singer Alice Cooper (born as Vincent Furnier. Alice quickly earned his stage name due to the band's name. Around 1974, he legally changed it to Alice Cooper), guitarists Michael Bruce and Glen Buxton, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith. The band tried and write scary music while in shocking attire. In their early gigs, the band scared most of the audience away. This caught the interest of Frank Zappa, who signed the band to his Straight Records label in 1969. The band's first album, Pretties for You, wasn't well received then and still isn't today. The album was filled with trippy songs about nothing. The band tried again with 1970's Easy Action. Although the album was a slight improvement over the debut, it still wasn't good enough. In 1971, Straight Records was swallowed whole by Warner Brothers and signed the band as a result. In 1971, the band released Love It To Death.

"Caught In a Dream" starts off this classic album. The theme of the song is about fame and glory, although the Alice Cooper band may've not been experiencing this at this part in their career.  Perhaps that's where the lyric of "I'm right in between so I'll/ Just stick along with you" comes in. Still, it's ironic how most of this would happen with the success of this album."I'm Eighteen" is, of course, the hit single off the album. It's a song of rebellion and is one of those songs that a teenager can relate to and say "Yes! That's exactly how I feel!" "I'm Eighteen" is a anthem, in the same way the Who had in 1965 with "My Generation". "Long Way to Go" is an example of a great classic rock album track. Alice speaks highly of the song today and frequently plays it on his radio show. This is the song where the album gets its title from ("I guess I love it/Love it to death!"). "Black Juju" is the longest song on the album, clocking in at nine minutes. It's also one of Alice's creepiest songs. When the band plays this live, Alice usually does his hypnotizing act which is also done on the album. By the time your "asleep", Alice gives you a rude awakening when he yells "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!" "Is It My Body" questions one's attraction to Alice. There is a hint of humor in the song: a woman liking a man for his looks, rather than his personality. "Hallowed Be My Name" is another creepy song dealing with "cursing their lovers" and "cursing the bible". Judging by the title, the song has religion written all over it. "Second Coming" is, for me, my least favorite song off the album. Still, the song has great lyrics and has a very dark feeling. The next song, "Ballad of Dwight Fry", is my favorite song off the album. Dwight Frye was, of course, an actor that was in classic horror movies such as Dracula and Frankenstein. The song is being told by a character that Frye would've probably played. My favorite bit: Alice's rambling of "I want to get out of here". Picture that with him in a straight jacket. The album closes with the surprising melodic "Sun Arise". What a mellow way to end such a dark album.

Love It To Death is definitely in my top 200. Currently, it stays at #68. Love It To Death frequently appears on lists of the greatest albums ever. Without this album, there probably wouldn't have been no more Alice Cooper after two albums. With Love It To Death, the Alice Cooper band and the man known as Alice Cooper could continue their career. Without a doubt, Love It To Death is an essential album to the hard rock and heavy metal genres...and of course the sub genre known as shock rock.

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