Thursday, March 27, 2014

Music Review - Alice Cooper - Ladies Man / Science Fiction / Freak Out Songs

In general when it comes to live albums I just don't like 'em. Ditto for live music. Give me the carefully crafted, detailed, layered nuances of the studio and I'm a happy man. But every now and then live music will affect me like nothing else. This album is not one of those instances.

This album goes under many, many names*. I knew it as Ladies Man and Freak Out Songs. The reason it has so many monikers is because it is an unauthorized recording of the 1969 Toronto show where someone threw a chicken onto the stage (apparently there was no additional charge for livestock) and city slicker Vinnie, seeing a bird, threw it back to the audience thinking it would fly away. Instead it fell with a plop and the peace loving hippies proceeded to tear the formerly living chicken to pieces.

But that isn't on the album.

Instead we get eight messy, live tracks, mostly versions of songs off their Pretties For You album. As I stated before, I'm not a fan of live music and don't intend to review the live album recorded at Sammy Hagar's club (though I'll probably do The Alice Cooper Show) but this album has a certain historicity and loose charm that I feel merits a post. Which is to say that despite my dislike of live albums, this one kinda grew on me. The band is anything but tight but are rather experimental, perhaps the influence of Zappa. But they're enjoying finding themselves and it's fun to tag along.

There are two songs that don't appear until decades later on the Rhino box set. "Freak Out Song" (a.k.a. "Don't Blow Your Mind") is a very early song from when the band was known as The Spiders. The recording I have has Vince sounding drunk or perhaps the tape is slowed down. In any case, it isn't good.

The real winner on the album is "Nobody Likes Me." One of their first forays into theater rock, Vince would sit behind and sing through an open double hung window, being that lonely kid looking out at a world that doesn't like him and won't play with him. They even hate his dog Spot. The song itself is very catchy, almost like a bent nursery rhyme, with the rest of the band angrily singing back against this pathetic soul in call and answer fashion.

Rank: True Cooper Fans Only

* A full list can be found here.

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