Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Music Review - Alice Cooper - Zipper Catches Skin

Zipper Catches Skin came out in 1982 and is the second "black out" album that Herr Cooper doesn't remember writing or recording. Or producing. This time around instead of hiring some big name producer* Alice produced the album with his current bassist, Erik Scott. Bassist as in singular, which to me is a good sign. While I got lambasted** for my semi-negative review of Special Forces, I was preparing myself for a similarly negative review of this one as the two had become mingled in my brain. But once again I find that my memory is not reliable as a stinky second side has tainted my neurons concerning a strong first side. Strong, sez I, but not strong enough to have ever been performed live, per Wiki. Curious indeed.

While similar to Special Forces in musical style, Zipper finds Alice donning a broad variety of personalities and relying more on comical sarcasm. Dick Wagner returns with his impressive guitar playing and songwriting skills, also upping the ante. "Zorro's Ascent" is a galloping ditty with a ratty guitar sound and Cooper singing with a Spanish accent in the first person as Zorro. The first two notes and the guitar tone of "Make That Money" made me wonder if I was listening to "Eighteen" but instead it's a song from the viewpoint of Scrooge. 'Tis a good song, though, and even at times sounds like Alice Cooper Band era songwriting. The laid back "I Am The Future" was written for a movie*** and has a strong, memorable, uplifting melody and wonderful synth sounds later found in DaDa. "No Baloney Homosapiens" is another surprisingly strong song with excellent Wagner guitars and lyrics written to aliens that plead "Please don't eat us." "Adaptable" is a rock-based love song, choppy in a New Wave sense, with lines like "I would leave a craps table for you on a winning streak." It's not exactly Shakespeare but it's sweet.

Then it goes downhill. "I Like Girls"**** and "Remarkably Insincere" find Cooper being a total dog and very disrespectful toward women. Sure, he sings "Cold Ethyl" but these songs are especially callous. Cooper talks instead of sings in "Tag, You're It", painting scenes from a slasher movie*** similar to Halloween while "I Better Be Good" is a ragged New Wave rocker about performing well in bed with lots of slang not fit for mixed company*****. The final track, "I'm Alive", is a novelty song about his dead pet returning to save his life. The chorus is catchy but he speaks the verses that have a limited shelf life because one can only hear a joke so many times before it wears thin.

Rank: For True Cooper Fans/Completists only

* Look what that got them last time!

** Not really... just two guys on FB who said they really liked that album but "lambasted" is a word I don't get to use often enough.

*** Alice sure loves those movies!

**** There was something about the melody in the verse of "Girls" that nagged my ear until I finally figured out that it was from "The Ballad of John and Yoko."

***** Wrangler, huh?

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