Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Music Review - Alice Cooper - Trash
Let me back up a bit to 1989. I must have sent a SASE to Alice Cooper Fan Club or something or other because I received a postcard* telling me about the new Alice Cooper album. WHOO HOO! His last album, Raise Your First And Yell was an incredible splatter metal masterpiece and I was hungry for more! For the first time in my life I drove to Wooden Nickle Collectors Store on the album release date and laid down my money. I more than likely broke a few speed limits getting home but eagerly dropped the plastic platter into the tray of my Sony CD player. Huh? Where's the metal? Where's the gore? This song's about sex. And so's the next one. And what the heck's this? A ballad? I thought he said "No more ballads**!" I felt betrayed. I gave it a few more listens over the next few days which confirmed that these were generic, glossy hair band songs that contained next to no Cooperisms, that these songs could have been written and recorded by Bon Jovi. In fact, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora were on the album as were members of Aerosmith. Why not bring back Liza Minelli? And the whole garbage heap was produced by hit-maker supreme Desmond Child. Now at the time I didn't really know these names, aside from Bon Jovi and Aerosmith, because I didn't care for their music***. This was not an Alice Cooper album, it was a Bon Jovi album with Alice singing. This album was... well, it was Trash! In the end I did the only honorable thing... I melted the CD in the microwave and videotaped it.
And so it has been for twenty five years until I started this series and realized that I needed to give the album another listen. Fortunately my library has a service where you can download three free songs a week (for keepsies!) and Trash was one of the options, so it cost me nothing to replace what I melted a quarter century prior****. Surely my eighteen-year-old self had been overly dramatic and overreacting by melting the CD. After all, it's my man, Alice Cooper, and a lot of people like this album. Clearing my palate, I did my best to set aside any judgements against Trash and to give it a virgin listen. I've been able to do this before and have, at times, been surprised to "discover" great music that I had previously written off*****.
But in this case I was spot on. It's still trash. There's a lot of sheen and money on these songs but they're just polishing up turds. I wish I was wrong but I have to call 'em like I hear 'em. As each new song started I would hope for the best but ultimately ended up wincing, knowing that these lame, bland songs are beneath Coopers full potential. Even the ballad isn't very good. So indistinct are these songs from one another that I won't go into any details except to say that "Hell is Living Without You" is almost halfway decent except for the whiney, slidey voice Cooper uses (on this any many other songs on the album) that is quite annoying.
I wish it were different, that I could rejoice in finding some great songs I had earlier dismissed, that my earlier disdain was just because I felt betrayed. But alas, the album is junk. I'm happy for Herr Alice, that this album allowed him to pad his retirement account and pay his bills and launch him into another round of popularity****** but as for me, I'll pass. For some reason, though, I think Alice agrees with me. Look at that album cover! Yeah, you hang your head in shame, Alice. You know this is beneath you.
Rank: For Mr. Joe Blow Bud Lite who goes to concerts and thinks he likes Alice Cooper but really only knows the hits.
* You younger readers might want to look up "SASE" and "postcard."
** See footnote here.
*** Bon Jovi, that is. I liked early Aerosmith and their "comeback" album Permanent Vacation.
**** And besides, I had paid my "right to own" money back in 1989 the record company lawyers should be satisfied.
***** The music of Mark Heard is a prime example.
****** Continuing the trend of the 80s to dust off popular seventies acts with a gloss of big-haired glam. Heart, Yes, Aerosmith come to mind. I'm sure there are others.