1973, Music

Billion Dollar Babies (1973) by Alice Cooper

Though I have known of Alice Cooper the man for most of my life, this is my first Alice Cooper album (band or man). As you might imagine, I’m a bit surprised.

The music is very middle-of-the-road American hard rock music from the early 1970s, albeit it produced by Bob Ezrin (i.e. there are lots of non-rock instruments). I know Ezrin well and I knew that his work with Alice Cooper led to his work with Lou Reed and KISS (and Pink Floyd, though that was really his work with Lou Reed) but something about seeing footage of Cooper perform made my mind assume something different – darker, less accessible – than what I get here. (This is their biggest record, I believe, so maybe earlier or later records are different.) Fortunately, Ezrin’s production isn’t as out of control as it would be later on and, moreover, it actually fits with the band’s music which, though being very much rock and roll, seems to benefit from showy, over-the=top arrangements.

Cooper’s lyrics are better than I imagined. I don’t know why I figured they wouldn’t be – I have seen or read countless interviews and interview segments with him over the years and he always struck me as intelligent for a rock musician (the “shock” rockers always are) but for some reason I had low standards.

But on the whole this fails to move me: the production is over-the-top but not crazy enough to be interesting and though the band Alice Cooper is good – more than competent – they’re not incredible. And though I enjoy some of Cooper the man’s lyrics, his provocative lyrics do feel like the kind of lyrics written to piss off parents in 1973, and some of those just haven’t dated that well in 45 years. (Also, I kind of wish he had fully committed to the provocation and really gone for the moon in terms of offending parents.)

This is very well made (better than I figured) and there’s literally nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t make me want to listen to another record of theirs.


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