There are some albums I can never figure out why the hell I picked it up, other than being a dumb stupid teenager. This album falls totally in that group. This album is made up of the two MCA Alice Cooper albums. Those would be 1986's Constrictor which I have covered in great detail, so I'll just be copying and pasting those write-ups into here. The other songs come from 1987's Raise Your Fist And Yell, which oddly I have never reviewed. It's one of my favourite albums. Then there's one live track, which I'll get to shortly.
The compilations title track is one of those songs I have a love/hate relationship with. As an adult I find it very well written and executed. It really is a well done song, with a cool guitar solo too. As the kid who heard it for the first time when it came out in 1987, I thought it was boring and bland. It didn't rock hard enough for me. But really, it's a good song. I still have no issues skipping it at any second, though. In fact this is the only song on Raise Your Fist And Yell that doesn't give me little tingles every time I hear it.
Roses On White Lace is one of my top five Alice Cooper songs of all time. I mean this song is just the most amazing example of why Alice Cooper is easily accepted as Metal. I mean this song is just totally bad ass Metal. It's the horror story of blood and violence that those insane censor hungry parents were trying to warn everyone about, and Alice enunciated every syllable with crystal clarity. This was one of those moments where it was the truest most pure form of Alice Cooper as the master of shock, and then going one step further. If this song had come out in the 1970's all hell would have broken loose. "I saw you wedding gown/The prettiest dress/I came into the room that night/And made such a mess/In my own way, I lovingly kiss the bride/With your ring in your hand/Your eyes and your mouth open wide/In my eyes/Blood drops look like roses on white lace/They won't wash away/In my mind they're roses on white lace/Straight from the heart/So dead upon the bed/You hurt me in the deepest way/I'm crippled inside/I took your evil skin away/It's all cut and dry/I saw you tonight and carefully took your hand/With some smears on my cheeks/I knew that you would understand/In my eyes/Blood drops look like roses on white lace/They won't wash away/In my mind they're roses on white lace/Straight from the heart/So dead upon the bed, still searching for your head/They're never gonna find your face/It's hidden away/I found a very special place for you used to play/In my own way, I lovingly kiss the bride/With your ring in your hand/Your eyes and your mouth open wide/In my eyes/Blood drops look like roses on white lace/They won't wash away/In my mind they're roses on white lace/Straight from the heart/Blood drops look like roses on white lace/Crimson and sweet, stained on the sheet/Roses on white lace, pretty in red, dripping and wet/Roses on white lace, spilled on the walls, dark in the hall". Oh yeah, the music makes yours truly feel like a pathetic wannabe everytime I pick up an instrument.
A big lightning strike and a wicked awesome guitar barrage open up this album, which then moves into a solid paced Hard Rock riff. Teenage Frankenstein, is a song that is meant to appeal to a younger audience, at least in concept, and as the "Weird Kid" it was kind of a theme song for me. The first verse for example sets up the idea, "I'm the kid on the block / With my head made of rock / And I ain't got nobody / I'm the state of the art / Got a brain a la carte / I make the babies cry / I ain't one of the crowd / I ain't one of the guys / They just avoid me / They run and they hide / Are my colours too bright / Are my eyes set too wide / I spend my whole life / Burning, turning", but the second verse drives home a mentality I still carry to this day. "Got a synthetic face / Got some scars and a brace / My hands are rough and bloody / I walk into the night / Women faint at the sight / I ain't no cutie-pie / I can't walk in the day / I must walk in the night / Stay in the shadows / Stay out of the light / Are my shoulders too wide / Is my head screwed on tight / I spend my whole life / Burning, turning". You can remove the teenage part of the song and it still fits for so many people I know, including myself.
Constrictor ends with He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask). As I already mentioned, this was the theme from Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. As a kid I loved this song so much more than I do now, and the main reason is due to all the keyboard work on this song. As a kid I thought it was really cool, and I still think it sounds awesome, but now a days I'd much rather hear more guitar instead. The cool part is how well the lyrics sum up the concept of the movie, right down to the "baby." "You're with your baby / And you're parked alone / On a summer night / You're deep in love / But you're deeper in the woods / You think you're doin' alright / Did you hear that voice / Did you see that face / Or was it just a dream / This can't be real / That only happens, babe / On the movie screen / Oh, but he's back / He's the man behind the mask / And he's out of control". I would still love to see Alice perform this song live, because it is wicked cool and the only song from this album he ever breaks out. But, sadly he only breaks it out for the Swedish. That might have something to do with it being a number one hit there, and they didn't even get the movie at the time.
The main reason I can think of as to why I bought this album is for Billion Dollar Babies, and the fact that it's marked as being recorded in 1976. Not really much of a good reason, but at this moment in time I'm looking at it a little differently. If the year is right, that means most likely it was Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter playing guitar. I mention this because very sadly Dick passed away recently, and I consider myself blessed for getting to meet him and hear him play live in a very intimate setting. So now I'm listing to this song and paying very careful attention to the solo, and thinking, oh hell yeah. For this little treasure, as long as it is Wagner, I'm very happy to have this silly little album now.
Lock Me Up has a killer drum opening, and is yet another reason I love Raise Your Fist And Yell so much. Spoken, "Alice Cooper/You have been accused of mass mental cruelty How do you plead?/Guilty!" Then the singing starts, "Don't wanna be clean / Don't wanna be nice / The whip's gonna crack / My leather is black and so are my eyes / I'm gonna be rough / I'm gonna be mean / I'm here to the end, my sick little friend / I'm back in your dreams / You can take my head and cut it off / But you ain't gonna change my mind / If you don't like it you can lock me up / Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh, / If you don't like it you can lock me up / Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh, / Cover your eyes or cover your head / You'll never know what hit you 'til your covered in red / Screaming bloody murder 'til the barricades bend / Sweatin' in the fog 'til the end / It's gotta be loud / I want it to roar / I want it to blow everyone at the show right off of the floor / I'm in for the kill / I'm back with a rage / I want them to write in the paper each night how I bloodied the stage / If you don't like it you can lock me up / Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh, / If you don't like it you can lock me up / Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh, / Lock me up or shut up / Cover your eyes or cover your head / You'll never know what hit you 'til your covered in red / Screaming bloody murder 'til the barricades bend / Sweatin' in the lights 'til the end / If you don't like it you can lock me up / Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh, / If you don't like it you can lock me up / I wanna be hot / Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh, / If you don't like it you can lock me up / I wanna be cool / Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh, / If you don't like it you can lock me up / I wanna be sick / Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh -real sick". Then there's the music. At the core it's a bit of the basic Metal, but when you pay attention to the speed that's really going on in this track you can't help but wonder why this album didn't do better, and the simple answer is that it was ahead of it's time. Seriously, this album was a fully digital masterpiece. It was one of those albums that reminds you why Alice is The Master.
Simple Disobedience is one of those songs that is just as relevant today as it was twenty-five years ago, maybe even more so today. "Now all your complex little schemes that form your master plan / Are scrambled up and that is something you just don't understand / A cyclone of confusion rips right through your holy troops / The very thing that weakens you gives power, gives me juice / And all the hungry outlaws have taken up a stance / Simple disobedience / Yeah, all the hungry outlaws have taken up a stance / Simple disobedience / Take your laser microscope and try to find an answer / No antidote or drug to cure our special strain of cancer / It spreads its revolution wide from cell to cell to cell / Your kingdom's like your body, it dies and goes to hell". Now even with all this raw anger waiting to spill out, it's the guitar work that really makes this song powerful. Kane Roberts' fills, and just general playing is so mean. This was a great way to end side one of the cassette, or vinyl picture album (I still own this one).
Thrill My Gorilla, is one of those songs I don't know how to take. "Sukie honey, weren't you right there with me / I seem to remember chasing you from tree to tree / Those prehistoric nights are coming back to me / We must have been the first / To go down in history / Where were you when the monkey hit the fan / Thrill my gorilla / Where were you when monkey turned to man / Thrill my gorilla / We lay on our skins, original sins / Ah, ah, ah, ah yeah / We touch, we feel / We scream, we squeal / Thrill my gorilla / Thrill my gorilla". Clearly you can't take this song serious, but at the same time you kind of want to. To be honest I would have loved to have heard the Ramones do a cover of this one. This song has their type of vibe to it.
As a kid Life And The Death Of The Party had little to no meaning to me. As an adult I love this song. It's so dark and beautiful. This is truly a Love Metal song, and could easily be Goth Metal, if say Type O Negative had covered it. "You walk into the room, everybody stares / The talking stops, there's a silence there / The room is yours, you own it now / You're in control and everybody down here knows / You got a place in my heart, I don't want you there / But you come and you go, like a millionaire / You take a walk right across my soul / You're in control and everybody down here knows / You're the life and the death of the party / You got my heart right by the throat / You're the life and the death of the party / When the stage lights rise / You start and stop the show / You love me bad, you love me good / You're unimpressed, that's understood / I lost it all, you knew I would / You're in control and everybody down here knows / You're the life and the death of the party / You got my heart right by the throat / You're the life and the death of the party / With your head held high /You start and stop the show / It's just one night / It's just one time / It's just one hotel room / It's just another dream / That can't come true / You're the life and the death of the party / You got my heart right by the throat / You're the life and the death of the party / When the stage lights rise / You start and stop the show". Aside from the part about "being in my heart" and not wanting them there, I would say that this song also reminds me of a certain editor I know, but not in the negative context that it seems to be protrayed here. Like I said this song is Love Metal.
Freedom is the lead off track from Raise Your Fist And Yell, and it did it's job perfectly. It really gets the blood pumping and energy flowing. It's not one of my faves from that album, but it is a really good song on this album. But it brings me to the perfect ending for this album's review.
See, the biggest problem with this album is the way it is put together, the track order is silly, and considering this an album released in the age of the compact disc, it could have easily had one more track added to it for better balance. It should have went five tracks, Billion Dollar Babies, then five more tracks. Then there's the track list, as you can tell from some of the copy and paste these tracks are in completely different order. I do think Freedom should have followed Billion Dollar Babies to lead off the second side and Life And Death Of The Party could have easily been the closer. However, I notice as I keep trying to arrange the tracks on this album, it's almost impossible to put these in any great order. Most of these tracks worked best in their order on their respective albums. Which means this album is great in a mix, but not so good as a solo play.
As a quick last thought, I love the production on the Raise Your Fist And Yell material, and would rate it very highly, but the live track, plus the Constrictor material has me holding it at seven, just because I won't use decimal points. So, you can hear the production as seven point five.
8/10 - content
7/10 - production
6/10 - personal bias