Tag Archives: alice cooper

September 13th 1975

Went to work hungover. Got Alice Cooper posters for Neville. In the evening “wrapped” Nobby’s ‘present’

There was DRINKING at the school party?

Where all the students would have been under the age of 18?

How could this happen? I blame the teachers! I blame the Coffee Club committee!

I blame the pub round the corner from the college and its lackadaisical attitude to underage drinking.

No wonder I ‘got off with Holly C’ yesterday?!! I was full of dutch courage!

In other news it looks like I was able to snaffle some promo Alice Cooper posters for my friend Neville. If I was a betting man I’d say they were promos for Alice’s then-just-released “Welcome to my Nightmare” LP, his contribution to the whole “concept album” genre that was rife at the time. It dealt with the nightmares of a child named Steven (no relation), a grim tale which later turned into a stage show that was ahead of its time in terms of theatrics, lighting and special effects.

I never really cared that much for the album. It didn’t seem to have the same catchy punches that Alice’s previous albums had and felt a little too ‘macabre’ for my personal tastes. Yes, I felt there were levels of ‘macabre’ in Alice Cooper’s music. I was evidently a deeply troubled child.

Only two tracks really stood out to me and they were the very two that stood the test of time.

The title track “Welcome to my Nightmare” is a brooding masterpiece, the slow start leading to a funky rhythm even Steely Dan would be proud of. In one of TV’s weirdest moments Alice would later perform the track with The Muppets.

The other ‘killer cut’ is “Only Women Bleed” a song which really only came into its own a few years later. Whilst Alice’s own version of this ballad (about a woman in an abusive relationship) was indeed admirable, it took actress Julie Covington to really set the song alight in 1978.

Julie Covington was a minor National Theatre and Opera performer before she got her big break as one of “The Little Ladies” in TV’s 1976 bizarre musical drama “Rock Follies“… about which I know I will write much more later.

That led to her being invited to sing the lead role in Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber‘s extravagant musical “Evita“. She contributed to the soundtrack but refused to perform the role of  Eva Perón on stage, leaving assured stardom to beckon for her replacement Elaine Page.

Her performance on “Evita” led to a proper recording contract with Virgin Records and her titular debut album came out in 1978, preceded by her stellar version of Alice’s “Only Women Bleed”. I don’t think she ever had a finer recorded moment?!

I have no memory of what the present was I seem to be preparing for Nobby’s imminent 18th birthday. As I know he is a regular reader of, and comment contributor to, EFA70sTRO  I will leave him to reveal the secret… as I am sure his brain cells are somewhat less addled than mine?!

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under 1975 Diary Entries

April 15th 1975

“Nigel C came round in evening”

Nigel C – as opposed to Nig – was a college chum who shared a few classes with me at Barton Peveril. He also lived in Fair Oak.

We didn’t have the hugest amount in common until I found out that he too was a music freak, in particular a massive – and somewhat rabid – fan of Marc Bolan & T.Rex.

We soon started swapping albums with one another, duly bootlegging taping the ones we particularly liked. He turned me onto more Bolan stuff than I had previously listened to whilst I had him enjoying the likes of Alice Cooper, Cockney Rebel, Be Bop Deluxe and more. He never got on with much of my Prog stuff, but was all over the glam material.

We eventually became great friends and he even became a flat mate of mine in later years, a period when we laughed a whole hell of a lot together. Sadly we lost touch over 15 years ago and all attempts to try to contact him via shared acquaintances have hit a brick a wall. I often wonder what he’s up to these days, especially whenever a T.Rex cut shuffles its way to my ears on my i-Pod.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1975 Diary Entries

May 9th 1973

“Caught F.Oak coach home illegally. Borrd Billion Dollar Babies off of Jackie S. Went up Gra’s in the evng. saw his new addition – Garrard SP25 III (G800).  Borrowd Gemini Suite & Book of Tailisyn, lent him Focus 3,”

Good lord, there’s so much going on – and to write about – in today’s diary entry…

Let’s tackle it in order shall we?

By a matter of living just a few hundred yards outside a government-prescribed zone – I am not making this up – I was denied the opportunity of catching a scheduled coach home from school each day. Instead – and as if to somehow verify my ‘prolitariat’ status – I was forced to wait with the hoi-polloi for a regular bus service each day.

By contrast, friend who lived just a few blocks away from me in  , were ferried home in a clean air-conditioned coach. Bastards.

However, every so often I either just sneaked onto the coach (prepared to claim ‘ignorance’ if I was caught out) or was able to borrow somebody’s coach pass. (In those days, I.D.’s rarely came included photos). Seems as if today was one of those days.

Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies” is not an album that has really sat with me over the ensuing years.

Indeed, it only has 4 tracks that I continue to adore.

The title track, Billion Dollar Babies – duet between Alice and Donovan – sounds far more ethereal on record than it does in this live performance, but – like a lot of Alice’s stuff – is guitar-riff laden.

No More Mr Nice Guy” is a Stones-esque basic rocker which proves that Alice is not adept at maintaining a falsetto voice.

Hello, Hooray” sounds like it may have been recorded for his School’s Out album sharing lots of the same style and feel – maybe no accident it is the opener?

Best of them all, however, and only marginally below “School’s Out” as my favourite Alice track ever, is “Elected“. Written, probably, as some kind of rock’n’roll response to the whole Nixon/Watergate debacle, it simply screams along with utter hairbrush in mirror mime-ability…. not that I am saying I ever….. OK, yes I admit it. (It would be years until I caught that promo video for the song, and I remember laughing so hard the first time I saw the chimpanzee walk in with the wheelbarrow full of money)

Like so many albums of the era however, it is my memories of the sleeve that has remained with me the longest. The fold out cover was designed to look like a snakeskin billfold wallet – it even had rounded-off corners. When you open the cover out there was a loose 12″x24” “billion dollar bill” clipped inside  that featured a photo of the band and irreverent cartoons.

I’ll say it again – the advent of Compact Disc RUINED album artwork.

The Garrard SP25 Mk IIIwas – in 1973 – my hi-fi Holy Grail.

Especially when twinned with a Goldring G800 stylus. The exact package friend Graham apparently managed to acquire. Bastard.

More about this piece of kit when – as must happen somewhen – my diary tells me I bought my own.

I have talked about Deep Purple’s atrocious “Book of Taliesyn” before – indeed 26 years later I can’t imagine exactly why I would have borrowed it again? – but this is first mention of Purple’s equally dodgy “Gemini Suite”

So dodgy in fact that “Gemini Suite” has not flitted across my personal radar AT ALL in the interim years… years which include over 22 years of actually working in the music industry, and being asked for stuff!

I’ll admit I had to look the album up online to nudge any kind of even vague memory about it. Consequently, my research *ahem* ‘reminded me’ it was a piece of Jon Lord-composed music (performed by Deep Purple and an orchestra) which was commissioned by the BBC for a TV show highlighting the association between rock music and traditional classical material.

Yes, that sounds like it was some kind of train wreck. Finding this excerpt online however, suggest a train wreck may have sounded better?!

Somewhen in the past few months, it would appear that I bought Focus’ “Focus 3” album, a rambling double concept album. I threatened to buy it back in January, but opted for “Moving Waves” instead.

How weird that my diary never made mention of its subsequent purchase?

So as to save this post from falling off the edge of the planet due its length, please expect an incoming EFA70’sTRO  “aside’ to talk about it.

For which I duly apologise in advance.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1973 Diary Entries

February 14th 1973

*valentine* / “Got Bandstand – Family off of Martin S – It jumps as well – must be needle, gonna get a new one” / “carried on wiv jigsaw” / “went up nigs”

The word “valentine” was printed in the diary. I chose to highlight it by making it look as if it was exploding from the page.

Was this to somehow remind me? Crap, I wish I could remember. Did I send Angela a secret card? Did she send me one? Oh brain, why must you continue to taunt me this way!

I’ve already over-pontificated at some length about Family and my love for their compilation album “Old Songs, New Songs“.

Bandstand” – their sixth studio recording – is the only other album from the group that has really stayed with me in the interim 35 years. I think that was because – musically – it was something of a departure for them, being more mellow and mainstream than their prior releases.

The opening track was the hit single, Burlesque, which ranks as one my favourite Family tracks ever. It’s quite a standard rocker about drinking at a bar, but it cranks along at a marvelous pace and includes the fabulous lyric “Well, drinking and sinking, I’m feelin’ alright, right down to my snaky spat shoes

Burlesque reached Number 13 in the UK charts. An acoustic cut “My Friend the Sun” was chosen by the band’s record label as the follow-up single, but it (surprisingly) sunk without trace. A big shame. It’s a beautiful little ballad with Chapman’s usual sheep warble contained.

Coronation” became a fan favourite for years to come – and I can remember it was this track that skipped, as a result of what I was quickly suspecting was a duff needle. We always called it a needle in those days, even though the correct name was a stylus. In fact, years later when my Dad’s CD player started going wrong and he tried to fix it, he called the laser a “needle”.. much to my amusement.

Along with the contents, I was probably equally drawn to the LP because of its magnficent die cut sleeve which was shaped like a a vintage TV set. The photos below give a much better idea of how it was done than any description I could give.
 

It felt like something very special. Moreso than Alice Cooper’s paper knickers inside School’s Out or even the Rolling Stones’ infamous “Sticky Fingers” cover. 

Bandstand became one of the hundred or so vinyl albums I have kept and moved across the world with me! (So it must be special, right?)

Leave a comment

Filed under 1973 Diary Entries

Number Ones of 1972 (Part 3)

… [continued from Part 2]

“…… and they called it Puppy Luuuuuuuuuuuurve” was a Number One call to arms for fresh-faced Mormon superstar teenager Donny Osmond.

1972 really was the year of Osmond-mania in the UK, when the family troupe, The Osmonds (put together as a “white” answer to the Jackson 5)  – especially photogenic teen idol Donny – created abject hysteria amongst young impressionable girls wherever they went. Think “The Jonas Brothers on steroids” and you might get an idea of the screamy-girly public craziness?

Puppy Love” was written in 1960 by Paul Anka for Annette Funicello, an actress/singer he was having an affair with. His own version went to Number 2 in the USA, but it has since been totally eclipsed by Donny’s more populist version.

His plea of “someone help mehelp meplease” was always a moment of cringe-worthiness whenever I heard it. Little did I know then that my future wife was squealing with joy at precisely the same line!

The follow-up Number 1 to Donny was the anarchic School’s Out by Alice Cooper, a song already discussed at some depth (here and here) within this blog.

My good friend Simes, a.k.a “Rockin”, remains a huge fan of Alice Cooper to this day, going to see him live in concert whenever he’s appearing within driving distance of the South of England.

Sometimes Rockin’ takes his eldest daughter with him. Her name is… Alice.

I wonder if the pair of them have ever seen this version of School’s Out with The Muppets? (I wonder also if that clip makes more sense on drugs?)

Taken from his second solo album “Never a Dull MomentRod Stewart‘s “You Wear it Well” was, perhaps, one of the year’s more über-credible Number 1’s.

Most people forget that in the early 70’s Rod Stewart had two musical careers running simultaneously. Not only was he  solo artist in his own right, he was also lead singer for The Faces.

Whilst The Faces material was, by and large, “sloppy rock and roll” (magnificently done I might add), Rod’s own material was carefully crafted, produced and recorded. However, “You Wear it Well” appears to straddle both sensibilities, the keyboards and Rod’s careful lyrics noisily overwhelmed by Ronnie Wood’s fabulous guitar licks.

Rod, by himself, and with the Faces would continue to record and tour until 1975 when the band, citing the time-honoured tradition of “musical differences”, split up and everyone went separate ways. I think it was common knowledge that most members of the Faces held deep resentment for how Rod concentrated on his solo work.

Of all my minor musical “heroes” of the 70’s, Rod is the one who has really let me down the most. Whilst his whole ‘celebrity fixation” era – when he was with Britt Ekland and recorded things like “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?“- merely amused me, I feel he eventually started to waste that great gritty voice he possesses, none moreso than with the recent ” Great American Songbook” series of albums.

Slade had a second 1972 Number 1 single with “Mama Weer All Crazee Now“, taken from their album “Slayed?“, often considered their greatest studio album.

Since 1972 this screamy rocker has been covered by such diverse acts as Quiet Riot, The Runaways and….. The James Last Orchestra!

Last covered it along with “Silver Machine“, “School’s Out“, “(The Theme from) Shaft” and Gary Glitter’s “Rock & Roll, Part 2” on his 1973 album “Non Stop Dancing ’73” which must’ve been the soundtrack to THE worst swinging party EVER?!

… [continued in Part 4]

1 Comment

Filed under 1972 Diary Entries, an aside, Asides on the 1970's, nostalgic ramblings

August 22nd 1972

“School’s out No 1 again”

OK, hands up who remembers that the sleeve of Alice Cooper‘s album of the same name opened up like a school desk and (initial copies at least) included a pair of paper girl’s knickers?

School’s Out stayed at Number 1 in the UK for 3 weeks before getting bumped by Rod Stewart’s “You Wear It Well“. Across the Atlantic it reached number 7 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Alice says he was inspired to write it by the fact that when you are a kid there are two defining moments in your life. One is Christmas morning and the second is that last day of school before the summer holidays. He figured there were already enough songs about the first, so he was going to try and encapsulate the second.

The boy done good!

Leave a comment

Filed under 1972 Diary Entries

August 20th 1972

“took mormor back to london” / “taped all the young dudes, silver machine, seaside shuffle and school’s out” / “coffee evening christine’s house”

My poor, poor Danish grandmother (mormor). She’s been staying with us for the past few weeks and I have mentioned her just the once before now… and that was tell my diary that she was “getting on my wick”. I guess we all should have been grateful she was no more problematic than that? I loved her dearly, but she could really be hard work sometimes!

Christine? Coffee evening? I don’t drink coffee so I’m not quite sure what I was referring to here. I don’t think its one of those cases of “would you like to come in for a coffee” we see in the movies, but I could be wrong?

Looks like I taped a few singles?…

All the Young Dudes – written by David Bowie to specifically give them a hit single – was (like many other people) really my significant introduction to Mott the Hoople.

The song is often referred to as a “glam anthem”, something which it can only be considered as such in retrospect. In 1972, it was ‘just’ another great pop song. Lead singer Ian Hunter is still going these days, his vocal style as distinctive now as it was in 1972. (Let me give a nod to Hunter’s fabulous description of “life on the road”, his biographical “Diary of a Rock & Roll Star“)

I spoke about Hawkwind just a few days ago. I’m still several months away from seeing them play live, but in the meantime their major hit “Silver Machine” would doubtless suffice.

Despite its sci-fi opening and lyrics, writer Robert “Completely Bonkers” Calvert has admitted that the song is something of a send-up of the whole space race stuff that was going on following man’s landing on the moon in 1969. It’s actually about his…. pushbike!

In subsequent years I always found it somewhat amusing to watch people trying to dance to “Silver Machine”. It’s FAR from a song that lends itself to any kind of body rhythms but time after time at “junior discos” at Hiltingbury Pavilion I would stand in one corner and watch people give it their best shot… and invariably fail miserably.

It was years afterwards that I discovered – mainly because the internet had not yet been invented – that this version of Silver Machine was recorded live at the same Greasy Truckers Party gig – and later overdubbed – as the other Hawkwind cuts on that album.

Seaside Shuffle was the solitary chart hit for Terry Dactyl & the Dinosaurs. This was a ‘nom de plume’ for the cult blues band Brett Marvin & the Thunderbolts, the lead singer of which was Southampton-born John Lewis, who (are you reading this, trivia freaks?) later became MUCH better known as Stiff recording artist JonaStop the CavalryLewie

Although very much a throwaway pop song, the lyrics reverberate with me now… “It’s a warm day, the sun is shining, someone says let’s go to Brighton”…… *sigh*, if only Mr Dactyl, if ONLY!

The single reached Number 2 in the UK charts. A year later the fake band’s follow-up scraped Number 45 – ‘Nuff said!

I truly believe “School’s Out” to be one of the best – and anarchic – pop songs of all time, and most certainly Alice Cooper‘s finest contribution to the world of Rock’n’Roll.

The refrain “No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks” is as fierce – at least in my opinion – as anything the much later punk era produced. School’s Out is TRULY an anthem – and one for every subsequent generation it would seem, the song as popular and well-known now as it ever was.

By the way, I would hate for people to think that I only ever taped stuff. As I am sure future diaries will attest, I did get the “vinyl buying bug”, and in a very major way. I do know I subsequently purchased a lot of the singles I first taped, but usually waiting until they had dropped out of the Top 40 and were available cheaply (10-20-30p) from Jack Hobbs, my local music retailer… about whom I shall undoubtedly speak more of in later posts.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1972 Diary Entries