I was watching the VH1 Classic channel today on cable. The series Metal Evolution produced and hosted by Sam Dunn, metalhead turned anthropologist produced lots of interesting video and interview footage.
My favorite interlude today was the episode “Early Metal U.S.” which focused on Detroit, Michigan’s influence on metal music, in particular the significance of Alice Cooper.
Alice Cooper was signed by Frank Zappa for his Straight Records label. They produced surreal, experimental rock theater set against one of the tightest sounding rock bands ever. The band consisted of of Vincent Furnier (Alice Cooper) on vocals and harmonica, lead guitarist Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce on rhythm guitar, Dennis Dunaway on bass guitar and drummer Neal Smith. They were a monster of a band you immediately respected.
The recording that set me on my ear with Alice Cooper was Love It To Death. The hit, “I’m Eighteen” epitomized the dichotomy of being at 18 years old, both a boy and a man. I liked the irreverence of the cover photo where Alice Cooper stuck his thumb through the front of his pants to resemble a cock. The album played through so well you ended up loving it to death every time you played it. My second favorite song was the “Ballad of Dwight Frye“, being a melodrama film fan, I thought it was so cool that a band would perform a song about an actor who spent much of his life in an insane asylum. If you contrast Dwight Frye’s actual existence with the character, Renfield that he played in the Universal Studios class, Dracula, art imitated life. Who can forget that the hospital worker says, “He’s crazy” when asked about Renfield’s behavior at the asylum.
- DVD Review: From Straight to Bizarre – Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper and LA’s Lunatic Fringe (blogcritics.org)
- Black Juju: Alice Cooper at his most evil, live 1971 (dangerousminds.net)
- ALICE COOPER Documentary In The Works (roadrunnerrecords.com)