CD Reviews

Alice Cooper - 'Trash' / 'Hey Stoopid' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 09, 2014    
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The second coming of Cooper, using the sound of the day to make it work for him.

"Mistakes are part of the game. It's how you recover from them..."
(A. Cooper)

This was the comeback pinnacle for Alice Cooper; released in 1989 and written almost completely with hit machine Desmond Child and Diane Warren, plus blessed with help from Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, plus a certain Mr Steve Lukather; this was a big ticket when originally released.

Firstly there's that single; 'Poison' did better in some markets than 'School's Out', melding the sound of the day and Hair Metal to Cooper's bubblegum arch drama. And here it is, kicking things off, all present and correct and... aren't those drums thin? Okay, forget about the drums, this is a gloriously shameful sing-along. Having not heard 'Trash' since it came out, this affords good possibilities to take a second look away from the hoopla. And what this seems to be is an interesting hybrid, a battle between the modern sound and Cooper with no winners but bloodied noses all round. And so 'Spark In The Dark' attempts to be Cooper but is too scared to really go all out, whilst 'Only My Heart Talkin'' (with Tyler) provides all the synth strings and vocal posturing that a ginormoballad requires. Sambora soars in 'Hell Is Living Without You', which may have been an anodyne slowie otherwise and the other big track, the single entendre 'Bed Of Nails', has a gorgeous melodic chorus but a driving riff too; but it's not quite a successful melding of the two sounds. That award probably goes to 'This Maniac's In Love With You' with its funky, strutting line and throwaway chorus. Tied with the effortless title track, it's all simply cool and either Cooper doing Iggy Pop or Pop doing Cooper.

'Hey Stoopid' comes hard on the heels of Cooper's multi-selling, career-reviving 'Trash'. Desmond Child's excellence in song-writing was all over that and yet Cooper decided not use him. Big grapefruits? Well, as Malcolm Dome's illuminating liner notes states, Child was just too busy.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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But Cooper still seems to shrug off expectation, '...Stoopid' seems softer and more dramatic than 'Trash'. Of course the leadoff single 'Feed My Frankenstein' featured both Steve Vai and Joe Satriani duelling away on a simple, ├╝ber Cooper song with an almost Vaudevillian narrative feel and it also had that killer chorus. In fact, the guests came through a revolving door with Ozzy Osbourne and Slash on the gutter and glitter title track, Nikki Sixx also surfaced on '...Frankenstein' and Mick Mars appeared on the average mega ballad 'Die For You' which he also co-wrote. This ain't great and it ain't poor. You get the idea. It's got some special Cooper moments, the roll up, roll up of 'Dirty Dreams', with a sassy, Glammy, Cooper as Barnum and a sharp Hair Metal sense and warm Bluesy solo. 'Snakebite' is his attempt to revisit 'Trash'; hard, heavy, throwaway and gorgeously harmonic. Closer 'Wind-Up Toy' finishes the album proper on the boards, strutting and fretting behind the footlights, pianos and glacial guitars but with just a little grit on the pearl, it's classic Cooper.

'...Stoopid' is often overlooked and it's nice to see it in a photo-heavy package with bonuses; an almost identical 'Hey Stoopid', a rather funked up version of Hendrix's 'Fire' and 'It Rained All Night' which is so refreshingly warm and organic with organ stabbing in, narrative vox, coaxing riffs, that it's a wonder that it wasn't on the album. Peter Collins loosens up the sound and Cooper plays around in that beautifully.

Yes, these are not 'Welcome To My Nightmare' et al, but they are classy albums; the second coming of Cooper, using the sound of the day to make it work for him. Smart gent that Alice...

Steve Swift

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