Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reissues of Alice Cooper's first two albums

The folks at Rhino Records are reissuing the first two Alice Cooper albums on CD on June 10th. The albums Pretties For You (1969) and Easy Action (1970) were quirky low-budget recordings that were originally released on Frank Zappa’s Straight label. Both had previously been available on CD from the Enigma label, which has been defunct for over a decade.

Alice Cooper was the band name in the beginning; lead singer Vincent Furnier later took the name for himself when he went “solo” in 1975. Although the original band did not yet become masters of shock rock when the first two albums were released, they had already achieved a different type of notoriety. Zappa signed them to his label for the opposite reason that most artists get signed: they had a rep for clearing out the venues in which they played, and Zappa admired them for it.

On the debut album Pretties For You, Alice and company gleefully explored bizarre musical ground that he/they never revisited. Whenever I have played the album for friends, they have said, “This is Alice Cooper?”. The debut is an intriguingly strange freeform hodgepodge of British Invasion-style pop rock, progressive rock, psychedelia, and Zappa-like weirdness. The 13 tracks alternately sound like rougher-edged mutations of the Beatles, Byrds, Who, King Crimson and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. It’s pretty cool stuff.

Easy Action is also a cool album. It’s a bit more cohesive and conventional than Pretties For You, and a bit less interesting. Although it retains some of the weirdness of its predecessor (mainly in the Zappa-like oddity of "Still No Air" and the prog-rock noodling of "Lay Down and Die, Goodbye"), this album shows the band moving toward its better-known style of basic rock, which is probably the reason that many people prefer it to Pretties. The most surprising track is “Beautiful Flyaway”, a nicely Beatlesque ballad sung by guitarist Michael Bruce. It showed evidence of technical progress and, sure enough, the Alice Cooper band hit the big time the following year with their third release, Love It To Death.


Rarebird's Alice Cooper Reviews
http://rarebird9.net/alicecooper.html