Tag Archives: Alice Cooper

I gotta get out of here

They say the wind chill could reach 40 below tomorrow. Maybe the next day, too.

It’s a flashback to 1972. We’d just moved. New house, new school, for the fifth time in nine years. Kids are resilient, but for me, that was the toughest move.

At 14, during my last year of junior high, I’d finally made it into a nice circle of friends. Not the popular kids, but a group you might call the class leaders. Got to know some girls. Got invited to a couple of parties. All innocent enough, yet trusted enough to not spill the beans when some of the basketball players drank too much at another kind of party.

Then, BOOM. I went from junior high in Sheboygan one week directly into high school near Wausau, 150 miles to the northwest, the next week. So much for freshman orientation.

Being the new kid and trying to make new friends again is hard enough. Then the temperature dropped out of sight for two weeks. Thus the flashback.

Even the radio — my constant companion — added to the isolation I felt. Part of it was navigating my way to a new home on the dial. The local FM radio station, top 40 during the day, free form at night, was quite different than AM Top 40, the only format I’d ever known.

The songs on the radio didn’t help.

Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.” America’s “Horse With No Name.” The Addrisi Brothers’ “We’ve Got To Get It On Again.” Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Downers, bummers, vaguely haunting, reflecting some kind of loneliness or loss, reinforcing a sense of isolation. Exactly where my head was at. I hear those songs today, and I still keenly feel what I felt during that bitterly cold winter of 1972. They aren’t among my favorites, save for one, Nilsson’s “Without You.”

Yet winter always gives way to spring. Track and field season started. I met a guy, my fellow team manager, who has been my friend ever since. We bonded over songs on the radio and lots of other things. More friends came along. More opportunities came along.

Better songs came along, too. I got the hang of FM radio, particularly the late-night free-form portion. But there was some adjustment necessary. As in the realization and acceptance that, all right, these are the kinds of songs they play on the radio now. Like this one.

“Halo of Flies,” Alice Cooper, from “Killer,” 1971. This is one of the first records I bought that first year in that new place. My copy still has the 1972 calendar that came with it.





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Filed under January 2019, Sounds

Politicians won’t steal this

A politician uses a popular song at a rally. The band, or the artist, objects.

It’s often a good story, but you wonder. How many campaign staffs even bother contacting bands to obtain the rights to use their music?

Seems like it might be more a case of begging forgiveness rather than seeking permission. Or, in many cases, simply seeing what you can get away with.

Those tactics apparently are so pervasive that there’s an online guide for performers: “What To Do When A Campaign Uses Your Recorded Music Without Permission.”

The first major overstep apparently was Ronald Reagan’s use of “Born in the U.S.A.” in 1984, to which Bruce Springsteen objected.

Donald Trump has offended the Rolling Stones and Queen and Neil Young and R.E.M. and Paul Rodgers and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Other repeat offenders: John McCain offended Van Halen, John Cougar Mellencamp, Heart, Jackson Browne, Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, Tom Petty and ABBA. George W. Bush offended Mellencamp, Petty and the band Orleans.

The members of Survivor pounce when someone uses “Eye of the Tiger” without permission. They’ve sued, or threatened to sue, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich and Kim Davis and Mitt Romney, among others, for doing so.

Special mention to two Wisconsin politicians. Paul Ryan offended Rage Against the Machine, saying he was a fan. Now that is quite an odd couple. Scott Walker offended the Dropkick Murphys. Join the club, fellas.

Though Republicans most often draw musicians’ ire, Democrats do, too.

For all those politicians, a timely reminder.

john prine 1st lp

“Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore,” John Prine, from “John Prine,” 1971.

Man, seeing this, I still can’t believe Alice Cooper wasn’t elected in 1972.

Which reminds me. My friend Timebomb Tom said “this Warren Zevon album cover makes me want to re-visit the Zevon-faked-his-own-death-and-really-is-Bernie-Sanders theory.”

warren zevon stand in the fire

Wish Zevon was still here to help us sort through the lawyers, guns and money.


Finally, our strongest endorsement …

My friend Larry Grogan dropped “Testify,” a powerful take on the issues of the day, over at his mighty Funky 16 Corners blog last week. Read his post. Listen to the mix. Register to vote. Larry says:

Brothers and Sisters … the time has come …

There’s a little more than three months until Americans head to the polls and make the decision that will determine how (or whether) this country moves forward.

This mix gathers together black artists from the worlds of soul, funk, gospel and rock, with songs that were created in response to oppression and racism (here in the U.S., Jamaica, the UK and Apartheid-era South Africa), crying out for an end to both and many of them asking not for separation, but for recognition, unity and progress.

Dig. That.


Filed under July 2016, Sounds

I’m (no longer) Eighteen

Last month, undecided about whether to go see Alice Cooper when he came to town, I wrote a post about that. I confessed that I’d passed on previous opportunities to see Alice, saying I was just a casual fan. Still, the consensus was that I should go. So I went last night.

I have to be honest with you. It was one of the most disappointing shows I’ve seen in a long time.

Please don’t think I was naive about what I was going to see. Horror chiller thriller theater combined with hard rock. That it was. And, yes, it did have its moments, but not enough of them.

Easily the best thing was Eric Singer’s terrific drumming. A big sound, energetically delivered. Quite a treat.

They played most everything you’d want to hear, so no complaints there.

That said …


Alice was OK, but it’s hard to buy his stage persona when he’s so otherwise intent on selling himself as nice guy, family man, golf fanatic, radio host, businessman. (Gene Simmons has the same problem these days.)

The rest of the band played with lots of energy, but the guitarists seemed in tune for only the first half of the show. If not that, then the sound mix left something to be desired.

The problem may be that Alice’s albums often are so lushly produced, so lushly orchestrated, that it’s impossible to reproduce that sound on the live stage with just two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer. The live show lacks the nuances of the albums, the quiet moments that give the shocks more sudden impact. Then again, that may be on purpose, old tunes given a new interpretation I really don’t dig.

After last month’s post, Willie left a comment that he’d seen Alice do an all-request show with no costumes or theatrics.

I’d rather have seen that show.

Easily the most disturbing thing was this: Anytime there was make-believe violence of any kind on stage, a young guy off to my left went absolutely ape shit. I don’t want to know what’s in that guy’s head.

Easily the scariest thing was this: One of our local TV anchors, wearing a biker’s black cutoff T-shirt, jeans and pointy-toed boots.


Yeah, this guy.

If you’re curious about the visual aspect of Alice’s show, check out this blog and these photos, both from Alice’s show at the Missouri State Fair on Aug. 11. The show here looked much the same. (The photo of Alice is by Chuck Zimmerman, from his AgWired blog, also from last week’s show at the Missouri State Fair.)


Filed under August 2007, Sounds like bull to me

Would you go see Alice Cooper?

This has been a dreadful summer for live music up here in our corner of Wisconsin. There haven’t been any must-see shows around here.

That, and our local casino took down the big tent in which it used to have summer shows and moved the shows inside, into the ballroom. It’s a nice venue, but hardwood and air conditioning isn’t quite the same as pavement and big overhead fans. Just not the right vibe for summer.

Of all the big shows scheduled out at the casino for the rest of the summer, the one I’m most seriously considering is Alice Cooper. I’ve had other opportunities to see him, but I’ve passed. Just a casual fan, I guess.

The other night, I put on Alice’s “Killer” album from 1971. (It still has the foldout 1972 calendar that came with it.) I hadn’t listened to it in quite some time, and was pleasantly surprised. The stuff accompanying the big hits — “Be My Lover” and “Under My Wheels” — is every bit as good. Lots of solid performances. It’s held up well. I was just going to rip a couple of cuts and wound up ripping the whole album.

Then I thought a little more seriously about popping for the $25 to see Alice Cooper on a Sunday night next month. And then I thought a little more about the show I’m likely to see and hear after 35 years. I doubt I’m likely to hear much of the interesting stuff from “Killer.”

So I remain on the fence. Your wise counsel is welcome.

In the meantime, enjoy a couple of those vintage cuts.


“Halo of Flies” and “Desperado,” Alice Cooper, from “Killer,” 1971.

The first cut jams lots of ideas and styles into a piece that runs 8 minutes plus. The second cut is about the Doors’ Jim Morrison … or about Lee, Robert Vaughn’s on-the-run gunfighter in “The Magnificent Seven,” depending on which version of Alice’s tales you choose to believe.


Filed under July 2007, Sounds