Without doubt the most significant Alice Cooper collection to have emerged in recent years, this 2CD set is precisely what it says on the label - demos for (or possibly out-takes from) four of the five albums that ensured the Cooper bands megastardom between 1971-1973 - that is, Love It To Death, Killer, Schools Out and Muscle Of Love. (No Billion Dollar Babies. Shame!) And, from beginning to end, its a fascinating listen, a secret snapshot into the gestation of some of the most influential American music of the year, littered with starkly alternate arrangements, some staggering reworkings and even a handful of previously unreleased songs.
Of the seven cuts from the Love It To Death sessions, "Fields Of Regret" surrenders a glimpse into the genesis of Killers "Halo Of Flies"; from Killer itself, multiple takes of "You Drive Me Nervous" and a ten minute "Halo Of Flies" are punctuated by "Desert Night Thing," realigning "Desperado" around completely different lyrics, but no less menace and moodiness. In fact, almost every performance across the first disc offers up something radically different to the familiar versions, be it the extra added whoops and whispers that percolate behind "Black Juju"; the markedly less frenetic arrangement that renders "You Drive Me Nervous" all but unrecognizable; or the completely over-the-top guitars that literally scythe through "Killer" itself.
Moving onto disc two, we find material intended for the next two albums is less eye-opening, possibly because the Cooper band were more aware of what they were doing in the studio by now, but also, perhaps, because the demands of superstardom left them less time in which to play around.
Theres no mistaking
these versions for their studio counterparts, but its rough edges,
rather than rough sketches that characterize them, with even the lyrics
sounding close to their finished form. That said, "No Respect For
The Sleepers" offers up an early vision of what would become "Muscle
Of Love," while the growing tensions within the band itself see Neal
Smith step out of the shadows to perform "Baby Please Dont
Stop." But "Teenage Lament 74" is probably the only other
number that was seriously reworked, as Alice rewired a reasonably promising
portrait of disaffected youth, and transformed it into a primal glam stomp
of the first order. Besides, "what a drag it is in these gold lame
jeans" sounds far better than the original opening complaint that
he had "no money in my jeans." After three years of non-stop
hits, whoever was going to believe that? -
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