Saturday, November 14, 2009

460. Love it to death- A chance to mock shock rock.

Album: Love it to death.

Artist: Alice Cooper.

Year: 1971

Genre: Shock rock.


1. Caught in a Dream
2. I'm Eighteen
3. Long Way to Go
4. Black Juju
5. Is It My Body
6. Hallowed Be My Name
7. Second Coming
8. Ballad of Dwight Fry
9. Sun Arise

I know this might be a bit confusing but before Alice Cooper was a person he was a band, or more accurately they were a band and he was just part of it. Vincent Furnier and his friends formed a rock band and decided to name themselves Alice Cooper because they thought it sounded evil (even though it sounds to me like a cross between the housekeeper from the Brady Bunch and a guy who makes barrels- which doesn't strike me as exceptionally diabolic). Gradually the band dissolved and went their separate ways and Vincent adopted the name himself and launched a hugely successful solo career. But before the distinctive make up, before the mock executions during stage shows and long before he became everyone’s favourite recovering-alcoholic, golf-obsessed, bible-believing, spooky-person, Alice was just the lead singer of a band.

1971’s Love it to Death was the band’s big label debut and their break with Frank Zappa who had produced their earlier work. It contained a monster hit single which I’d never heard and a bunch of other songs which I hadn’t heard either. It launched their career and made them a big name in 1970’s rock and roll. And it makes for a very strange listen.

Love it to Death seems like a transitional record that sees a band moving from one stage of their career to another. It’s an odd mix of styles and ideas which for me didn’t really gel at all. The two centrepieces of the album are the longer epic songs Black Ju Ju and The Ballad of Dwight Fry, both of which sound to me like attempts to blend Pink Floyd and The Doors only missing the strengths of either. It’s doom-laden psychedelia floating around dark themes, probably best described as psycho-delia and it might just give you an appreciation of how hard psychedelic music is to pull of effectively. Dwight Fry contains one of the most cringingly hideous moments of 1970’s music in amongst its running time: early in the track the band decides to give voice to the lead character’s young daughter and rather than employ an actual infant, Alice does his best impression of a small girl. Those who thought Alice should be kept away from children would be heartened to hear his attempt which clearly prove he’s never spent any time around them, he certainly doesn’t know how they sound. It’s pretty painful to listen to which puts it on a par with the rest of the song, a lot of which is made up of Alice’s mad ranting.

The big hit on Love it to Death is apparently I’m Eighteen, which was a huge hit on radio although not on any radios I ever went near when I was growing up. Lyrically it’s a good summation of how it feels to be on the verge of adulthood but not quite there yet. “I’m 18, I get confused every day, I’m 18 I just don’t know what to say, I’m 18 I gotta get away” certainly resonates with my teenage years. Less so is the song’s opening: “Lines form on my face and hands”- are many 18 year olds wrinkly? I turned 18 exactly 18 years ago but I don't consider myself especially creased or prunelike even now. Apparently the band originally wrote this as another psychedelic epic but were persuaded to reduce it to a single length pop song which was definitely a wise choice. Many of the other songs on the album sound like they were written by an 18 year old except for Is it my body which sounds exactly like the sort of music 14 year olds write when they form their first band and are incredibly embarrassed about a few years later.

The final track on the album is actually a Rolf Harris cover which took me completely by surprise. Alice covering Rolf- who saw that coming? It’s a Harris song that I’d never heard before (not that I’m a big fan) but it’s definitely annoying even by his standards. I’m too far removed from this album to know if this was recorded with a sense of irony (had they invented irony back by the early seventies?) but either way it’s a very annoying track.

Highlight: I’m 18. I wouldn’t call it a classic but it’s not a bad song.

Lowlight: Is it my body.

Influenced by: The usual suspects, Sabbath and Zeppelin along with doses of Floyd and Morrison.

Influenced: KISS.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "this brought the death of normallicy that marked the sixty"

-That's how I like my Amazon reviews- short sweet and baffling, were the sixties really all that normal?

So do you feel malice for Alice or think Cooper is Super Dooper? Let me know below.


  1. Is any of the soloist Alice Cooper up and coming in the top 500?

  2. Nope, that's it for Alice according to the writers at Rolling Stone his career was all down hill from this album onwards.

  3. How the *expletive* did this get on the darn list??? Stupid entry to say the least...