In Phoenix, Arizona,
in the late sixties there was a rough
little garage band known as ‘The
Earwigs’, playing whatever gigs
they could get with a certain Vincent
Furnier on lead vocals. By 1969 and countless
name changes the quintet had settled on
the name ‘The Alice Cooper Band'’.
As expected, the lead singer started to
get called Alice. The band's fame started
to spread with the release of their first
album 'Pretties For You'. There was certainly
no overnight stardom, more a slow, but
inevitable rise to the very top of the
By 1972 Vincent Furnier changed his name
by deed poll to Alice Cooper and the Alice
Cooper Band had their first global number
one hit with 'School's Out'; brilliantly
timed to be released when all the schools
broke up for their long summer holidays.
With its lyrics of unbounded joy and anti-teacher
rants 'School’s Out' captured the
imagination of a generation of school
kids. Everybody loved the Alice Cooper
Band, unless you happened to be a parent.
By the time of the release of this, their
sixth album ‘Billion Dollar Babies’,
the Alice Cooper Band was one of the biggest
bands in the world and had 25 Gold Records,
album sales of over 50 Million, plus sold-out
stadium tours to prove it.
The band was every teenagers dream. The
band members themselves were disastrously
young, too brutally good looking, too
clever by half, way out of control, preened
around the country in their own customized
jet (booze and cards in the front, girls
in the back), willing to take any chance
they were given, and most importantly
enough street savvy to fill every young
head on our little planet. The songs weren't
Opening with the frothy-mouthed Broadway
burlesque of 'Hello Hooray', the band
announces their arrival and greets their
audience, a celebration from the musicians
to thank their fans for where they now
are; together with their fans one mighty
gang. Not one to ever dodge issues, the
next song 'Raped and Freezin' is a Stonesy
rave-up involving a guy who gets picked
up and raped by some ‘old broad
down from Sante Fe' and winds up naked
in Chihuahua, Mexico. You can imagine
how much this would of been appreciated
by the older generation. But it's all
very tongue in cheek with the singer at
his sassy best, and the south-of-the-border
Spanish guitar mantra at the song’s
end is pure class.
The next song was the first single to
be released from this collection, 'Elected',
which was put out the previous year to
tie in with the American Presidential
Elections. Not a trick did our boys miss
out on. Naturally the song was a huge
The title track remains an all time classic,
including its surprising vocal duet with
flower power idol Donovan and Alice, although
it's Alice who gets to sing the gleeful:
''If I'm too rough, tell me,
I'm so scared your tiny little head is
going to come off in my hands".
‘Billion Dollar Babies’ has
wonderful guitar riffs from Michael Bruce
and Glen Buxton, although Steve Hunter
and Dick Wagner, two of rock 'n' roll's
top session guitarists, were brought in
to give some experience to the studio
guitar sound. This was also partly due
to the failing health of Glen Buxton,
who is tragically no longer with us. The
rhythm section of Dennis Dunaway and Neal
Smith really come into their own on these
On this thirtieth anniversary release
of ‘Billion Dollar Babies’
you get two discs, one with the original
recording cleaned up by original producer
Bob Ezrin from the master tapes, and a
second one with selected live tracks from
the ‘Billion Dollar Babies’
tour that followed this release, where
the band leaves you in no doubt they certainly
can cut it live. There are also several
studio outtakes on the second disc, showing
that at the time the band had plenty of
material still left in the bank.
'Generation Landslide', 'No More Mr.
Nice Guy', plus the title track were three
more hit singles for the band, while 'I
Love The Dead' and 'Sick Things' would
become stage favorites. 'Unfinished Sweet'
gives the band room to breathe, while
giving the stage show a vehicle for the
band’s theatrics during their spectacular
act, especially with its snippets of West
Side Story themes.
'Mary Ann' is perhaps the album’s
only not instantly memorable song. It's
a pithy ballad that pumps sexual irony
to the point of persona self-immolation.
On the surface the song is a ballad of
pure ear candy for girls, but the last
line pitches a curve ball by revealing
the protagonist’s true love interest.
Mary Ann is as much a man, if not more
so, than Alice himself. For sheer cheek
alone, Mary Ann scores a point.
A great album beautifully repackaged
with loads of sleeve notes and photos
all tucked away in a snake skin wallet.
Unfortunately though you cannot remove
the Billion Dollar note tucked inside
as you could in the original vinyl release.
Sadly the next year’s 'Muscle of
Love' album was the band’s last
as egos got in the way. The newly named
Alice crawled away to form yet another
band, while the others carried on as "The
Billion Dollar Babies'', but none of them
ever came close to these heights again.
Executed by Mott the Dog
Guillotined by Ella Crew