April 16, 2014

101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes 58: Alice Cooper ~ Killer

 Alice Cooper ~ Killer!

In addition to my 20,000 Vinyl LP collection I'm selling, I have reel-to-reel, pre-recorded tapes for sale as well (see links below). If interested, contact me by email please, not by a comment.

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Killer was the fourth studio album by Alice Cooper but it was the first album I heard by the group and it remained my favorite of all the many great albums they produced; it was released in late 1971 and I must have heard it in 1972. I was blown away when I heard it; there had never been anything like it. Marilyn Manson was only two years old when it was released.

reel-to-reel tape box
photo by Pete Turner
boa constrictor - Kachina
album design - Alice Cooper
  photo of tape box by Styrous®

Under My Wheels opens the album in classic hard-rock, dance provoking fashion. I love the way it rocks out and makes it impossible to sit still. 

Be My Lover follows with a pretty much down to earth rock 'n roll tune that has a slight touch of Mae West I've always loved. It has a nice guitar and drums ending.

reel-to-reel tape box back
album design - Alice Cooper
photo of tape box by Styrous®

Halo of Flies comes galloping in with a great mutiple-guitars intro that has just a touch of a Spanish feeling.  Then at thirty seconds hits an annoying morse code-like, staccato sound that is quite nice. The inro goes on for a minute & a half before it gets down to the business at hand. It's an 8 1/2 minute excursion into far off lands and adventures that evnetually goes in to a sensational string-synth instrumental section that rocks along with a sensational drum solo by . According to Cooper's liner notes in the compilation The Definitive Alice Cooper, it was an attempt by the band to prove that they could perform King Crimson-like progressive rock suites, and was supposedly about a spy organisation.  The whole gang joins in and builds to an incredible final! A truly violent and beautiful ode that could apply to (it seems to me) the Viet Nam War; after all, we were still ass-deep in it at the time (lyrics below).

Upon its single release in 1973, the song became a top 10 hit in the Netherlands and charted in Belgium. The single release featured the B-side Under My Wheels, which had already been released as a single two years prior.

The noise rock band Halo of Flies named themselves after this song. Jello Biafra and The Melvins covered the song on their release Sieg Howdy!, while Haunted Garage covered it for the 1993 Cooper tribute Welcome to Our Nightmare.

What a great song!

reel-to-reel tape back detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Desperado is a tribute to Jim Morrison, according to Cooper. "Jim was a drinking buddy and an early supporter of the band who really meant a lot to us."  The song starts with a gentle and quiet guitar and voice intro, there are beautiful strings during the slow instrumental breaks. It does not ever really break loose, which is a nice change.

You Drive Me Nervous has some interesting airplane, dive-bombing sounding guitar riffs that are pretty cool. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah is a good ol' rock 'n roll song with a harmonica a little over mid-way the tune that pretty much wails. Great dance song.

reel-to-reel tape back detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Killer is a monumental classic of great Rock music. A seven minute tour de force workout that is fantastic! It starts with an "Oh, Too Cool" strolling beat that has this neat doppler guitar work.  A moderately fast beat propels the song to some pretty interesting displays of quitar work. It slowly builds to a climax then slows down to an incredibly slow and trippy section with whispers and sounds of agony in the background.

During performances of the song, Cooper would stage a ritual hanging during this very slow section which uses a drum roll and an organ plays while a priest chants Extreme Unctions. Quite a bit of theater for the time; you have to see it for the ending (link to the Unofficial video below). I loved it.

A killer song!

reel-to-reel tape back detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Alice Cooper was born Vincent Damon Furnier on February 4, 1948, in Detroit, Michigan, and moved to Phoenix with his family.  The Alice Cooper band formed while they were in high school in Phoenix, and was discovered in 1969 by Frank Zappa in Los Angeles, where he signed them to his record label.

The band originally consisted of Furnier on vocals and harmonica, lead guitarist Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce on rhythm guitar, Dennis Dunaway on bass guitar, and drummer Neal Smith. The original Alice Cooper band broke into the international music mainstream with the 1971 hit I'm Eighteen from the album Love It to Death, which was followed by the even bigger single "School's Out" in 1972. The band reached their commercial peak with the 1973 album Billion Dollar Babies.

Furnier adopted the band's name as his own name in the 1970s and began a solo career with the 1975 concept album Welcome to My Nightmare.

photo by Styrous®

His stage shows feature guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, boa constrictors, and baby dolls, he is considered by fans and peers to be "The Godfather of Shock Rock"; Cooper has drew from horror movies, vaudeville, and garage rock to pioneer a grandly theatrical and macabre brand of rock designed to shock.

Cooper has experimented with a number of musical styles, including conceptual rock, art rock, hard rock, heavy metal, New Wave, pop rock, experimental rock and industrial rock

The Rolling Stone Album Guide has called him the world's most "beloved heavy metal entertainer". He is credited with helping to shape the sound and look of heavy metal, and has been described as the artist who "first introduced horror imagery to rock'n'roll, and whose stagecraft and showmanship have permanently transformed the genre"

reel-to-reel tape detail
detail photo by Styrous®

On December 15, 2010, it was announced Cooper and his former band would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The official Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place March 14, 2011 where Cooper was inducted by fellow horror-rocker Rob Zombie

In 2011 he released Welcome 2 My Nightmare, his 19th album as a solo artist, and his 26th album in total. 

Alice Cooper performing live during
Halloween Night of Horror at
London Wembley Arena
on 28 October, 2012

Alice CooperHalo Of Flies lyrics

I've got the answers
To all of your questions
If you've got the money
To pay me in gold

I will be living
In old Monte Carlo
And you will be reading
The secrets of soul

Daggers and contacts
And bright shiny limos
I've got a watch
That turns into a lifeboat

Glimmering nightgowns
And poisonous cobras
Silencer under the heel of my shoe

The elegance of China
They sent her to lie here on her back
But as she deeply moves me
She'd rather shoot me in my tracks

And while a Middle Asian lady
She really came as no surprise
But I still did destroy her
And I will smash
Halo of flies

I crossed the ocean
Where no one could see
And I put a time-bomb
In your submarine
Goodbye to old friends
The secret's in hand
With full ream of papers
And counterfeit plans
You never will understand



Alice Cooper ~ Killer
reel-to-reel tape label detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Track listing:

Side One:

1 - Under My Wheels (Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, Bob Ezrin) - 2:51
2 - Be My Lover (Bruce) - 3:21
3 - Halo of Flies (Alice Cooper, Glen Buxton, Bruce, Dunaway, Neal Smith) - 8:22
4 - Desperado (Cooper, Bruce) - 3:30

Side Two:

1 - You Drive Me Nervous (Cooper, Bruce, Ezrin) - 2:28
2 - Yeah, Yeah, Yeah (Cooper, Bruce) - 3:39
3 - Dead Babies (Cooper, Buxton, Bruce, Dunaway, Smith) - 5:44
4 - Killer (Bruce, Dunaway) - 6:57


Net links:

Alice Cooper discography

Alice Cooper ~ Killer reel-to-reel tape on eBay

reel-to-reel listings on eBay

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