Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits

Alice Cooper

Warner Brothers Records, 1974

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


After experiencing a combination of substance abuse and squabbling over the future musical and artistic direction of the band, the Alice Cooper group parted ways in 1974, ending an extremely prolific period during which they recorded no less than seven studio albums in four years, with practically non-stop touring in between. You don't see that sort of insane dedication too often, and it's no wonder that they suddenly burnt out. While Alice Cooper himself would go on to have a highly sucessful solo career which continues to this day, the other supremely talented members of the band unfortunately went into total obscurity.

In light of this event, Warner Brothers records felt the time was right to unleash this greatest hits compilation in 1974, becoming yet another multi platinum success for this pioneering group, and what a sweet compilation it is!

Twelve tracks of sheer early 70's hard rock brilliance: "I'm Eighteen", "Is It My Body", "Desperado", "Under My Wheels", "Be My Lover", "School's Out", "Hello Hooray", "Elected", "No More Mr. Nice Guy", "Billion Dollar Babies", "Teenage Lament '74", and "Muscle Of Love".

Each song included here is an undisputed masterpiece, and it's all the more astonishing when you realize that all of the material filling out this entire hits compilation was created over only two years...what were these guys on?? Not a single one of these songs does not deserve to be included here, and while this is an amazing, if brief, overview of what many many believe to be the absolute peak period of Alice Cooper's career, there are a few minor criticisms that I have.

Firstly, the band's first two albums, Pretties For You and my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Easy Action, are not represented here at all. They both had some tracks that were worth salvaging, but unfortunately the vinyl format of the day only allowed for about 45 minutes of music per record, and I don't think it would have been right to leave off any of the tracks on the compilation to make room for tracks from the first two albums. As well, those first two records were not technically Warner releases, so there was no reason for Warner to include any tracks from them. It would also have been unecessary overkill to have a two-record set of greatest hits for such a young band, so I guess I can't really complain...can't have everything!

Secondly, the emphasis here is very much on the raw, hard rocking side of Alice Cooper, while the other essential aspects of what made the band so special are for the most part ignored. The more adventurous and highly theatrical leanings of the band are nowhere to be found here, and neither is any of the sinister creepy stuff, which played a large part in the appeal of the band in the first place. "I Love The Dead"? "Unfinished Sweet"? "Halo Of Flies"? "Man With The Golden Gun"? All are glaring omissions, but the two songs that I think should have been a must for this album in place of two of the others are "The Ballad Of Dwight Frye" and "Dead Babies"...their absence was a huge mistake, and I would have included those instead of "Be My Lover" and "Teenage Lament '74".

And what about the excellent yet shamefully ignored smoky jazz honky tonk blues song "Crazy Little Child", from 1973's Muscle Of Love?? The song would have perfectly captured the essence of the excellent cover artwork, showing the band members in black and white, leaning against a vintage 1920's automobile in pin-striped suits and the like, looking very much like hoods in prohibition era urban America, about to carry out a "hit" (get it?)!

These are very small criticisms, and admittedly, considering the wealth of brilliant material over the five albums represented, I would have a hard time coming up with 45 minutes worth of tracks that I was totally happy with as a die-hard Alice fan, but I think for the most part they did a decent job. Despite the inaccurate portrayal of the band's output, this is still a superb way for the casual Cooper listener to get a taste of the power of a band during arguably its creative and commercial peak.

But that's just it; it should serve only as the appetizer to a main course. For a truly wonderful journey into some of the most original rock music of the 70's you're much better off getting the individual studio albums...if you love the songs on Greatest Hits, you're bound to be blown away by the diversity of the group that is not shown here.

But, if you insist on buying a greatest hits compilation of Alice Cooper, it should be noted this this collection is out of date. In 2001 Rhino records (a subsidiary of Warner) released an expanded version of this album, called Mascara & Monsters: The Best Of Alice Cooper. That CD contains all of the songs included here, as well as one extra song from the early era and nine tracks from Alice Cooper's equally amazing solo career since 1975, making it a much more complete collection on one disc.

Rating: B+

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© 2001 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.