Alice Cooper Goes To Hell

Alice Cooper

Warner Brothers Records, 1976

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


You know, this follow up to Alice Cooper's masterpiece from the the previous year is a great album in it's own right, but let's face it, topping Welcome To My Nightmare would have been pretty much impossible, so instead of following up a brilliant album with a stinky one, which is often the case with many bands, Alice followed up with a more than solid effort that does not make the mistake of trying to copy the previously successful formula.

Stylistically, this album is all over the place, with an eclectic mix of songs ranging from metal to disco, broadway, and soft pop ballads, ensuring that there is something for everyone. While a lot of people probably see that as desperation or a lack of cohesion, I personally think that is one way to keep an album interesting, and Alice does get away with most of his seemingly misguided forays into unexplored musical territory here mainly due to the hilarious, often self depreciating lyrics and way-catchier-than-they-have-a-right-to-be hooks throughout each track.

On this album it's very apparent that he does not take himself seriously at all, and that sort of humilty goes a long's all about having fun and being entertained, and this album certainly delivers in that regard.

Lyrically, it's another concept album, this time about Alice's descent into hell itself and over the course of the songs the story unfolds about how he attempts to escape...sounds like another devilish experience eh? But whereas Welcome To My Nightmare was a twisted album, this one is very light hearted, funny and self mocking...I'm sure a lot of people would find this album downright silly and cheesy, but it doesn't pretend to be anything more than an entertaining listen, and it certainly does an excellent job if you give it a chance...when I first heard it I was like, "What the fuck was he thinking???", but after mutilple listens it just dawned on me that this is great stuff after all.

It starts off with "Go To Hell", a glorious, voodoo tinged funk rocker about just that; the descent into hell...some heavy duty riffs here courtesy of guitar virtuosos Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter, the two brilliant guys who played on the previous album...two fine examples of the best of 70's hard rock guitarists, guys who had tremendous technical ability who played tastefully and with feel, unlike all those 80's clowns who did nothing but try to show off their speed at doing scales...fuckin' wankers. Sorry about that slight tangent; I tend to get carried away with certain things.

Does the thought of Alice Cooper doing disco frighten you? I thought so! Well, this was 1976, and disco was starting to hit big in the mainstream, so I guess Alice, along with many other hard rock bands at the time, felt they had to include a "dance" song on their albums, and here it is a song called "You Gotta Dance". It doesn't seem to make much sense at all, but I think the hilarious idea he had here is that you have a rock icon who is totally reviled by the moral mainstream majority, yet he is able to get away with penetrating the most popular mainstream form of music of the day. I'm sure a lot of parents were very worried when this so-called satanic figure started to wind up in their homes doing disco! Is nothing sacred??my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I personally love disco and this song is no really gives me that urge to sway those hips and shake that ass! Besides, it's great to see Alice experimenting with new styles instead of just doing the same thing over and over and getting creatively stale as a result, kinda like AC/DC, who I think are awesome, but there's no excuse for putting out the same album 17 times.

"I'm The Coolest" is a neat, strange little song where Alice really lowers his voice to play the role of the devil, to a funk groove of all things! "I Never Cry" was the big hit off this album and strangely enough (or not), its a sappy ballad again, but well written nevertheless. He sure could write good ballads when he wanted to.

"Give The Kid A Break" has to be the funniest song Alice ever wrote, and certainly one of the most bizarre by a major artist. He sings a duet with himself, playing himself bargaining with the devil, who is once again also sung by himself in a much lower register, with the accompanyment of a large female soul choir all in the trappings of a very upbeat pop tune!

"Guilty" is a straight forward rip roarin' rebellious rocker; "Wake Me Gently" is another sappy sort of very mainstream sounding ballad with female back up singers until midway through it unxpectedly takes a hard rocking turn. Another totally weird, yet endlessly amusing song is "Wish You Were Here", a funk/disco tune with hard guitar riffs thrown in, and it's about him writing a letter from hell to his wife back home, before Alice then puts his masterful twisted mind to work covering an old tin pan alley classic from 1918 "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" in a way only he could. Then the optimistic album closer "Going Home" finishes with great pomp and circumstance through orchestral and choral bombast!

Alice shows his range as a performer on this album. Unfortunately, it's a range not many people want to see from him and it isn't nearly as powerful as the legendary Alice of a few albums earlier, but that's completely beside the point. It's still an awesome album in it's own regard.

Sure, on Goes To Hell rock gets sacrificed for ultra melodic showtune musical type material, but it's so goddamn catchy and fun that you can't possibly not enjoy the shit out of this album! My friends (who are not big Cooper fans) love this material best because it's so upbeat and love Alice's refreshingly non-serious approach. It's such a blast to listen to because you can tell that he had a really great time recording these songs. His lyrics and performance are absolutely hilarious!

He realized what a joke it was that people actually took him really seriously up to this point, and he beat everyone to the punch with this record's concept by making fun of himself before anyone else had a chance to. That's just part of his genius...from beginning to end, this is a light hearted parody of himself that never fails to entertain the listener musically and lyrically.

Goes To Hell was his way of telling the world that he's not some anti-christ as he was being unfairly demonized by the conservative elements of society, but that he's an entertainer and nothing more. So many people just don't understand what he's trying to do, and because of this, they dismiss a lot of his music.

To someone who's not very familiar with what Alice is all about, of course Goes To Hell sounds ridiculously cheesy and campy, like a sort of Muppets musical with him as a guest star. And of course people expecting some shocking madman will also be disappointed. A skidmark in your undies is more shocking than anything on this album.

That's all beside the point though. I used to hate this album for the very same reasons I just mentioned why others don't like it. But after I bothered to listen to it closely a few times, I realized what was going on, and the result is masterful. Don't skip this's one of his finest, but in a much different way than before.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B+



© 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.