Love It To Death

Alice Cooper

Straight / Warner Brothers Records, 1971

REVIEW BY: Bill Ziemer


According to legend, Vincent Furnier became Alice Cooper after a Ouija board revealed that he was a modern day incarnation of a 17th century witch. Arriving in Los Angeles in the late 60's, Cooper was the pioneer of rock theatrics. By 1970, after two minor label releases, Cooper had established a well known stage repertoire that included simulated executions and draping himself with live boa-constrictors.

Even though the first albums were poor sellers, Warner Brothers signed the band anyway, and released my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Love It To Death in 1971. It's a good thing too, for Cooper and his band members were rumored to be holed up in a single room hotel, literally on the brink of starvation on the eve of its release.

Love It To Death was the breakthrough album for Cooper, which included the #21 hit "I'm Eighteen". Recorded on poor equipment (even for those days), Love It To Death has an unusually raw feel, similar to that of basement band recordings. The guitar signals run straight to the amp, with nothing more than tube fuzz to dress up the sound on most of the tracks. Cooper's singing, at certain points, is completely off time. Through all of this, producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd) pulls an amazing piece of work together that has the benefits of a studio recording, while maintaining a very live feel.

Most of the album's tracks are still catchy today. "Caught In A Dream" is a mood heightening track that's a perfect driving song. "I'm Eighteen" spelled teen angst long before kids were getting high on "Teen Spirit". Simple rhythms and leads back Cooper's whiskey seasoned voice, which crows irresistibly catchy (albeit simple) lyrics. Darker songs include "The Ballad Of Dwight Fry", a chilling tale of Dwight's experience in a mental ward. The lyrics are a masterpiece of fear, paranoia, and tongue in cheek humor. Reasoning with himself, Dwight envisions what he'll do after his release: "...she's only four years old. I'd give her back all of her playthings, even the ones I stole." While the line may not be immediately funny, taken with the song and Cooper's inflection, you can't help but chuckle.

A few tracks on the album are downers today. "Black Juju" is an overly long groove tune that was probably cool during the marijuana haze of the late 60's - early 70's, but without a perception heightening drug to accompany the track, it's totally bogus.

Overall, Love It To Death is a fun album that deserves an occasional listen. When you do, you're sure to find several modern rock beginnings, and some catchy storytelling.

Rating: B-

User Rating: A-



© 1997 Bill Ziemer 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 Straight / Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.