Alice Cooper, AKA Vincent Furnier, became famous with a mixture of hard rock and sideshow horror. With his outrageous image and stage show, entertainer extraordinaire Cooper (who eventually adopted the band's name as his own) almost single-handedly invented the genre of shock rock--spawning a legion of famous imitators (Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson) along the way. By the end of the 1970s, Cooper had racked up a number of hits and become a bona fide celebrity, even appearing in films. His musical and cinematic activities continued into the 2000s, his iconic status firmly cemented.
Rock star opulence came to an explosive head in 1973 when the Alice Cooper Group hit #1 on the U.S. and worldwide charts with ''Billion Dollar Babies,'' their sixth and most successful album. Produced by Bob Ezrin, it is also one of the best rock ''n'' roll records of all time, and the subsequent tour became the biggest rock production to date. Capitalizing on the album''s themes of good-old decadence and horror, the show climaxed with a guillotine execution of Alice. The album and the tour made the band into the world''s preeminent pied pipers of teenage trash culture.
Now, a few decades later, we have given Billion Dollar Babies the deluxe Rhino treatment - the complete remastered album in its entirety remixed by Ezrin himself.
The original Alice Cooper band was one of the finest hard-rock units of the early '70s, which is why the second disc of this remastered version of Billion Dollar Babies is such a treat. Eleven bonus tracks from the band's 1973 tour display the Cooper band's taste for pop-culture--and a sense of humor, as Alice quotes from Don McLean's "American Pie" on a wonderful version of "I'm Eighteen," while the band delivers a ripping "Theme from Perry Mason" during an extended workout of "Unfinished Sweet." Rounded out with session outtakes, the second disc will have fans praying that Rhino unearths more live material. As for Billion Dollar Babies itself, it may not be the Cooper band's best album, but it was the final release of a quartet of extraordinary Bob Ezrin-produced hard-rock records (rounded out by Love It to Death, Killer, and School's Out), and it captures the moment when the band was at their peak. Including three hit singles in "Hello Hooray," "Elected," and "No More Mr. Nice Guy," the album--from Donovan's exciting cameo on the title track to the closing "I Love the Dead" (probably the prettiest ode to necrophilia ever recorded)--still sounds terrific. And the packaging, production, music, and imagery has inspired followers as diverse as the Sex Pistols, Marilyn Manson, and Hole. --Bill Holdship
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