ALICE COOPER: Welcome To My Nightmare - Dave Thompson (318 pages, Omnibus Press)
It’s often forgotten just how pioneering ALICE COOPER (band and person) was in the development of this Rock ‘n’ Roll thing we all so love. Others may have been more musically potent than the original band, some others may have toyed with theatrics in their stage show, but ALICE COOPER was the first to take full-on, guitar-drenched Rock ‘n’ Roll and marry it with a stage show of unrelenting and continually updated horror. Without ALICE there would not be a TURBONEGRO, a DEAD BOYS, a SEX PISTOLS, a Nine Inch Nails or a Maryiln Manson - at least not in the form we all know them.
I will say I have never been the biggest of fans. In 1972 when he had the major UK hit of ‘School’s Out’, I was still pre-school age. ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, ‘Killer’ and ‘Love It To Death’ all grace my record collection - along with an obligatory ‘Greatest Hits’ comp - but that’s as far as it goes. So, this biography was greeted with welcome, but also a sense of skepticism as there seems little in the way of it being ‘Alice-approved’.
As a piece of music journalism, it was interesting (thanks to the subject matter) and the focus on the early life of ‘Alice the man’ I found intriguing. As a person, he is far from the public persona many consider ALICE to be - he seems quite humble yet determined and also something of a talented multi-sportsman.
The development of the original band certainly takes up most of the musical legacy of ALICE COOPER. Charting the formation, through to a record deal with Frank Zappa, onto ‘School’s Out’ and eventually the break-up of the original band, it makes for interesting reading if all rather matter-of-fact. The ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’/ ‘Goes To Hell’ period is well documented too and, oddly, thought provoking in the suggestion of how effective those albums would’ve been with the original band, but due to substance addiction, greed and that familiar rock star egotism, it was not to be. I was completely ignorant of anything from ‘Dada’ onwards too. This was a time he seemed to head full-throttle into the world of Heavy Metal with albums like ‘Raise Your Fist And Yell’. I lost all interest from there on, so the remainder of the book filled in the holes very well.
As with Dave Thompson’s previous book about JOAN JETT, this also has a few too many errors amidst its pages. I’m not as well versed in ALICE history (or his era) as I am that of JETT’s, but I found a number of mistakes here - some of which a decent proof-reader should have picked up.
The book is filled out with some glossy photo pages and a full discography.
As a music biography, this is a decent introductory effort on a subject that could easily span a book twice as big. It’s a book that’s easy to read with a good continuity and if you are after a basic guide to ALICE and his career, look no further. Whether the ALICE aficionado would get much out of it though is another matter. (21.06.13)