Life at 33 1/3: School’s out, Alice is here

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Alice Cooper: School’s Out (Warner Brothers)

Unfortunately the best thing about this album is its sleeve, although a blatant rip-off of the Hotlegs’ (aka 10CC) “Thinks: School Stinks”-gatefold (released in 1970), it’s still funny, and the paper panties that were included definitely ads to the naughtiness. 

The music is less focused than on its predecessor “Killer”.  There’s lots of noise of course, bristling guitars and crashing drums, undisciplined in a way that works on stage, but not necessarily when perceived in one’s bedroom.  The band is trying to break new ground; it is a transitional album that points to the following year’s mega classic “Billion Dollar Babies”.

In 1972 Alice Cooper were more than anything else a live band; it was their stage act that horrified parents and outraged the social establishment – the perfect attack position when you want to conquer the world.  They had all the shock theatrics in place, the make-up, the costumes, the guillotine, the boa constrictor, the blood, the sex, the gore.  Center stage was Alice, a preacher’s son with a girl’s name, a sleazy androgynous rat who gorged himself on violence, sex, torture and other forms of joy.  It was “A Clockwork Orange” with rock’n’roll guitars.

The novel paper panties inside the album sleeve.The novel paper panties inside the album sleeve.

All they needed was a massive hit.  And you wouldn’t find anything more suited for the all time classics hit-parade than the album’s title track, a roaring call to arms against the education system, they blow the school to pieces and dance on the rubble.  And they don’t kill people, they kill the building, this ain’t Columbine, it’s a party.

“School’s Out” blasted from home stereos and transistor radios all through the summer and into the fall of 1972.  Alice Cooper were hot stuff, bedroom pin-ups and front page news.  By chance they timed it perfectly to glam rock’s emergence in England.  Ziggy Stardust and Alice Cooper came from two different worlds, but in 1972 they shared the same teenage fans.  The “School’s Out”-video from Top Of The Pops (check it out on YouTube) shows the band in clothes that just as easily could have been worn by Sweet.  Glam had opened its gates and Alice Cooper slipped in and gobbled the poor unprepared kids.

The album was probably a disappointment to them because there is nothing on it even remotely as strong as the hit single.  But you get glimpses of what was to come, and the closing finale is so bombastic that one is left with a desire for more.  And it would certainly be more.  Lots and lots more.  Eight months later “Billion Dollar Babies” arrived.

 

Released: June 1972

Produced by: Bob Ezrin

 

Side One

“School’s Out” (Alice Cooper, Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith) – 3:27

“Luney Tune” (Cooper, Dunaway) – 3:36

“Gutter Cat Vs. the Jets” (Buxton, Dunaway, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim) – 4:39

“Street Fight” (Cooper, Buxton, Bruce, Dunaway, Smith) – 0:55

“Blue Turk” (Cooper, Bruce) – 5:29

 

Side Two

“My Stars” (Cooper, Bob Ezrin) – 5:46

“Public Animal #9” (Cooper, Bruce) – 3:53

“Alma Mater” (Smith) – 3:39

“Grande Finale” (Cooper, Buxton, Bruce, Dunaway, Bob Ezrin, Smith, Mack David, Leonard Bernstein) – 4:36

 

Personnel

Alice Cooper – vocals

Glen Buxton – lead guitar

Michael Bruce – rhythm guitar, keyboards

Dennis Dunaway – bass guitar

Neal Smith – drums

Bob Ezrin – keyboards

Dick Wagner – lead guitar on “My Stars”

Rockin’ Reggie Vincent – guitar, backing vocals