Saturday, April 19, 2008

Alice Cooper's Lost New Wave Classic

In early 1979 venerable shock-rocker Alice Cooper enlisted the help of Cars/Queen/ Devo/The Stranglers/Bowie/Cheap Trick producer Roy Thomas Baker for Flush The Fashion. If you’ve ever heard demo versions of any Cars songs, and compare them to the finished studio versions, you’ll be able to identify the influence Baker had in the studio. Slick, professional, of it’s time.

Cooper had been struggling to create a decent follow up to Welcome To My Nightmare since 1975. All the albums leading up to Flush The Fashion sounded like retreads of his past glories and he needed to sound ‘hip’ again. Thus the collaboration with Baker.

Roy Thomas Baker was a VERY hot commodity around this time and Cooper was on the downward spiral, so why Baker decided to partner with Cooper is anyone’s guess. I’m really glad they did, though. Flush The Fashion is one of Alice Cooper’s best releases, his best since Nightmare, but it absolutely sounds like nothing that preceded it.

The longest song clock’s in at 4:06 (the grand ‘Pain’), but most stay close to the 3 minute mark. It’s a ‘new wave’ album to be sure, but it is also definitely an Alice Cooper album. If the music is new wave, the lyrics are typical of his past discography. Song titles like ‘Leather Boots’, ‘Grim Facts’ and ‘Dance Yourself To Death’ are all within the boundaries of Cooper Town.
The songs, for the most part, are all tense, short bursts of energy. Choppy guitar and synthesizers rule while the albums sole hit ‘Clones (We’re All)’ would have fit nicely on a Gary Newman record. This song was even covered by faux-prog rockers the Smashing Pumpkins and remains one of Cooper’s best known to this day. Never once does Flush The Fashion sound like he's trying to appeal to the 'new wave' set, it just sounds like he's written a killer batch of songs.

It’s throwaway pop for sure, but it’s really good throwaway pop.

I’ve always believed that the early Alice Cooper Group were one hell of a great garage band, and I think Vince Furnier's late 70's and 80's exploits have done much to tarnish the reputation of this once fantastic and vital group (his severe alcoholism might have had something to do with it!)
This album, however, is his last great album. I could care less about anything he's released post 1980. If you have another opinion please share it.

"Talk Talk"
"Clones (We're All)"
"Leather Boots"
"Aspirin Damage"
"Nuclear Infected"
"Grim Facts"
"Model Citizen"
"Dance Yourself to Death"

...and here's a supremely cheesy video of Clones (We're All)...

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