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Overall Album Score: 7.9 out of 10

A stark difference from the previous album. The acid-rock pretenses are mostly gone, and what is left can be described as a ... um ... transitional album? ... I almost don't want to use that term, because Love it To Death was such a 180-degree turn for them.

What would be fairer is to say this album points to all of Alice Cooper's albums up until Welcome to My Nightmare as well as the previous one. The album title is from The West Side Story, and they quote from the movie in track #3. They would revisit that musical again in School's Out. "The Return of the Spiders" is perhaps the song that most closely resembles Love it to Death with its hard rock mentality. (That song also features some of the most energetically played drums of all time!) The opening track, "Mr. and Misdemeanor" (that also happens to be my favorite) is another reminder of theater rock.

Unfortunately, the acid-rock is a lot less convincing here. The ending track is notably pretty hard to sit through much of it ... it's so uninspired and has an extreme reliance on nonsensical sound effects. "Below Your Means" tends to drag on and on as well. The blame for this is said to be the producer, David Briggs, who didn't have much vision for this type of music. Whatever's to blame, this isn't such an enjoyable album. Cooper fans ought to appreciate some of these songs, but ... I doubt they'll like it much.

Overall Album Score: 7.9 out of 10 (The eclecticism of this groups wins me over on this one. The acid-rock posturings take a bit of a nosedive compared to the previous album.)

Average Song Score: 8.1 (The solid songwriting still tends to win out here. There's a lot of spottiness, though.)

Album Tilt: 7.5 (A stark contrast to their previous effort, the longer tracks tend to be their worst.)

Artist Rating: 8.0 (A lot of this is nonsense, but at least a high degree of creativity tends to surface more than once.)

Track Reviews

Mr. and Misdemeanor 9.5/10

This isn't a far cry from the theatrics Vincent Furnier would take on his solo Alice Cooper days. This has the charming feeling of a rejected song from Welcome to My Nightmare. The melody is catchy (which is why I can give this a high rating) but I also like the show-tune pretenses! The instrumentation is fun although it features rather simple uses of a piano, electric guitar and drum. Furnier delivers a fun vocal performance that borders on "gruff."

Shoe Salesman 9/10

This is almost a pleasant soft-rocker .......................... that's surprising because that's not the sort of thing we're used to hearing from Alice Cooper. But anyway, the song is rather pleasant and well orchestrated ... a thoughtful guitar chimes in here and there ... the bass chugs along nicely. A double coating of creativity was mercifully thrown at it, and there's some really nicely crafted rhythm changes throughout.

Still No Air 7/10

Closer to their earlier album, but it comes off as more sloppy and nonsensical than it. The structure isn't very compelling nor is the melody. The only interesting thing is that Furnier quotes from The West Side Story which he would end up doing full-fledged in School's Out.

Below Your Means 7/10

This one's a little bit too intent on featuring their instrumentalists playing not-so-amazingly. (I mean, these guys are great instrumentalist, but ... they aren't doing anything so virtuoso.) This almost seems like an acid-rock tune from their earlier album but with all the weirdness stripped away from it. There isn't much of a melody ............. it drags on for seven minutes and it's not compelling for a second. It's not painful, though ... the instrumentalists are still good, and they keep it from getting too dull.

Return of the Spiders 8.5/10

... even the song titles resembles his Nightmares days! Hmm!!!! Although the hard rock song structrure seems to point pretty closely to Love it to Death. Those drums are pounded so frequently all throughout this song that it's very nearly a drum roll. I love those drums! The lead guitarist does some excellent "noodling."

Laughing at Me 9/10

The songwriting is quite strong here with some complex phrasing. The melody is usually catchy although there's a lot of 'instrumental interludes.' It's a mid-tempoed rocker with a few interesting turns in the instrumentation. There's a lot going on here ... in barely over two minutes.

Refridgerator Heaven 7.5/10

Wind sound effects and some audience cheers opens this one. Weird guitar effects pipe up throughout the song that I can't even describe. High on creativity, but I can't for a moment pretend that I enjoy this. The melody is alright and takes a few nice turns, but it's difficult to appreciate it here.

Beautiful Flyaway 8.5/10

Furnier's endless creativity has always been his strongest point ... it's interesting to see what he comes up with in these early albums, to say the least!!! Again, I love the fact that the melody is complex ... he can really put a song together well. The drawback is this song is kind of hit-or-miss within itself. The main instrument here is a piano ... it starts out pretty dull but then it gets pretty "flighty" at the end. I can't say I'm enjoying this effort but I also think it could have been a little bit stronger somehow.

Lay Down and Die, Goodbye 6.5/10

They're trying to get back at the psychedelic rock here, but it's not nearly as compelling as it was in their earlier album. The song is off-and-on, but it's mostly off. It goes on for seven minutes and it's mostly just a collage of meaningless sound effects. It seems like I accidentally triggered a bunch of car alarms under water instead of a true psychedelic experience. ... Well, it was 1970 anyway. Time to stop thinking like that!

Ytreee Greeetea????

All reviews are copyrighted by Michael Lawrence. He's an excellent mother.