Uglies for Me
Overall Album Score: 8.2 out of 10
A lot of people who were Alice Cooper fans in the '70s think that Love it to Death was the first Alice Cooper album, but that's their third one. Before we can begin discussing this band's breakthrough album, we have to talk about about the two albums the group did beforehand. (Thanks to the advent of online downloads, these once-obscure albums can be enjoyed by all!!!!)
(Now's a good time to mention that the term 'Alice Cooper' is a confusing one. Before 1975, 'Alice Cooper' was the name of the entire band. The man who became known as Alice Cooper in 1975 was previously called Vincent Furnier. OK, now that that's cleared up.) If anything, this album proves to me what a talent this guy is. It's nothing like what this band became famous for. Instead of straight-ahead, hard-rock classics like "I'm Eighteen," we get stuff that closely resembles early Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa. This is stuff that sounds straight out of the acid '60s movement, and it's great stuff.
Granted, it wasn't revolutionary at all. But I find it just about as enjoyable as anything from that genre. It might prove how misguided I am as a reviewer, but this album achieved a similar score as Piper at the Gates of Dawn ....... but you know what a flawed classic that is.
As you might have guessed, this album is pretty messed up at times. Although, usually I'd think the songs are pretty normal if you stripped down all those freaked-out tones and cluttery sound effects. Notably "Reflected" has a very similar melody as "Elected" from Billion Dollar Babies. Usually the melodies in the album are entirely decent. The album's lesser spots are where he's trying on some of the weirdly stuctured stylings of Frank Zappa notably ... They do it well, but it's clearly not their strong point. "Today Mueller" is an interesting song, because it seems to point to Cooper's theater-rock future.
There are so many interesting songs that I want to mention them all here, so in this case I'll let my track reviews stand on their own. If you're a Cooper fan who hasn't heard this album, you may be shocked, but it's definitely worth a listen.
Overall Album Score: 8.2 out of 10 (Something that'll have to be heard to be believed. This is druggie psychedelia that's quite good, as a matter of fact.)
Average Song Score: 8.1 (A lot of interesting songs in here. Some of it's hard to take, but much of it's perfect for anyone who loves that '60s druggie stuff.)
Album Tilt: 8.5 (Raised simply for the fact that the worst songs happened to be the shortest ones.)
Artist Rating: 8.0 (Alice Cooper rules! This is a very good send-up of psychedelic acid rock.)
Titanic Overture 8/10
Alice Cooper takes the moment to begin the album with a twisted, instrumental that's ... um ... kind of like Frank Zappa except not quite as crazy. It's basically some guy playing a mellotron like an organ. It was probably made up on the spot ... a piano comes in at the end, but it doesn't do much before the fade-out.
10 Minutes Before the Worm 7.5/10
Hey ....... I miss my guinea pig. I'm a little bit worried about the guinea pig sound effects. They used to do quite awful things to chickens ... yeah, I don't trust this band. This is structureless and melodiless ... like a Frank Zappa song except it's more sloppy! (And probably more fun too.)
Swing Low Sweet Cheerio 9/10
This is more of an above average psychedelic tune. It's kind of like "Journey to the Center of the Mind" by the Amboy Dukes except worse. But these guys really put forth a decent impersonation! The instrumentals are very sloppy again, but it's fun here. The cluttered but professional instrumentals have exactly what we're supposed to love hearing out of this type of music. Nice work.
Today Mueller 8.5/10
Almost reminds me of a show-tune! (Well, hey, there's at least a vague hint at the future here.) It's a weird and sloppy song. It seems like a song and dance routine a bunch of clumsy monsters would put on. Very fun. This comes off with a good tune and the wierdness doesn't detract to it, but adds!
This is pretty good! This is another psychedelic song that fits the era pretty well. Early Pink Floyd is what this reminds me fondly of. The song has a decent melody, and there's some dark, sludgy electric guitar solos to give it that atmosphere. I love it!
Fields of Regret 9/10
I'm waiting quite patiently for this band to totally screw up. Not that I want this group to screw up ... I'm just surprised it hasn't totally happened yet. Granted, all of this heavy acid-rock posturing gets pretty heavy handed here. But it's very enjoyable! Again, I'm seeing early Pink Floyd here. It's definitely a well structured song, and they do all they can to make it weird and cluttery. It's pretty interesting, especially the electric guitar duet in the middle of it! WEIRD. WEIRD. I also like those ghost howls. (I reviewed an independent band recently who did a similar thing. Awesome!)
No Longer Umpire 7/10
Less enjoyable here ... but it's still so weird that it wasn't a wasted experience. These guys are doing all they can to prove their psychedelic nutjobs! Well, they succeed! ... They also do a great job freaking out '70s Alice Cooper fans!!!!
Levity Ball 7/10
OK ... um ... this is a similarly "heavy" song as "Fields of Regret." Maybe they did a little bit too much drugs to prepare for this one. (Not that there's anything wrong with drugs other than it's bad for you and could land you in jail.) The vocals sound distorted to me ... and barely listenable. The structure of this song is weird... it's too liquidy. Well, I guess they prove once and for all they're no Pink Floyd.
B.B. on Mars 7.5/10
Back with their crazy Frank Zappa inspired structures. Hardly over a minute long, this kind of weirdness is easiest to take in small doses! In a way, this is less alien than much of Zappa's work. I can't say why.
...Wow, I hear "I WANNA BE ELEEEEEEEECTED!!!!!!!!!" in this (from Billion Dollar Babies). The melody is decent. That with the usual addition of psychedelic weirdness makes this another enjoyable track from these crazies. (But we know they're not really crazies... at least in the Syd Barret sense. They put on a good show at least!)
Apple Bush 9/10
This must be Kate Bush's daughter! ... Oh wait it was Gwyneth Paltrow that named her daughter "Apple." OK. The song structure seems a little more poppy here ... they have a chorus and section for the instrumental interlude and everything. The cluttery guitars and busy drums make the song another weird addition to the album, but ... hey there's almost a normal song beneath this! They get a little too carried away at times, but this is pretty enjoyable. Certainly not tiresome.
Earwigs from Eternity 7/10
The sooner this band gets away from that Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart weirdness the better. Granted, it's a short song and not too difficult to take, but .......... they're testing me here.
Changing Arranging 8.5/10
Oooooohhh... It's the last song. They appropriately choose to end it with another weird one! I appreciate this weirdness for some reason... The song is structured almost normally but with its own set of twists and turns. They sound like they worked on it long enough! The harmonic sequences are staggering, and the instrumentation is ever-creative with a few rip-roaring guitar passages and assorted oddities for good effect. They're 'changing arranging' my brain!!!