Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies (Hybrid SACD edition)

by Morley Seaver

Autopsy of a Legend: Greetings, heh-heh friends. It's wonderful to have you join us tonight at the Cutting Edge Medical Centre for this autopsy of a legend. I know how excited most of you were to hear that we would be digging into this groundbreaking FIGURE known as Alice Cooper. It's not often we have a live audience for this type of thing so we have prepared a very special evening for you. Please enjoy the hors d'oeuvres that are being passed around. What's that? What are they? Well let's just say a little of this and a little of that (chuckles).

Before we begin, we apologize in advance for any obtrusive screams…I should say…sounds…that you may hear from time to time creeping out of the next room. Our….research facility is working overtime tonight and these fellows are really enthusiastic about their work.

Please take your seats and we'll get started. As you all know, tonight we have been asked to examine the premier body of work from one of rock music's most iconic bands, Alice Cooper. Cooper was alive from the late '60s to the mid '70s and the work in question is known as Billion Dollar Babies. A typical autopsy strives to find the cause of death of a subject. In this case, we hope to uncover what it was that gave this monstrosity life.

We are hoping to have a bit more insight into this work due to the release of a new edition of the record by Audio Fidelity with a Hybrid SACD (super audio CD) version, complete with the original artwork and containing the Billion Dollar Bill that was with the album. This kind of recording sort of gives your ears some glasses with which to read the fine print. The sound seems sharper in certain areas on regular CD players and will no doubt be more alive when played on the proper equipment.

Let us begin. The initial incision is now being made and…. (gasp from audience) Oh, I'm sorry about that young lady. Of course, I DID advise you not to sit in the front row unless you really wanted to experience things. Hopefully that will wash out…heh-heh.

But…uh…yes the first incision has been made in the cranial cavity. Upon folding the initial chords back, the intro song is exposed. "Hello Hooray" was a perfect way to kick off this album.

Written by Rolph Kempf, it was given an impressive makeover by producer Bob Ezrin and the Cooper crew. Check out the cover by Judy Collins sometime for a great example of contrasts. Dramatic and just vague enough that you wondered if there were more subversive forces at play than mere music. A celebration of a malevolent spirit perhaps? At any rate, the song is tremendously compelling, drawing you in like a junkie at a methadone clinic.

The closing verse almost seeks to reflect a might beast that is alive and free to walk among us. What sort of powers are being exposed here? Creepy isn't it kids?

As we move a little deeper, the tone changes gears instantly. Never one to shy away from dark humor, "Raped and Freezin'" lightens the mood with a little ditty about tables being turned in the sexual conquest department. Particularly amusing is the instrumental break adorned with Mexican trappings.

Turning our attention to the thoracic cavity, there is a surprisingly large and almost still rippling muscle known as "Elected". This is a song that was re-written from the tune "Reflected" which first appeared on their debut Pretties For You.

One of only two songs written by the entire band on this record, "Elected", was also the first single, and it's like a shot of Red Bull, flexing its considerable potential with full knowledge of the power it wields.

Moving to the ventral cavity, we are now looking at perhaps the heart of the record, the phenomenal title track. The power of this song comes off in many shapes. You are summoned to the celebration courtesy of Neal Smith's opening drum pattern, one of the most recognizable in rock history.

The Jack the Ripper chords of Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce rip through like the Psycho shower scene before Dennis Dunaway's rabid bass takes a large chunk out of your ear with an impressive run that's akin to an explosive bowel movement.

And this folks, is where we may step inside the world of Alice Cooper and realize that things are perhaps a bit more unhinged than we even imagined. Consider some of the lyrics: "We go dancing nightly in the attic, while the moon is rising in the sky. If I'm too rough, tell me. I'm so scared that your little head will come off in my hands." My god, the madness!

If we dare, let's take a look into the vertebral cavity. Examining "Unfinished Sweet", only Alice Cooper could turn a trip to the dentist into a sinister event. Most impressive is the long instrumental middle of the song that demonstrates an untapped potential which "Halo of Flies" introduced.

The now familiar dark humor of Alice Cooper comes to the fore with "No More Mr. Nice Guy". Amusing and tremendously ear-friendly, the song is a lament of an anti-hero, reviled at every turn. Unsurprisingly, sympathy was not forthcoming. (heh-heh)

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's a personal pleasure to be dissecting this case this evening as this next gem we'll dig into is perhaps my favorite Alice Cooper song. "Generation Landslide" sidesteps the frivolities of the other tracks and perhaps drops the curtain on the puppeteer pulling the strings.

The innocent opening guitar chords are quickly muddied up by some more dramatic ones and Cooper's (the vocalist) bratty "la da da da da da" sets the stage for a different kind of AC song. Introduced by a quicksand Dunaway bass pattern and then powered by a rambunctious Neal Smith rhythm, the lyrics are a curious lot, seemingly interpreted in a number of ways. Eschewing the horror-bent direction of the rest of the material, the band takes a swipe at some societal woes. A spiffy harmonic solo really adds an unexpectedly splendid trapping and a tasty Buxton (or not) solo ends the song nicely.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you can't have the sweet without the sour so this examination has to delve into the least savory of locations. Some audience members may choose to retire from the proceedings because I assure you the following will not be pretty, as we ascend into the abdominopelvic cavity. Two of the next three pieces of Billion Dollar Babies serve, topic-wise, as the most despicable, most revolting of the group's work.

As we open up "Sick Things", the measured, coagulating gait is quite unnerving and as far as the subject matter….(shivers). This song can be heart-stopping while your imagination yields all manner of scenarios. Exactly what they're referring to is the stuff of nightmares. The snake used in the live shows is the least offensive of possibilities.

In the most schizophrenic way possible, the song segues into "Mary-Ann", a real head-scratcher of a piece. Anchored by a rollicking piano, Cooper (the vocalist) delivers a song and dance number that is truly unexpected. Veering violently back into the sunlight momentarily, one can only imagine that this is one of the last moments of normalcy that this album will experience before once again slipping into lunacy. To observe the song within the landscape of the entire record is understandably chilling.

Finally in the bowels of our examination comes the real horror. If you weren't already aware you were dealing with some kind of wicked force by now, "I Love the Dead" peels off the scab and reveals the terror underneath.

With a Shakespearian flourish, Alice Cooper declare they love the dead. And while you are taking in that statement, they follow it up with mentions of bluing flesh, cadaver eyes, rotting faces and ambiguous intentions or purposes for these poor souls who have become mere playthings.

The song builds to a fever pitch of blood frenzy before culminating in the last powerful verse. Turning down the voltage for the final dramatic reading, the moment leaves you scrambling to turn on all the lights. Morbidly beautiful, "I Love the Dead" is also Alice Cooper at their most macabre.

As we draw to a close on this inspection of such an important part of rock history, there are more questions than answers. With such a formidable piece of work such as this, why did the band implode after one more record? Why was an album about Sick Things and necrophilia the most popular of the original Alice Cooper group records? Why do I love the sweet fragrance of formaldehyde? Sorry ladies and gents. I'm over-sharing.

Perhaps, in terms of the last two questions, it says as much about the makeup of the audience at large as it does of the orchestrators of said material. Perhaps listeners of the early '70s were simply ready and willing for songs that fell well below the shiny, happy ditties of the '60s. People were ready for something different. Something dark. Something menacing. And they embraced it with gusto.

The record topped the charts in the US and the UK while going #1 on all three charts of the major music trades, Billboard, Cashbox and Record World. The following tour broke all existing US records at the time, records previously held by the Rolling Stones. Obviously the audience were communal spirits, lapping up whatever the band spewed out. Pot meet kettle. It seems that this was a mere matter of synchronicity. Whatever the exact reason for acceptance, the fact remains that this album was a success because of the amazing songs. Inventive, provocative and entirely cohesively conceived and delivered. It's as simple as that.

So in closing, thank you for being on hand for this event, ladies and gentlemen. Please pick up a souvenir copy of Billion Dollar Babies on the way out and give it a spin, preferably by candlelight for true ambience. And we're always looking for volunteers here so if anybody is interested….you, sir? (sinister laugh) Thank you. First sign this waiver. Goodnight everybody. Sweet dreams.

Get your copy here.

Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies (Hybrid SACD edition)

Share this article
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Pin it Share on Reddit email this article

More articles for this artist .



News Reports
Day in Rock:
Stone Temple Pilots Star Talks New Singer And Album- Judas Priest's Glenn Tipton Updates Fans On Parkinson's Battle- Roger Daltrey Streams Title Song To New Solo Album- more

Recap: Stone Temple Pilots Jam With Joe Perry And Johnny Depp- A Perfect Circle Release 'Disillusioned' Video- Linkin Park Star Shares New Music At Surprise Fan Meetup- more

Pearl Jam Dedicate New Song's Live Debut To School Shooting Survivors- Sleep Signals Lose Everything In Tour Van Explosion- Metallica Launching Auction For A Cause- more

Tool Share Big New About News Album With Fans- Bon Jovi Suffer Record Breaking Chart Drop- Five Finger Death Punch Announce Album and Summer Tour- Pearl Jam- more

Day in Pop:
Rihanna Slams Snapchat For Chris Brown 'Would You Rather' Promotion- American Idol Teen Did Not Like Katy Perry's On-Air Kiss- Drake Breaks Stream Record- more

Page Too Rewind: Tim McGraw Collapses During Performance At Music Festival- Thomas Rhett Duets With NFL Star Peyton Manning- Harry Styles Debuts New Songs 'Anna' and 'Medicine' Live- more

Dua Lipa Cancels Shows For Emergency Surgery- Jason Aldean Plots Homecoming Show With Special Guests- Justin Timberlake Launches 'Man of the Woods' Tour- more

Brantley Gilbert's Tour Bus Burst Into Flames- Zayn Malik And Gigi Hadid Confirm Breakup Reports- Luke Bryan Releases 'Most People Are Good' Video- more


• Passport: St. Patrick's Day Edition

• Travel News, Trips and Tips: St. Patrick's Day Special Edition

• Road Trip: St. Patrick's Day Edition - 8 Things To Do In Dublin, Ireland

• Root 66: John McCutcheon- Caroline Cotter- Raven and Red

• The Blues: Savoy Brown-Albert Castiglia- Peter Parcek

• The Best Films of 2017: A Different Point of View

• Road Trip: Las Vegas- The Mob Museum

• Downes Braide Association - Skyscraper Souls

• Root 66: Patrick Coman - Tree of Life

• Afrika Mamas - Iphupho

• Dinola - Up High

• Hot In The City: Pistoleros - Silver

• The Blues: Ladies Play the Blues

• RockPile: Vexes, Jay Katana and Perfect Defect

• Billion Dollar Babies - First Ever Live Show - Flint 1977

• TBT: Phil Vassar The New Piano Man

• Dolly Spartans - Time Sides With No One

• Saxon - Thunderbolt

• Channel Dark - El Wire Pacifier

• Straw Family - Family Matters

• Junkyardfieldtrip - Self-titled

• Joe Perry - Sweetzerland Manifesto

• Ten Ton Man - Dangerous Women & A Desperate Man • more

Rock News Stories
• Willie Nelson Announces Outlaw Music Festival Lineup (top story)

• Sammy Hagar Previews New Season Of Rock & Roll Road Trip (top story)

• Judas Priest Guitarist Reveals His Favorite Flying V Players (top story)

• Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga Lead Elton John Grammy TV Tribute (top story)

• Paramore Rock NBA Star Stephen Curry's 30th Birthday Party (top story)

• Weezer's Rivers Cuomo Unplugs For Special Solo Set (top story)

• Neil Young's 'Paradox' Film Trailer Goes Online (top story)

• Singled Out: One Up! Below's Laid And Paid (top story)

• Alice In Chains Add New North American Tour Leg (top story)

• Paul Simon Reveals Final U.S. Tour Dates of Farewell Tour (top story)

• Alice Cooper Announces New North American Dates (top story)

• Arctic Monkeys Announce North American Tour (top story)

• Rare Early Beatles Photos Are Being Auctioned (top story)

• Deep Purple's Steve Morse Offers Reward For Stolen Rare Guitar (top story)

• Pearl Jam Preview New Single 'Can't Deny Me' (top story)

• Stone Temple Pilots Joined Onstage By 9-Year-Old Singer (top story)

• Jack White's New Album Features Song Written By Al Capone (top story)

• Arcade Fire Reveal Short Film Is On The Way (top story)

• Bon Iver Announce New North American Dates (top story)

• Neil Young Announces 'Paradox' Soundtrack Album (top story)

• The Cars Stream Previously Unreleased Song From Shake It Up (top story)

• Singled Out: Retrograde's You. Me. Sanity (top story)

• Stone Temple Pilots Jam With Joe Perry And Johnny Depp (top story)

• A Perfect Circle Release 'Disillusioned' Video (top story)

• Linkin Park Star Shares New Music At Surprise Fan Meetup (top story)

• Eric Clapton Announces His Only North American Shows Of 2018 (top story)

• Billy Corgan Reveals Smashing Pumpkins Have 2 New EPs Coming (top story)

• Rainbow Streaming New Single 'Waiting For A Sign' (top story)

• Jimi Hendrix 'Lover Man' Video Released (top story)

• Judas Priest Release 'Spectre' Video (top story)

• New Biopic Series Of Beatles Manager Brian Epstein On The Way (top story)

• MC5's Wayne Kramer Forms All Star Band For 50th Anniversary Tour (top story)

• The National Announce Special Release For Record Store Day (top story)

• Pearl Jam Star To Be Honored At MusiCares Concert For Recovery (top story)

• The Cure's Robert Smith Reveals His Lineup For The Meltdown Festival (top story)

• Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds TV Appearance Goes Online (top story)

• The Neighbourhood Release 'Scary Love' Video With Special Star (top story)

• Guns N' Roses Share 10-Year Old's Cover Of 'Patience' (top story)

• Singled Out: Russian Baths' Pool House (top story)

• more

B-Side Stories
• Kanye Fans Piece Together Social Media Post To Try To Solve Mystery (top story)

• Cam Announces Intimate 'Listening Room' Tour Dates (top story)

• Logic Announces 'Bobby Tarantino Vs Everybody' Tour (top story)

• Maren Morris Shows Off New Bulldog Puppy from Jon Pardi's Mom (top story)

• Tim McGraw Collapses During Performance At Music Festival (top story)

• Thomas Rhett Duets With NFL Star Peyton Manning (top story)

• Harry Styles Debuts New Songs 'Anna' and 'Medicine' Live (top story)

• Taylor Swift Releases 'Delicate' Music Video (top story)

• Beyonce And Jay-Z Announce 'On The Run 2' Tour (top story)

• Kacey Musgraves Announces World Headlining Tour (top story)

• Rae Sremmurd Release 'Powerglide' Video (top story)

• SZA Hints At A Deluxe Edition Of 'Ctrl' (top story)

• Jason Aldean Goes Retro For Father-Daughter Dance (top story)

• Katy Perry Surprises 'American Idol' Contestant with First Kiss (top story)

• Carrie Underwood's Husband Celebrates Her Birthday With Special Pic (top story)

• Kane Brown Teasing New Songs Via Social Media (top story)

• Cole Swindell Gets Special Ride With NASCAR's Ryan Blaney (top story)

• Singled Out: HILLHAR's Time Will Wait For You (top story)

• Jason Derulo Releases FIFA World Cup Anthem 'Colors' (top story)

• Selena Gomez Had Health Scare Following Kidney Transplant (top story)

• Scotty McCreery Releases New Song 'This is It' (top story)

• Jack Antonoff Talks Working With Harry Styles and Taylor Swift (top story)

• Kelsea Ballerini Does 'Online Complaint Country Songs' Game (top story)

• Riverdale Star Lili Reinhart Slams Magazine For Photoshopping Waist (top story)

• Katy Perry Reveals Hidden Talent On 'American Idol' (top story)

• Pentatonix Reveal Dua Lipa And Aaliyah Mashup (top story)

• John Legend's Wife Shares Video Of Jam With His Daughter (top story)

• Justin Bieber Lets Photos Do The Talking (top story)

• Singled Out: Trubdr Adam Road's Ain't No Love (top story)

• more

Follow Us:

Contact Us - Privacy - antiMusic Email - Why we are antiMusic

Copyright© 1998 - 2016 Iconoclast Entertainment Group All rights reserved.

Please click here for legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to this site. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the terms of use.