Artist: Alice Cooper
Album: Love It To Death
Label: Warner Brothers
Released: March 9, 1971
Summary: “About the album: Love It to Death is the third studio album by the band Alice Cooper, released in March 1971. It was the band’s first commercially successful album and is considered to be where the band first consolidated its aggressive hard-rocking sound. The album’s best-known track, “I’m Eighteen”, was released as a single to test the band’s commercial viability before the album was recorded.”
Once upon a time, back when telephones were attached to the wall and televisions were made with wood, the nation was terrified of a man named Alice. In hindsight, it is hard to believe that this preacher’s son who liked to golf could have so much of an impact, but there you have it. Long hair, leather, horror movie theatrics, and some androgyny was enough to scare the parents. Most certainly that was the intent, but that’s only part of why the band Alice Cooper was popular.
March 9 marks the milestone 50th Anniversary of the legendary Detroit rocker’s break out album “Love It To Death.” Containing the unforgettable manifesto “I’m Eighteen” (the first anthem I ever embraced), and bringing me back to when I rewound the cassette over and over again, belting out the lyrics on my actual 18th birthday. It harkens to a bygone era, certainly, but it sure rocked hard for its time.
The album debuted in a cultural void, as an answer to the death of the hippie movement, and out of the evolution of glam rock in the Detroit/Ann Arbor music scene. Garage bands with a harder edge had to distinguish themselves from the flower power types, some eye makeup, a snake and magician tricks is what this band did. This album had the first real hit for the band, and revealed what would become the persona of a pop culture icon.
“Love It To Death” is also of its time in that it is readily apparent as a concept album. Not unlike another tale of the rise and fall of an icon, this nearly predicts the future while being the blueprint for concert stage shows.
1. “Caught in a Dream” Michael Bruce 3:10 Breezy lilting song about the trappings associated with the rock-n-roll dream, and ultimate disappointment, delusion, and loss.
2. “I’m Eighteen” Bruce, Alice Cooper, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith, Glen Buxton 2:59 This song fits the bill as an anthem of adolescent angst with the lyrics “I’m a boy and I’m a man, and I’m eighteen” wholly encapsulating the good news of achieving the drinking and voting age of the time and also being eligible for the draft. The Vietnam War was still going on and the draft had just been extended for another two years. It is at times a mournful lamentation about “I gotta get away” that holds a surprising amount of poignancy.
3. “Long Way to Go” Bruce 3:04 Almost rockabilly, fast-paced anthemic as well. Very slick and professional.
4. “Black Juju” Dunaway 9:14 The beginning of the performance, theatrical and ritualistic presentation that reeked of macabre. Dark and scary, taken out of context and ignoring the fiction, could be alarming, in other words, entirely successful. Processional black magic and sex positive implying that sex equals death. Certainly gives the appearance of an incantation of some kind.
5. “Is It My Body” Cooper, Dunaway, Bruce, Smith, Buxton 2:34 Sexy and bluesy, which is worse in some ways to the status quo. “what does it take to get inside of your mind” “have you got the time to find out who I really am.” The seductiveness of corruption is what really disturbed.
6. “Hallowed Be My Name” Smith 2:30 Another processional with a real anti-hypocrite take on religiosity that would have been deemed blasphemous.
7. “Second Coming” Cooper 3:04 Another staple in the live show straight jacket to execution series. “it would be nice to walk upon the water.” Rock star as sacrifice and Christ figure.
8. “Ballad of Dwight Fry” Bruce, Cooper 6:33 Continuation of processional, mental breakdown to ultimate fall from grace. Call back to “I gotta get out of here.”
9. “Sun Arise” Harry Butler, Rolf Harris 3:50 Kind of on the nose for the whole Christ theme, but so cheerful, and the epilogue for the show.
The Bottom Line
The truly shocking for the time Alice Cooper as rock star savior to the (youthful) masses manifested a Mr. Hyde persona and built a theatrical leaning musical genre upon it. The dark humor drawn from the old black and white “B” movies that haunted the drive-in theaters in the Fifties collides with the deliberate depravity of loud music. Kids these days! Turn that damn thing down!
Top Tracks: “I’m Eighteen” is a classic rock anthem. “Black Juju” is a nightmare of horror theatrics and the birth of a legend.