Monday, December 17, 2012
Hogie's Heroes: Alice Cooper
Okay, so now the 70's are becoming the 80's. The process started several years before the odometer rolled over but now extends to the point that it isn't just a question of the "New Wave" seeming "New", but also one of it's predecessors starting to seem "Old". Long hair and beards on men were no longer all that out of the mainstream, nor was kicking back casually in t-shirts and jeans. I mean, Hell, that's how half my teachers in school looked. The future of what rock music would look like was lurching forward from London, the New York City Bowery and in many ways Berlin. If we think of periods of rock culture in terms of "What Was David Bowie Lookin' Like?" (Which is an analogy which holds up well for several decades.) the hippie longhair look of Hunky Dory was old hat, the cartoony glam of Ziggy Stardust had been rendered kid friendly by KISS, so Station to Station and icy teutonic cool here we come. At this point as an adolescent in northern Vermont, I was vaguely aware that there was some strange German band called "Kraftwerk" that looked like Joseph Goebbel's glee club, but even CHOM out of Montreal wasn't giving them much airplay and I was a few years away from figuring out how to receive the college station out of Burlington. Thus it was that in a weird way the closest I came to buying a new wave record in 1980 was...Alice Cooper. Cooper had ended the 70's as a fairly successful mainstream entertainer whose once shocking stage persona was now deemed safe enough to appear on The Muppet Show and in a Marvel comic book. Recovering from a hard bout with alcoholism, Cooper possibly sensed a shift in the air and wanted a change. At any rate, the greasepaint came off, the hair got slicked back and synthesizers got front loaded. Still being something of a scifi geek at the time, I was a big enough fan of the song "Clones (We're ALL)" to buy the first of his troika of new wave inspired albums "Flush the Fashion" This was edgy stuff for not quite high school yet me, with it's splatter paint lettering and the word "Flush" right there in the title. Probably the scariest part was the less new-wavey song "Pain" which had lines like "I'm the filthiest word at the vandalized grave". This was the first record I was openly afraid to play if my Mom was in earshot, lest she have me committed. (She's still used to me listening to my 8-track of ABBA'S "Super Trooper" at this point.) It would get a lot worse, but not for a little bit.