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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Alice Cooper: Special Forces


1) Who Do You Think We Are; 2) Seven & Seven Is; 3) Prettiest Cop On The Block; 4) Don't Talk Old To Me; 5) Generation Landslide; 6) Skeletons In The Closet; 7) You Want It, You Got It; 8) You Look Good In Rags; 9) You're A Movie; 10) Vicious Rumours.

When looked at in its proper context, there is only one thing that might be wrong with Flush The Fashion — it digests the sounds of the new age with care and intelligence, but perhaps a bit too obnoxiously. It's like: "I'm Alice Cooper and now I sound like all these new guys with funny hair­styles! Let me join the club, I'm worthy!"

Well, Alice did get a haircut around the time Special Forces came out, but, more importantly, he toned down the sci-fi keyboards a bit, retaining the New Wave elements that modernized his image but no longer putting them at the forefront of his melodies. And so, his new album is every bit as fun, catchy, and clever as the old one — and it sounds less dated today.

For the critics, it was another clear sign of how confused, out-of-touch and generally lost Alice Cooper became in the post-glam world. A «techno» reworking of Love's 'Seven & Seven Is'? A pseudo-live re-recording of 'Generation Landslide' that adds nothing (good) to the original? The idiot stutter on 'You Want It, You Got It'? Straightahead mockery of his old scary image in 'Ske­letons In The Closet'? Who needs all this in the wake of the Clash and U2?

For those who like their Alice Cooper confused and out-of-touch, though, most, if not all, of this record will be super-enjoyable. First, it contains at least two of his best written pop-rock melodies in 'Who Do You Think We Are?' (the question has two answers, the complex 'Special forces in an armored car!' and the more simple 'We don't care!') and 'You Look Good In Rags' — ter-riff-ic guitar line, hilarious anti-socialite lyrics and an outrageous coda. Maybe alcohol was affecting his creative vein — but, for all I know, in a positive way.

'You Want It, You Got It' is a crude, clown­ish, but doggone funny poke at superstardom's ex­cesses; 'You're A Movie' returns us to the issue previously tackled with 'King Of The Silver Screen', but in a campier, grinnier way; 'Prettiest Cop On The Block' is worth it for the title alone; and 'Skeletons In The Closet', with its harpsichord theme that transforms «creepy» into «kiddie-spooky», is just a masterful send-up of all the «va­lues» of Welcome To My Nightmare that I can only imagine how it could offend all those who used to take Alice Cooper way too seriously.

Not everything works, and the idea of reworking 'Generation Landslide' remains unclear — was Alice simply trying to say that everything the original band denounced in society back in 1973 was still actual in the society of 1981, or did he simply need to fill up some empty space on the LP? — but, overall, this is an inspired, well-crafted, and thoroughly funny piece of work. Yes, it is al­so the first piece of work for which Cooper has to take all of the credit: with Wagner, Hunter, Ezrin, and even the Elton John backing band gone, I have little idea of who the players on here are, apart from the names, and presume that most of the songwriting and arranging ideas came from the Coop himself.

In a certain way, although no one realized it at the time, Special Forces must have been a preci­ous drop of humor in a musical world that was taking itself way too seriously, what with all the new musical development and the renewal of the doomed struggle to heal the world's problems with the power of music. And, just as it was during the original band's peak years, here is Alice again, with satire and heavy grinning to show how fruitless this struggle can be. Maybe he over­does the «musical slapstick» bit a little, ensuring that Special Forces will never, ever be worship­ped on the level of Killer or Billion Dollar Babies, but it still proudly deserves its thumbs up.

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