About a year ago, I heard the Alice Cooper record "The Last Temptation" when a friend lent it to me. I had heard that Alice was a Christian, so I was interested in listening (seems like a number of popular classic rock artists eventually converted to Christianity). I didn't really know what to expect, though I suppose I had some vague notion that it would be very "hard" metal and probably have lots of imagery about hell and the devil and scary things. Well, the second part turned out to be true, but what I also found (but hadn't expected) was an endearing depth, catchy-ness, and laugh-out-loud humor that characterizes this artist's work.
Growing up, all I knew about Alice Cooper was that he was 'shock rock,' scary, evil, immoral, and probably demonic. As I got older and began to listen to classic rock radio, I heard songs like "School's Out" and "No More Mr. Nice Guy;" both excellent examples for anyone who would like to write an enduring, hook-driven, and funny rock and roll song. This evidence presented me with a contradiction between my childhood conceptions and the reality of Cooper's music, but at the time I didn't think much of it.
Now, with "The Last Temptation," I had a great rock n' roll album that told a meaningful story about growing up and choosing allegiances in a world that is always trying to distract us from God with a sideshow circus tent full of entertainment and temptation. AND, the lyrics were clever, witty, and absurdly funny, such as in this track about a typical Generation X dilemma: I can't go to school 'cause I ain't got a gun/ I ain't got a gun 'cause I ain't got a job/ I ain't got a job 'cause I can't go to school /So I'm looking for a girl with a gun and a job and a house... with cable/ Don't you know where you are (Lost in America)
After a few months of consistently going back to this album when picking out something to listen to, I started acquiring some more albums, particularly Alice's newer releases, as well as a box set of his earlier material. "The Last Temptation" was not a fluke; throughout his career, Alice has, yes, been a leader in making theatrical music about the absurd and the grotesque---he has also done pioneering work dealing with serious issues (His album "From The Inside" examines his alcohol addiction and rehab), taken a strong stand against the immorality rampant in American culture (see the two-album cycle "Brutal Planet" and "Dragontown"), written a number of tender ballads concerning the plight of women in our society which so devalues women ("Only Women Bleed" and "Take It Like A Woman"), and...well, he's just plain funny, creepy, challenging, and entertaining, all at once.
Indeed, over the last year, Alice Cooper has worked his way into my top 20 list of favorite music artists, and I listen to something from him probably weekly, if not daily. His stage show is certainly not for the kiddies, but he has also made it to the top of my list of concerts to see before I die...right behind U2 and actually ahead of Bob Dylan.
You can find out more about Alice's music at: