OK, that may sound a little harsh but it is 100% true. On my birthday in 1989 Alice released an album that I think is the worst thing he ever put down on tape. The aptly titled Trash was released twenty seven years ago today but my disappointment in this record and Alice are still as vivid as yesterday.
It's exciting when you learn that one of your favorite bands or artists are gonna release a record on "your" day. I remember in 1980 AC/DC released their career defining Back In Black album on my birthday. While it took me awhile to get used to singer Brian Johnson as the new voice of AC/DC, there was no denying that they had made a great record. Also in 1980 Kiss made their debut performance at The Palladium in NYC with drummer Eric Carr, who had replaced the recently departed Peter Criss. Out of all the days in the year two of my favorite bands picked my birthday for these events. I felt like the coolest kid on the block.
Fast forward nine years and I am still at an age when birthdays are still exciting and seem really important. I had heard that Alice Cooper was gonna be releasing his new album on July 25th, so I knew my birthday would include a trip to the local mall to pick up his new record. I woke up bright and early on that birthday morning and could only think of one thing, I gotta get to the mall and get the new Alice Cooper record. Everything else could wait but I had to get this record. So I headed to the mall and was waiting patiently for National Record Mart to open. Once the store open I dashed in and grabbed the new Cooper record. I might add that I was the only one waiting in line but my enthusiasm for this record was like I was racing to get the last copy.
Alice had semi-retired after the release of his 1983 album DaDa. Alice was in bad shape during that time, struggling with alcohol & drug addiction and he decided to step away for a few years and get clean. Alice resurfaced in 1986 with the album Constrictor and quickly followed it up with 1987's Raise Your Fist and Yell. Both records were supported with very successful tours. Alice was healthy again and his shows during this time are considered some of his best. Alice had something to prove and you could tell he was ready to reclaim his title "the king of shock rock." I saw Alice in 1986 on the "Nightmare Returns" tour and I still consider it one of the best concerts I've ever seen. Constrictor and Raise Your Fist and Yell were both solid records but they didn't burn up the charts. Alice's concerts were sell-outs but that had not translated to record sales.
I liked the direction had gone with Raise Your Fist and Yell, it was a little more heavy metal than Alice had ever been but it worked. I had planned on getting more of the same with Trash but that was not the case. I became a little concerned when I saw the album was produced by Desmond Child. Desmond was credited with turning Kiss into a disco band. Desmond had co-wrote "I Was Made For Loving You" on Kiss' 1979 album Dynasty. Of course Desmond would go on to work with many other artists including Aerosmith, Joan Jett and Bon Jovi. Desmond had become known for his slick production work, so I was a little nervous at what his collaboration with Alice would bring.
When I got the record home and put it on the turntable I knew instantly that this was a different Alice than the one that had made Raise Your Fist and Yell. The production was very slick and big. The opening track "Poison" was pretty good but had a more commercial sound than anything in Alice's catalog. The album is loaded with special guests including Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Jon Bon Jovi, and Steve Luckather among others. It felt like Desmond had called in a bunch of favors on this record. Desmond co-wrote almost every song on Trash and every song felt like it was trying to be a hit. The weirdest thing that struck me about Trash was the New Jersey twang that Alice had developed in his vocal delivery. I was like what the hell is wrong with Alice's voice. I was underwhelmed with the entire record and my birthday was ruined. How could Alice let me down on my birthday.......I was crushed.
The irony of all this is, Trash went on to be one of Alice's biggest records and a worldwide success. It was his first platinum record in many years and the videos from the record were staples on MTV. So the direction Alice chose with Trash connected with a lot of people but not with this birthday boy.
All these years later I have still not warmed up to this record. I usually pull it out on my birthday to give it a spin but it still falls flat for me. Alice redeemed himself in my eyes with his next record, Hey Stoopid, a much better record all around. Alice has released some great records since Trash but none have been on my birthday. The only way I can see Alice making all things right with me is making a new album with all original surviving Alice Cooper Group members and releasing it on my birthday.
If that doesn't happen......I still have Back In Black!
I posted some videos below so you can decide for yourself.
Also for some further Alice Cooper reading you can check out my review of Muscle of Love here
Scott Carr is a guitarist who plays in the Columbus, OH bands Radio Tramps andReturning April. Scott is also an avid collector of vinyl records and works at Lost Weekend Records. So...if you are looking for Scott....you'll either find him in a dimly lit bar playing his guitar or in a record store digging for the holy grail.