I’ve always had a soft spot for Alice Cooper. No, let me rephrase that—I’ve always been a diehard Alice Cooper fanatic! It all stems from AC being the first “real” band I ever saw, back in 1972 on the School’s Out tour. I was 13 years old, and alone. To say the event was life-changing would be an understatement. The seedy, yet exciting, world of rock n’ roll was now at my fingertips and in living color! Even better—there were no grownups to be found! But, first, let’s back up just a tad…
Following their experimental and, quite frankly, bizarre debut album, Pretties For You, Alice Cooper rebounded quite nicely in 1970 with their sophomore release, Easy Action. Perhaps all they needed was a little nudge to point them in the right direction— towards eventual stardom and infamy!
To be fair, PFY did possess a handful of actual, bona fide “songs” amidst all the weirdness, most notably “Living” and “Reflected,” the latter of which being reworked years later as the Top 40 hit single “Elected!” The more things change…
But by the time Easy Action was released, the group’s collective songwriting skills had improved considerably. Gone, for the most part, were the pointless excursions into absurdity in favor of finely structured songs with verses and choruses. What a concept!
While it’s always been the hard-edged rockers that attracted me in the first place, there are a couple quality ballads here, namely “Shoe Salesman,” “Laughing At Me,’ and “Beautiful Flyaway,” all performed with precision and style.
But for my money, gimme “Return Of The Spiders,” “Refrigerator Heaven,” and “Mr. & Misdemeanor” any day of the week, thank you very much! If only the current incarnation of the Alice Cooper band would unleash these gems onstage today!
Of course, they just couldn’t resist a last gasp at psychedelic mayhem, as the album closes with the 7-minute-plus “Lay Down And Die, Goodbye” with, well, I’m not quite sure what, but they seem to be having fun at it, so we’ll let them slide, one last time! I can’t decide if it’s pure genius or the aural equivalent of the brown acid at Woodstock!
Easy Action hints at the greatness that soon would follow a mere six months later, 1971’s Love It To Death— the album that would put Alice Cooper on the map for decades to come. However, one has to wonder what might have been, had the original lineup released more than seven albums during their all-too-brief four year recording career.
All songs written by Alice Cooper, Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith.
- “Mr. & Misdemeanor” – 3:05
- “Shoe Salesman” – 2:38
- “Still No Air” – 2:32
- “Below Your Means” – 6:41
- “Return of the Spiders” – 4:33
- “Laughing at Me” – 2:12
- “Refrigerator Heaven” – 1:54
- “Beautiful Flyaway” – 3:02
- “Lay Down and Die, Goodbye” – 7:36
- Alice Cooper – Vocals
- Glen Buxton – Lead guitar
- Michael Bruce –Rhythm guitar, piano, lead vocals on “Below Your Means” and “Beautiful Flyaway”
- Dennis Dunaway – Bass guitar
- Neal Smith – Drums
- David Briggs – Piano on “Shoe Salesman”
- Alice Cooper Official Website
- See write-ups of other Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Members
- See more from 1971