About three years ago I listened to this album for the first time in about 12 years. I could not believe how great it still sounded. Of all the early 70s things that I loved, this one still kicked as good, if not better, than almost anything else I’d played in quite sometime from that old era.
The quality of the tracks stood out, but what stood out the most was the quality of the arrangements and wonderfully intricate playing by the band. There was a ton great musicians in the early Alice Cooper band. It’s great to hear hard rock played by these great studio quality musicians. It’s really too bad that the original band didn’t stay together longer.
They were the late Glen Buxton on lead, Dennis Dunaway bass, Michael Bruce rhythm, Neal Smith drums.
If you want to hear a great example of what I’m referring to when I discuss production and arrangment go no further than “Elected” play close attention to the horns parts. They build larger verse by verse, reaching a crescendo for the finally. This was quite intricate for its time. All hail producer Bob Ezrin and engineer Shelly Yakus!
I also loved the way they used Donovan on the title track. On some verses Alice sang lead with a tight harmony from Donovan. On other verses, it’s just the opposite. Nice.
I was recently reading some stories about the recording of this album on a Gibson guitar website. Most of the tracks were recorded in Connecticut while some were recorded in England. In fact, it was there that Donovan ended up sharing the vocals with Alice on the title track. Dennis explained how many rock stars of the time kept visiting the sessions, but Donovan was the only one sober enough to be able to contribute. “Harry Nilsson was there, although Bob Ezrin had to kick him out of the studio a couple of times for falling onto the control board and moving all the dials,” says Dunaway, with a laugh. “I must say, though, that even when Nilsson could barely walk he could still sing beautifully. And Keith Moon was there, along with Marc Bolan, Rick Grech of Blind Faith, and Flo and Eddie. There’s actually a tape of a jam session we all did, but as far as the music goes, it didn’t come together. It was like a typical jam from that era, at least until Bolan plugged in his guitar and started that crunchy, ‘Bang a Gong’-style chugging sound. After that, things got lively.”
Here’s something you may not know about Billion Dollar Babies. The leadoff track, and one of the strongest on the disc, “Hello Hooray” was originally recorded by Judy Collins in 1968. Send in the Glam!!
In closing, there is one more thing that I’d like to say about this album. Billion Dollar Babies is the perfect example of why I miss the vinyl days. This gate fold release had wonderful cover and artwork. You got some Alice Cooper band trading cards. (That no one ever really punched out) and also a huge billion dollar bill. It was the nuts!
- Hello Hooray (Kempf) 4:14
- Raped and Freezin’ (Bruce, Cooper) 3:15
- Elected (Bruce, Buxton, Cooper, Dunaway, Smith) 4:05
- Billion Dollar Babies (Bruce, Cooper, Smith) 3:39
- Unfinished Sweet (Bruce, Cooper, Smith) 6:17
- No More Mr. Nice Guy (Bruce, Cooper) 3:05
- Generation Landslide (Bruce, Buxton, Cooper, Dunaway, Smith) 4:31
- Sick Things (Bruce, Cooper, Ezrin) 4:18
- Mary Ann (Bruce, Cooper) 2:19
- I Love the Dead (Cooper, Ezrin) 5:08
- Alice Cooper – vocals
- Glen Buxton – guitar
- Michael Bruce – rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
- Dennis Dunaway – bass, backing vocals
- Neal Smith – drums
- Donovan – vocals on the song “Billion Dollar Babies”
- Steve “Deacon” Hunter – guitar
- Mick Mashbir – guitar
- Dick Wagner – guitar
- Bob Dolin – keyboards
- David Libert – backing vocals
- Official Alice Cooper Website
- Official Dennis Dunaway Website
- Official Michael Bruce Website
- Official Neil Smith Website
- See our piece on Alice Cooper Easy Action
- See more from 1973
- Back to the Cool Album of the Day Home Page
Here’s some more good hard rock to keep you busy.