ALICE COOPER – The Eyes Of Alice Cooper

ALICE COOPER - The Eyes Of Alice Cooper


Release date: September 23, 2003

Guitars & Bass: B
Percussion: B
Vocals: B
Lyrics: A
Recording Quality: A-
Originality: A-
Overall Rating: B+

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Alice Cooper (Alice) has experimented and succeeded with a host of various musical styles throughout his storybook career. Alice’s wizardry began with an unmistakable “Raunch ‘n’ Roll” style and sound exemplified by albums such as Love it to Death and Killer, then he threw in a brilliantly conceived conceptual album with Welcome to My Nightmare, later he morphed away from both styles a bit with a more thoughtful approach contained in releases such as From the Inside and Lace and Whiskey, then mixed in a touch of the “New Wave Craze” in the early 1980’s with efforts such as Flush the Fashion and Special Forces, only to fully commit to a Heavy Metal credo ever since the Constrictor album in 1986.

Enter 2003…Alice, by chance, meets Andrew Murdock, the Producer of Godsmack, and has a conversation or two. Alice basically stated he wanted to return to a more simplistic, garage-band sound in his next effort, and Murdock (or Mudrock as he typically goes by) gives his enthusiastic spin on how he can help accomplish this objective. One thing leads to another quite quickly, and the result is The Eyes of Alice Cooper. On first listen, it is quite clear this album is well produced…the music, when Alice gears it up, is raw, rough, and jumps out of the speakers to smack you in the face. Digging a little deeper into each song, however, you realize this album has significantly more to offer than just a fresh, new sound (read on, my pretties!).

As a music fan, I’ve always been amazed at Alice’s lyrics writing talent and capabilities. At times Alice can be flat out poetic…other times lightly humorous, gory, nonsensical, half demented, half serious, and often insightful without being overly complex or pretentious. In The Eyes of Alice Cooper, Alice treats the listener to his full repertoire of lyrics writing capabilities…and he clearly has messages he wishes to convey. After listening to this album several times, it becomes quite evident that the title, The Eyes of Alice Cooper, essentially means Alice’s reflections on the promises of life, and his editorials on what is fact and what is bullshit. Of course, in most songs, these messages are not the center stage theme (as is Alice’s past practice), rather, the messages are mixed in a myriad of bizarre and off-kilter song topics and musical presentations…as only the creative mind of Alice Cooper can pull off successfully. The prevailing theme within this album appears to be similar to the Erma Bombeck novel, If Life’s a Bowl of Cherries, Then Why Am in the Pits? When you wrap up all of the lyrics and song topics together, I see Alice asking two fundamental sets of questions:

1). “Tell me how was that area of my life supposed to go again? That’s what I thought. Well you know what? Here’s a dose of reality for you.”

2). “What’s left in life? Do I have any control at all over the outcome?”

Musically, Alice comes close to returning to his Raunch ‘n’ Roll days. The sound contains a heavy bass and thick guitar sound, similar in concept to his sound in the 1970’s, however, is much more cutting edge and comes through substantially clearer compared to his early works. The guitar riffs and chord patterns are curiously catchy in each song that emphasizes guitar work, and quickly grab your attention. The bass drum and cymbal sound are well integrated, however, the snare sounds a bit hollow and distant – my feel is the snare should’ve been more prominently placed. The vocals have good presence and are recorded at a suitable volume. All of the choruses (except one that I discuss below) are memorable and catchy like the guitar patterns; the lyrical verses match up with the music quite well too. Alice, as he did almost unnoticed in his first heyday, returns to the practice of weaving in horns and a variety of other instruments into several of the songs…something not normally associated with an aggressive rock album. The different sounds are meshed well, serve as a nice complement when used, and add a distinctive, desired flavor…similar to mustard and ketchup on a hotdog. Put all of this together, and I wouldn’t characterize The Eyes of Alice Cooper as a bona fide Heavy Metal album from start to finish as I would his last two efforts: Dragontown and Brutal Planet. Rather, The Eyes of Alice Cooper is a hard rock album, with Heavy Metal tendencies, that builds and strategically morph’s Alice’s past Raunch ‘n’ Roll framework into modern day acceptability.

The first track, “What Do You Want From Me?”, is aggressive and really highlights Alice’s new sound. Musically, this song is capable of destroying your speakers if played too loud. Lyrically, Alice brings his comical eyes for this one as he lists a litany of everyday and not-so-everyday signs of affection and sacrifices offered to his mate to make her happy (evidently to no avail).

Next up is “Between High School & Old School.” This song follows suit with the same “in your face” musical style as the first track. Here, Alice contemplates his outlook on life in general…the song is heavily lyrics driven and Alice looks to get the message across that although he may not be as “hip” as the younger crowd these days, he’s still a rebel at heart, though maybe with a more practical outlook since he’s been around the block a few times. Out of all 13 tracks on the album, this is the only song that has a cumbersome lyrical pattern during the chorus. Alice essentially force-feeds the chorus message…everything else, including the regular lyrical verses, work extremely well in this song. This chorus is one of the 2 main reasons this album didn’t receive an overall “A” grade (we’ll discuss the other reason at the end).

Third, is “Man of the Year”, which is a completely enjoyable tune. It has a punchy rhythm that gets moving right from the start. Alice paints a great picture in this song of a man whose life is so great that, in the end, it sucks and is totally suffocating to him. Towards the finish, the man’s blissfully perfect life comes down to his final contemplation, “If I pull this trigger in my mouth; will anybody care?”

Fourth up is “Novocaine”, a song that fully demonstrates Alice’s ability to communicate a real life message within a relatively obscure metaphor. Musically, the song is moderately fast-paced, but Alice takes off a bit of the “edge” compared to the first 3 tracks. The theme of the song has the featured individual losing the flame of passion with his mate…and clearly wanting it to return. However, he doesn’t know why it’s gone, and certainly doesn’t know how to get it back. Passion clearly has pleasure and pain associated with it…Alice takes the stance that even just being able to feel the pain part of passion again would be desirable, just as long as his current state of indifference goes away.

With “Bye Bye Baby”, Alice continues on with a similar theme as “Novocaine”, except this time the end result is a realization that sometimes the best alternative, when two people completely develop independent life styles and interests, is to just flat out quit the charade and move on.

Sixth, is “Be With You Awhile”, and is one of my favorite songs on the album. The style and content of this song is very similar to “Only Women Bleed” and “You and Me”…two absolute classic slow tunes from Alice with heartfelt, if not “mushy”, emotional content. As with those classics, Alice figuratively strips off the makeup and the hard-ass demeanor and writes an insightful “love” song, if you will. Listening to this song, I’m amazed at how Alice is so willing to shift gears into the “softy” mode like he does here, and has done so successfully in the past. In this song, Alice basically states the best things in a relationship are the simplest things, like one-on-one uninterrupted time together centered on mutual partner admiration.

Alice leaves the relationship topic with the seventh track tribute song called “Detroit City”. The song starts out very similar to “Peace Frog” by The Doors (makes sense, I guess, since Alice and Jim Morrison were good buddies), then kicks into a unique drumbeat that drives the lyrical pattern. In my opinion, the sound of this song most closely assimilates Alice’s 1970’s Raunch ‘n’ Roll sound.

The eighth track, “Spirits Rebellious”, features a really great, thick guitar sound. Alice’s message is to go with what your gut tells you to do…screw ‘em all if you’re comfortable with your decisions and others disagree!

The ninth track title, “This House is Haunted”, sounds kind of cheesy on the surface, but brings Alice back into his “Steven” days from Welcome to My Nightmare. Alice, bar none, is a true master at creating the “sad clown” character – the adult slipping back into a solitary childhood personality – in an eerie restful, psychotic state, with a self-accepted rationale for the horrific events that got him there in the first place. What makes Alice songs such as these all the better is not just the lyrics, but also the musical, multi-instrument accompaniment that paints a vividly cold and lonely setting—I can only imagine how Alice will use this song during his live performances—plenty of potential!

“Love Should Never Feel Like This” is next up. This somewhat comical song has a definite “human” message…the featured individual reflects back on the promise that when you fall in love the birds will sing, the sun will shine, and all will be right within your world. As we all know, however, when falling in love there can also be a measure of worry and apprehension because it is human nature to try like hell to put your best foot forward when you want something to happen really really bad and don’t want to do anything to schmutz it up! Falling in love, at least for a period of time, can be similar to when Shrek rescued Princess Fiona from the dragon-guarded tower…a handsome warrior was expected by Fiona, but when Shrek reluctantly unmasked himself, she realized her “champion” was a green, smelly, disheveled Ogre. I think Alice is communicating a similar message here.

Track 11 is “The Song that Didn’t Rhyme” and is another slow tempo tune featuring a 1970’s Flowerchild-type musical intro. Here Alice again shows his exemplary creative skills by making a classic song out of a completely basic concept: that being a description of a cataclysmic chain of events that occurred because a sub par song wouldn’t leave his head and seemed to continue to make its way through the musical industry system in spite of itself. What won’t leave your head after listening to this song is the well-conceived chorus…it’s simple, and stupid, and marvelous! “The melody blows; in a key that no one could find. The lyrics don’t flow; but I can’t get it out of my mind. A three minute waste of your time. No redeeming value of any kind. But thanks for the twelve ninety-nine; for the song that didn’t rhyme.”

Alice brings back his new Raunch ‘n’ Roll cutting edge sound in full force energy for the last 2 tracks: “I’m So Angry” and “Backyard Brawl”. “I’m So Angry” almost has the hard core punk rock of old sound to it – sort of like what can be heard in the Sex Pistols’ song, “God Save the Queen”. Here Alice let’s the musical interludes take more of a predominant role (thank you!), and lyrically carries forward the theme from “Bye Bye Baby”. In “Backyard Brawl”, Alice does an interesting job of making the song and vocal pattern assimilate what one might expect a true backyard brawl to sound like…you know, should you be so fortunate as to witness one firsthand. The song works as do all of them on this album.

Overall, The Eyes of Alice Cooper is indeed a success. It’s not as perfect as say Billion Dollar Babies, and probably doesn’t have any songs that will make the standard radio play charts (several of them should be given the chance for listeners to decide for themselves, but probably won’t), but it is one of Alice’s best 3 efforts in the last 25 years. Fans of Alice, especially, should respect and support this album as Alice touches on virtually all of his past musical and lyrical styles at some point, while wrapping it all up into yet another phase of his continued development as an extraordinary rock and roll artist. The music within this album is indeed a treat, and all songs score high marks for creativity, overall sound, and catchiness. Other than the chorus on “Between High School & Old School”, the only other area for improvement on this album would be a stronger reliance on the music to carry more of the songs. Each song starts out and maintains great instrumental work, however, Alice quickly moves into his lyrics and keeps them at the forefront for the remainder of virtually every song. If this album was lengthened by say 10-15 minutes (it’s just over 44 minutes long right now), this extra time could’ve been allocated to musical passages towards the middle or end of each song. Extending the musical passages and simply letting the listener further enjoy the sound would’ve been an additional shot-in-the-arm to an already impressive creation. Alice’s original Raunch ‘n’ Roll style indeed featured extended musical passages…it worked back then and it would certainly work with The Eyes of Alice Cooper because the music here is possibly stronger than any of his efforts during that era.

In the end, if you’ve never been a fan at all of any of Alice’s past works, there’s probably nothing here that would swing your perceptions of him into sudden favor. Conversely, if you’ve EVER been a fan of any of Alice’s works at any juncture, especially the Raunch ‘n’ Roll era, you should check this one out. My advice to any potential listener is to listen to this album the first few times with no distractions lurking about you; give it your undivided attention to get the full feel for everything Alice is trying to do. I’m confident you’ll enjoy the experience!


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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