In ’75, Alice quit the band and Alice Cooper the group became Alice Cooper the singer once and for all. Before then there were eight (arguably more if you include some of the weirdness that’s turned up over the years) studio albums with Alice Cooper the Man fronting Alice Cooper the band.
From 1975 on wards he was what the public had always seen him as. A Monster of Rock Child Catcher figure, with stories of creatures and creepiness to peddle.
His first solo outing was a mish mash of much that had gone before. Without the band behind him, straight ahead rock was pushed back behind jazz breaks and horn sections from show tunes and movie scores. The whole thing became a score for the stage show. Even in the studio.
There are arguably two other proper rock songs on Welcome To My Nightmare. There’s the shock value single Cold Ethyl. A love song to a corpse sung from the perspective of a necrophilia fixated Morgue Attendant. The joke there is broad and crude and it wears thin quickly.
Then there’s the other single Department Of Youth. Clearly a second bite at that Elected cherry, both songs hold their own in the Cooper cannon. But the best riff, the best vibe and the real rock chops are right at the end of the album.
Escape comes after the Nightmare section of the album finishes. No more Vincent Price voice-overs or odes to giant spiders. No more scary children waking up with blood on their hands. Escape is the clouds breaking and the sunshine coming through. Because at heart Alice is the Villain of rock and must always lose to the power of the good.
“Paint on my cruel or happy face, I’m happy behind it, it takes me inside another place where no one can find it, I escape, I get out when I can, I escape”
Steven always wakes up at the end or The Monster gets captured or The Devil ‘give’s the Kid a break’. Most importantly in the show Cooper must always hang (or get the chair, or the guillotine, or one time I think he choked on a sandwich)
The Bogie-Man must disappear before the lights come up.
“I escape I’m crying in my beer, I escape, just get me out of here”
That’s been Alice Cooper Week. That’s all folks.