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Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies (1973)

July 6, 2016

Windsor

Prologue
Artist #1: Pantera
Artist #2: Frank Black
Artist #3: Sleater-Kinney
Artist #4: Nas
Artist #5: Digital Underground
Artist #6: Alice Cooper

[Album 463/1001]

I found this baby for a mere 6 dollars last year, still shrink-wrapped(!), which is perhaps a first for my new-to-me 1001 albums purchases.

Naturally, such an unprecedented event had to be documented (from August 2015):

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For many moons, Alice has been among my favourite interviews.

He’s articulate, funny, and he always has something new & interesting to say.

Who else would donate one of the ‘O’s from the Hollywood sign in memory of Groucho Marx?

So the phrase, long-time fan, first-time album buyer applies for me here.

Would the art be as impressive as the artist?

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“A lot of folks look to School’s Out as the definitive Alice Cooper. While School’s Out is brilliant, it is Billion Dollar Babies that would have to make your desert island collection. Boasting four singles (“Billion Dollar Babies”, “Elected”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, and “Hello Hooray”), there is more firepower per minute in these grooves than the more eclectic School’s Out. BDB boasts everything weird and wonderful about Alice, from necrophilia to dental surgery. Yes, dental surgery! “Unfinished Sweet” is the coolest track about your molars ever recorded. Take it from LeBrain – this album is a must have, and that’s why it’s on the 1001 list!”
– Mike “LeBrain” Ladano, mikeladano.com

For many moons, LeBrain has been an articulate, funny blogger, always with something new and interesting to say. So the phrase, long-time fan, first-time-Alice-Cooper-album-review-quote-requester applies for me here, cheers Mike!220px-Alice_Cooper_-_Billion_Dollar_Babies

Mike is spot on with the weird & wonderful, firepower-filled, must-have nature of BDB.

Every time you think you know which way the album is going, the band switches gears.

For example, I certainly didn’t see the gentle, McCartney-esque Mary Ann coming in the tracklist.

Maybe I should have seen the next & final track coming, I Love the Dead (which is as cheerful as it sounds), but even by the end of the album, I was unable to anticipate the twists & turns.

Thus confirming that BDB is exactly how I hoped an Alice Cooper record would sound: intriguing, unpredictable, and above all, always theatrical.

He’s a performer, putting on a show.

A show I’d buy tickets to any day.

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Though I may not choose to make the Kingston-Windsor return journey many more times, I enjoyed turning an extended track & field commute into a productive trip & I appreciated the opportunity to immerse in these 6 albums.

I’ve also appreciated you folks coming along for the ride, thanks for reading/writing/participating in this series!

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From → 1970s

50 Comments
  1. Great road trip album.

    Yes you need to see Alice Cooper. I saw him open for Scorpions in 1996. They were both awesome.

    As for BDB, I love Dick Wagner on guitar. I did a review of Dick’s book, Not Only Women Bleed, and he has a ton of content about the glory days during this album and tour. It is a great book if you ever find a copy. I found my signed copy in the thrift store on sale for $1.50. I was a very happy camper that day.

    • I would be an ecstatic camper at that value!
      That sounds like a good read – Alice is a fascinating character, I’d be keen to explore more. School’s Out is the only other album on the 1001 but I imagine there’s plenty more that’s well worth hearing

      • Mike is definately the expert, but I would say the concept album Welcome To My Nightmare that Alice and Dick co-wrote is one of the better ones.
        It also features a Canadian from Lou Reed’s band named Prakash John on bass.

        2 other ones to try are Love It To Death and Killer.

      • All of the above sound good, thanks Brian!

  2. Did your brand new CD have a million dollar bill inside?
    Aw, shucks.

    • Something tells me Bruce that the billion dollar bill inside isn’t exactly legal tender!

      • It would be cool to try and deposit one of those bills with a first day teller at the bank.
        “I’d like to deposit 1 Beeeeeeelion Dollars!!!” (In my best Austen Powers voice while tugging at the corner of my mouth with my pinkie.)

      • I imagine they’d hold the bill under one of those lighting gadgets that checks to see if the $50 bills are fake!

      • It’s so fun to look at different things under those. Canadian Tire money looked neat.

      • ^Dr. Evil voice

  3. Three cheers for LeBrain! He always brings the good stuff…

    Agreed that this is a brilliant album and Bop gave you great pointers of where to go next too. Killer is the best Alice if you ask me. Seen him 3 times too so I can vouch that it’s a safe ticket purchase.

  4. You cracked that cd sucker open in quick fashion! Hahaha….
    Liked reading about your tastes in listening while cruising……
    Coop is a no brainer to see live…
    Even during daylight he can still perform as I seen him play at 7pm broad daylight(opening for Maiden) 95degress with the humidity and still giving his all…
    Great show…..and great reads here!

    • Much appreciated Deke!
      I hadn’t realized how out of practice I was at opening new CDs – like the line in Ahead by a Century, no dress rehearsal – with the camera rolling, I couldn’t do a 2nd take, could only open the CD once!

  5. Hey Geoff! Looks like you need some tips opening a CD:

    https://mikeladano.com/2013/01/04/part-158-shrink-wrap-a-video-tutorial/

    There ya go!

    • The tutorial’s appreciated Mike – I’ve been buying used copies of the 1001 albums, I’m out of practice with these still-packaged CDs!

  6. Did you catch the twist ending to Mary Anne? “Mary Anne…I thought you were my man.” Alice can’t do anything without a twist!

    Thanks for using my quote and I am glad you liked this, the first Alice Cooper album I ever bought!

    • My thanks to you Mike for the quote, I hope you’re up for a sequel when I get to School’s Out!

      • That’s great, maybe we should do a double post that day. I don’t think I’ve tackled School’s Out yet. It’s probably my favorite overall. It’s very different but great once you penetrate through the album. I mean, he does West Side Story on that one!

      • I think breaking into West Side Story would certainly qualify as another Alice twist – a double post it is!

      • Alice (and producer Bob Ezrin) are the kings of twists!

        It’s important to note Ezrin’s contributions. It’s can’t be understated.

  7. Loving the randomness of this series! I would have definitely stayed awake if these were all the albums I had, though I don’t know if I would have been the fairest judge, given the circumstances. I’ve felt the same about Alice Cooper as well. And I know his music is just the sort of thing I like, but I have to start with an album as well. I think I may have listened to School’s Out a few times years ago, but I’ll be looking for this one. I’m highly curious about “I love the dead” and the dental song.

    Have you listened/seen the stuff of Screaming Lord Sutch? Apparently, he’s the first “shock” rocker.

    • Lord Sutch was a big influence on Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, I am given to understand.

      BDB is probably the best “first” Alice album to buy that I can think of. It’s more accessible.

      • Thanks! I discovered him through the movie Telstar, and have since read up more on him and watched a few videos. He also has a very interesting political background!

      • I will have to check out that movie!

    • It was a random collection that I had in the car, I’d be curious if there’s somehow some common thread between the 6 albums/artists!
      I might not have been the fairest judge here either – though if anything, their marks would be inflated. I was so excited to be able to shut everything off but the music & the road for a few hours, so even if the albums weren’t objectively good, I probably would have still approved in some way. Maybe that’s why I can’t give star ratings!

      • I appreciate the fact that you don’t give star ratings. It’s like getting marks for an exam. Much better to get comments like “Good effort, expect more next time.” than “I give it a 3 out of 5.”

      • Your thoughtful comments are also appreciated Amrita – much preferred to a, “That was a 3 out of 5 post Geoff!”

      • Ha ha, I did feel I went a little overboard yesterday with the commenting, especially when you probably may not remember what you wrote in some of them. But, I was going through the 70s, and that’s my favourite decade. Incidentally, is there no Roxy Music or Ramones in the 1001? There must be. Also, I didn’t see the mandatory Sex Pistols review!

      • More is more when it comes to comments!
        It’s funny you mention not remembering, I had to look up what I’d said about the New York Dolls – I certainly stand by that tweet!
        There are 3 Roxy Music, 1 Ramones, and the obligatory Sex Pistols reviews appearing at some point – not sure when, but they’ll definitely be making appearances before December 2021!

  8. ianbalentine permalink

    Great write up on a terrific album. I would have to agree that it is indeed Alice’s finest moment. Love that he used Donovan on the title cut!
    I was lucky enough to see him in London, Ontario Canada back in the early ’90’s (with Motorhead as an opening act!!!), and he was everything I’d hoped he would be.

    • London ON? Motorhead & Alice Cooper?? That’s amazing!
      It’s funny, I was driving by London on the 401 while listening to these albums, was tempted to get off the highway and check out the record shops. But I remembered the downtown is a good 15 minutes from the highway, next time!

  9. One I still need to check out, Geoff. That Mike Whitshisface guy does a good job of selling it, huh? (Done a pretty good job, yourself – will get to checking sooner rather than later! )

    • Many thanks J – I’d recommend sooner of course, I’m surprised I waited almost a year between opening the CD & actually reviewing it!

  10. In terms of musical legacy and quality there’s little to choose between 1971s “Love It To Death”, “Killer”, 1972s “School’s Out” and this recording. For a new recruit to Alice Cooper’s wild and wicked world, starting with “Billion Dollar Babies” is the key to enter his dungeon of darkness.

    https://hackskeptic.com/2011/09/24/alice-cooper-billion-dollar-babies-1973-2/

  11. Love this LP too. This and Killers were the pinnacles for me, he gets a bit over the top after that for me – they were a proper band when they put out this beauty.

    • I didn’t realize how prolific the Alice Cooper band was in the early 70s – sounds like plenty of quality and quantity to hear!

      • No? What do they teach you guys in school over there?! I blame the teachers myself.

  12. Man, you opened up that shrinkwrap really easily, far better than I’ve ever done! I keep an old steak knife here on the desk for such occasions, because I long ago gave up trying to use my fingernails.

    And nothing like that first case opening on a new disc, eh? I wish we could bottle that!

    • No he didn’t, I showed him how you’re supposed to open it!

      • Haha you mean that edge of the desk trick? I didn’t see hiim do that. Mind you, it looks like he was at a rest stop on the highway, so maybe no good surface edge available.

        I’m unable to do that trick here, at my desk. The edges are all rounded!

      • No I’m referring to my video showing how it’s done. You can also use a rounded desk. Just has to be hard.

      • That’s what she said!

    • Like the new car smell – even this new CD case was a bit more rigid opening than one that’s been opened & closed many times. Though I have a feeling I’ll be opening & closing this Alice CD many times in the future!

  13. I do not own this album, but your review makes me wanna hear it. I like Alice, except for the little kid thing he did (Timmy? Tommy? something like that?, that was creepy. Mike once gave me a multi-disc ‘boxed set’ of Alice that he’d made himself, so I’m sure I heard some of these songs, but not the album fully, surely. If I see it in the shops, I’d go for it, though I wouldn’t wait for a year to open it! 😉

    Well done on this series, Geoff! Seriously, WELL DONE. And you achieved the impossible: You made the 401 hell drive into something palatable!

    • Many thanks Aaron – I luckily didn’t get stuck in too much Taranna traffic along the way, this ongoing music project really helped speed up the drive!

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