Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Alice Cooper ~ Classicks (live, hits comp)


(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: shock rock, heavy metal, hard rock, greatest hits, live
Label: Epic

Year: 1995
Home: Arizona

Members: Al Pitrelli, Stef Burns ~ guitar/b. vocals
John McCurry, Pete Freezin' ~ guitar
Hugh McDonald, T-Bone Caradonna ~ bass

Derek Sherinian ~ keyboards/b. vocals
Greg Smith ~ bass/b. vocals
Jonathan Mover, Bobby Chouinard, Mickey Currey, David Uosikkinen ~ drums
Robert Bailey, Alan St. John, John Webster, Steve Croes ~ keyboards
Additional: Dan Wexler ~ guitar
Zachary Nevel, Vic Pepe, Tony Palmucci, Scott Bender, Corkey McClennan, Lance Bulen, Terry Wood, Shaun Murphy, Sherwood Ball, Cali, Gary Falcone, Ian Richardson, Nick Coler, Mick Wilson, Mike Finnigan, Stan Bush ~ b. vocals


Guests: Slash, Steve Vai, Joe Perry ~ guitar
Ozzy Osbourne, Chris Cornell, Kelly Keeling, Jack Ponti ~ b. vocals
Joe Satriani ~ guitar/b. vocals
Nikki Sixx ~ bass


Before reviewing this compilation/live album let me note that this was released by the label after Alice had left & thus his involvement was minimal, so the outcome may not be exactly what he'd release if given full creative control. Like the Megadeth greatest hits albums released by Capitol Records after the band moved to Sanctuary Records in 2000 ... it's all about a label continuing to make money on an artist now making money for someone else. That being said ... how do you get fans to buy a greatest hits package that has tracks probably everyone already has in their collection? Well, you can focus the greatest hits collection on a particular theme, here being the leather era look of a now sober Alice. Next, you record a new track or two that you set beside both classic tracks & some lesser known more recent tracks. But, what do you do when your musician has left your label & thus there's no new tracks forthcoming? Of the 15 songs on Classicks, a name suggested by Alice himself, one track is a new song, albeit it's actually an underheard B-side, eight tracks are recent while six are classic tracks from the 70's but performed live by the 1989/1990 touring band. The idea is that all the tracks have the same 80's hard rock sound & not reflect the eclectic musical changes that have highlighted Alice's career. This album was looking for new generation of fans who liked one style of music & it was loud, bombastic & full of guitar. When it comes to greatest hits compilations this is one of the more unique approaches I've seen. It's right up there with Asia re-recording all their old songs for Anthology, albeit this is far more successful & enjoyable as the touring band isn't trying to duplicate which was Asia's goal. Classicks is supposed to be a greatest hits collection but the recent tracks are culled only from the then most recent Trash from 1989, Hey Stoopid & The Last Temptation, while the classic tracks are all from the Alice Cooper Band & 1975's Welcome To My Nightmare. Thus, besides lacking quite a few classic hits, there's a near fifteen year gap of recordings missing from this album making its status as a true greatest hits albums weak. Albeit, no hits really came from the ten albums released in that time, but there's a few gems such as "You & Me" that keep them from being completely forgetable though they largely are according to both fans & Alice himself in his autobiography. But, the MTV era hits are here that culled a new generation of fans, though only Trash really scored any real hits. But, though Trash spun off four videos & the most commercial success its strangely represented by the single track "Poison" while the other two albums, that might have spurred less hits but have stronger songs, are given more than their fare share of attention considering their minor commercial impact. It's almost as if Trash had gotten enough success & now the label wanted some attention on the other lesser selling albums. Alice of the late 80's/90's was a heavy metal guy, far different than his 70's/early 80's persona, brought home by the live versions on Classicks of classic Alice Cooper Band hits that are far different & more wild than their 15-20 year old studio counterparts. Taken directly from the Trashes The World video they are raw two guitar onslaughts with a high energy band including future Savatage/Megadeth/Asia/Trans-Siberian guitarist Al Pitrelli, future Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian, under-rated drummer Jonathan Mover of GTR with Steve Howe, guitarist Pete Freezin' & bassist T-Bone Caradonna. It's the band that would set the sound & look for Alice through the present day with current shows being a development of the Trash look. Eric Singer, famous for his future tenure with Kiss, would replaced Mover soon after filming the video but no official recordings of his time with the tour exist. This tour line-up, supporting the release of Trash, on this compilation only feature the band playing the classic songs. At first the live tracks sound messy & cluttered with guitars roaring in a way not heard before, though they are a perfect reflection of how Alice updated his sound for the 80's, putting aside the more prog elements of the songs for a more headbanging sound. The songs might be re-arranged but remain untouchable classics. Anyone who doesn't know the contemporary music by Alice is missing an important chunk of his career. This is a good starting point for someone unsure of if they might like his current sound, plus as a bonus it features numerous guest musicians. Personally, I'd buy The Last Temptation first, then consider this compilation or the other two studio releases if I liked what I heard. The Last Temptation has some of the most heart-breaking songs Alice ever recorded, telling the story of a boy lost in the world & eventually discovering God as this album marked Alice's Christian conversion. In many ways this is a lopsided compilation as it's featuring a studio band then a completely different live band & thus sounds like two albums. But, to hear 80's Alice one could do a lot worse. The albums on the new record label that would follow this compilation would see Alice going even heavier & into industrial & bringing the character to its scariest thus Classicks ends up the end of an era & a photograph of past glories.


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