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Alice Cooper: The Life And Crimes Of Alice Coope


Alice Cooper

Album: The Life And Crimes Of Alice Coope
Label: Rhino

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Box sets generally aren't greatest-hits collections: You have to be feel strongly enough about the artist to wade through demos, early experiments, identity shifts, rarities at one point deemed unreleasable, and, in most cases, representations of a sorry decline into mediocrity. All are more or less present in the immaculately packaged, career-spanning, 81-song, five-hour, four-disc The Life And Crimes Of Alice Cooper, which delivers the good and the disposable in almost equal measure. As is often the case with box sets containing four or more CDs, you can more or less toss the final disc aside, unless you're pining for the nostalgic thrill of revisiting such dated, turgid late-'80s/early-'90s fare as "He's Back (The Man Behind The Mask)," "Freedom," and "Feed My Frankenstein." The first installment takes a while to get going, but it's certainly a compelling lesson in evolution, as Cooper (fronting The Spiders) starts out playing relatively benign, Yardbirds-inspired pop-rock before shifting slowly into more theatrical fare, including 1970's brilliant anthem "I'm Eighteen." The disc closes with the venerable 1972 classic "School's Out," which leads nicely into a stunning second installment. Spanning Cooper's creatively fertile period between 1973 and '76—from Billion Dollar Babies to Alice Cooper Goes To Hell—it's got unimpeachable classics ("Welcome To My Nightmare"), unforgettable album tracks (the delightfully hammy "I Love The Dead"), and such finds as "I'm Flash," an essential bit of science-fiction swagger from the Flash Gordon-themed compilation Flash Fearless vs. The Zorg Women, Parts 5 & 6. By midway through the third disc, the quality of the recordings has become awfully inconsistent, though hardcore fans will be pleased with the abundance of soundtrack contributions (Roadie, Class Of '84, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (!), Monster Dog, Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives), as well as its handful of B-sides and rarities. Casual Cooper fans probably don't need to own much more than a simple greatest-hits disc, but considering his influence—besides the obvious shock-rock connection, John Lydon's liner notes essentially credit him with inspiring The Sex Pistols—his accomplishments justify this lovingly assembled overdose.