Artist: Alice Cooper
Release date: 1986
Favorite track: “Teenage Frankenstein”
I like the darker side of things.
I’ve always found myself drawn to the sometimes ominous music of Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper. When I was in high school, I taped pictures of Rob Zombie to my notebooks.
I think everyone has their version of a dark side, and music is one way to express it.
Alice Cooper’s playfully evil ninth solo album, “Constrictor,” is one of my favorites. The record was a success, though not necessarily a raging one.
I think it’s underrated. The album is super playable; there isn’t a song I don’t like.
For a touch of relevancy, Alice Cooper produced 1980s band Gentleman Afterdark’s “Open the Door,” which was featured recently on the Season 3 premiere of “Stranger Things.”
Almost every song on this album reminds me of another artist — but I mean this as a good thing. Alice Cooper reminds me of all of my favorite songs and musicians, and I have to think it’s because they influence each other.
The opening track, “Teenage Frankenstein,” immediately reminded me of some of my favorite Rob Zombie songs. The two have toured together, they both have ties to horror movies and teamed up for the song “Hands of Death (Burn Baby Burn)."
The story of Frankenstein is sung in such a matter-of-fact manner. The tale is perfect for Alice Cooper’s peppy, yet sinister sound, so I love it as a starter song. It’s my favorite because of its lyrics.
I’m the kid on the block
With my head made of rock
And I ain’t got nobody
I’m the state of the art
Got a brain a la carte
I make the babies cry
— “Teenage Frankenstein”
“Give It Up” is more classic rock, reminding me of a Rolling Stones’ anthem like “Start Me Up.” OK, maybe it’s just because it’s a similar phrase and the syllables are the same. “Crawlin’” and “The Great American Success Story” are a little more Aerosmith.
Sorry, not sorry for all the comparisons. But, for those who haven’t yet given Alice Cooper a good look, these similarities will give you an idea of why you should.
“Thrill My Gorilla” is a little playful like the Beastie Boys. The first three songs keep the same up-tempo rhythm that keeps this record so lighthearted and fun.
What’s especially cool about this album is “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask),” was written for the movie “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.” “Teenage Frankenstein” and “Hard Rock Summer” were also featured in the film.
Cooper’s macabre-esque style of the rock genre is most exhibited in those tracks.
“Life and Death of the Party” is proof of how versatile Alice Cooper can be. It makes me think of lace gloves and poof-y dresses, because I can picture hearing this at a prom in the 1980s. It would fit seamlessly into the “Stranger Things” Season 3 soundtrack, featuring the likes of Madonna, Peter Gabriel and Foreigner.
“The World Needs Guts” is quintessential Alice Cooper — predictably gory. It’s no surprise, as his concerts were an over-the-top affair with electric chairs, fake blood and snakes (hello, “Constrictor”). He was “The Godfather of Shock Rock.”
Darkness is Cooper’s ammo.
I absolutely love this album cover.
The boa constrictor wrapped around Cooper’s mouth framed by his jet black locks and thick rims of black around his eyes is like Halloween and Indiana Jones “Raiders of the Lost Ark” combined. The makeup and lighting is a nice nod to glam rock.
One of the things I love about old records is when I find the original owner's name written on the cover. My copy of "Constrictor" was formerly owned by someone named Kade, who also wrote the year 1986 on the cover. Some collectors might be bothered by the vandalism, but (off the record) I love the personal history — so much so, I might someday scribble my name on all of my records.