Back to School With Alice

03-197207XX-10“Schools Out” — Alice Cooper — Warner Brothers Records

Whilst riding high on a wave of near overexposure in the press, and following a sell-out, critically acclaimed London concert, out comes Alice Cooper’s new album “School’s out’’. And after four previous albums, this one really makes it.

Musically it is far superior to anything they have done in the past, whilst Alice’s own songs and vocals have become more spectacular. The title track “School’s Out” is a teeny-bopper celebration of the start of the summer vacation. It might sound pretty banal, but wait till you hear it. Alice with his words and bizarre scream/vocals turns it into the Armageddon of all school breakups.

The group’s last albums have each had one or two outstanding tracks, but very little else. However, this time they succeed in producing an album which keeps your attention for more than just the opening track.

The second track is “Looney Tunes”, a seemingly innocent pubescent rock song, until the story takes a nasty twist. White-coated men come to take the song’s hero away. He’s just cut his wrists with a stolen razor.

This is followed by “Gutter Cat versus The Jets” which parodies the plot of “West Side Story’’; in fact it ends up being a straight rip-off from it. This theme reappears on the second side of the album, it’s influence being most noticeable in the symphonic “Grand Finale’’, which ends the album.

The record comes packaged in a facsimile of an old school desk, and the disc is itself tastefully surrounded by a pair of white non-inflammable paper knickers (see Grinspoon for further comments),

“School’s Out” will become one of the pop classics of 1972. It will be hated and ignored by the older and more staid generations, but loved by kids and those who appreciate the essence of what good rock’n’roll is all about.

Doug and Denis.

A PAIR OF WHITE KNICKERS, OR, A GIFT

I was surprised to find that inside the copy of Alice Cooper’s latest long-playing record that the nice man at Kinney (WEA) had sent me, there was a pair of white knickers.

I don’t know how they knew, but they fitted perfectly. In all this hot weather we are having at the moment it’s nice to have something so refreshingly cool to put on.

Know what I mean loves.

Julian Denys Grinspoon.

Gone with Wind

03-197207XX-10‘Gone with the Wind’
Drury Lane Theatre, Tel: 01-836 8108

About a year ago there was a real collector’s item on record issued of the Japanese cast album of SCARLETT. Now the show has come to London under its better known title of GONE WITH THE WIND and confirms what one first suspected on hearing the Japanese album that this is the first big musical comedy without a score. Sure the list has 37 items on the programme but you try and recall any of them after you leave the theatre.

For those avid collectors of shows on records the wait for the ‘original cast album’ looks like being a long one as there are no signs of a record being released after 2 months of the shows arrival in town.

Somehow they have managed to condense the entire long film plot into the show’s just under 3 hours running time. All the well remembered moments are there, even including the burning of Atlanta which is handled quite well. There’s even a horse standing patiently on stage throughout the burning scene who somehow manages to ignore the gunfire, smoke and general mayhem that takes place around him. One presumes the animal must be both blind and deaf for he hardly moves a muscle.

Most of the scenes are played out of doors, probably to save money on interior scenes. For all that it is still a costly production with all the trimmings. The dancing is pleasant to watch, and so are the costumes, and if you really want to enjoy a proper singing voice the is Isabelle Lucas as Mammy.

I’ve saved the best till last, and June Ritchie is quite something in the role of Scarlett. Whether it was intentional or not she resembles the late Vivien Leigh so much facially that at times even her voice seems to take on the same low sing-song range that endeared her performance to millions. Miss Ritchie looks lovely, has a fair singing voice and she acts up a storm. At the finish one tends to forget the lack of tunes and remember only her dazzling performance as Scarlett.

Janis Joplin The Judy Garland of Rock ’n’ Roll?

03-197207XX-10Janis Joplin: The Judy Garland of Rock ’N’ Roll?
In Concert: Janis Joplin. CBS 67241

‘Janis is gone and nothing can change that’; Janis the amazing, singing/screaming lady who took the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 by storm; Janis Joplin, one of the greatest white blues singers, died in October, 1970 aged 27.

During her short hectic career she managed to record five albums, number five being the second postumous release, and is a double album of live recordings. On record one, Janis sings with Big Brother and The Holding Company, the band she originally made it big with after moving to San Francisco from Texas. The second record is with the Full Tilt Boogie Band in accompaniment. On the latter, Janis’s voice is noticably better, being able to use her powerful voice in a far more effect and immediate way. But with Big Brother, her voice has the untrained, vital magnatism that made her the superstar she was later to become, and the superstar life she led contributed to her sad, untimely death.

On the second record, she desperately tries, between numbers, to be ‘one of the boys’, to be accepted, to be at one with the wild, restless people who were always part of her devoted audience. In her public life, she lived to the limit; singing, laughing, stomping the stage with a relentless frenzy, a bottle of Southern Comfort never far away. In reality, Janis was a lonely, depressive loner, all the screaming passion with which she sang out about love never helped her find the love and peace of mind she searched for and never found. A casulty of a world where the image of what you are, is more important than what you really are.

Many of the songs on this double set have appeared on record before, but only in a studio recorded form. ‘Try’ and ‘Get it while you can’ on side four take on wider dimensions through the freedom of a live performance, whilst ‘Ball and Chain’, which appeared previously on the ‘Cheap Thrills’ album, is one of the most moving songs I’ve ever heard.

It is good that Janis’s death has not been exploited. CBS have waited nearly two years before releasing this memorial album, which presumably will be the last previously unissued recordings to be released (although a ‘Greatest Hits’ package will, in time, no doubt appear). As a recording it is a fine reminder of what Janis was all about, unfortunately as a memorial it is also a reminder of what can happen to isolated lonely individuals in an anonymous uncaring world. Sad also is the evidence on these recordings that Janis had so much more to offer. In ‘Ball and Chain’, recorded at Calgary in July 1970, Janis breaks off the song to deliver this message ‘…. that one day better be your life …. If you get it today you don’t want it tomorrow ….. ’cause you don’t need it….tomorrow never happens. It’s all the same fucking day’. An overdose of an opiate took a great singer and a lonely individual who never came to terms with her world.