Page 20 IT/133 IT/133 Page 21 adventures with a straitjacket and electric chair followed, keeping the audience bewildered. The suffering was so sham it was surreal. No wonder Salvador Dali offered one of his . paintings as a future LP sleeve. All the lads are former art students, as you should know by now. WHAT? You haven't been doing your homework? Since it was their debut nobody knew what to expect, apart from the publicity about sexual duality and fowl play. The show wasn't evil and it wasn't very feminine either. Alice wore black thighboots and tarantula eye make-up but he still looked pretty raunchy, and drummer Neal Smith sounded like Rocky Marciano. Their lyrics are smart and nasty but the basic sentiments are nothing new. Eric Burdon was here six years ago: we gotta get outta this place, you'll be dead before your time is due, girl there's a better life for me and you. The Animals are an obvious influence but there are plenty more. Musically, Alice Cooper are the brigh- test band of kleptomaniacs you'll ever hear. They've nicked a lick from everybody, Yardbirds, Who, Steppen- wolf, early Velvet Underground, even Country Joe-it's all there, Sixties rock hacked up and re-cycled Detroit- style. Their sound is World War III, the sound of 15 psychopaths having a destruction derby with 15 bull- dozers. Narcissism, danger and materialism are among their most perennial themes, and they surface strongly on Killer, their last album. Recorded in Chicago, it features eight songs written by the band for the band. Until this album I couldn't imagine Alice Cooper jamming, but I gotta admit their playing is now ultra-proficient. Michael Bruce offers a crackerjack chick song called Be My Lover: "Told her that I came from Detroit City, and I played guitar in a long-haired rockan- roll band, she asked me why the singer's name was Alice . . ." The longest and most ambitious number is Halo of Flies where a menacing funereal intro gallops into a tom-tom TV-space-series soundtrack. It seems that Alice is off to Monte Carlo. "Daggers and contracts and bright shiny limmos, I got a watch that turns into a lifeboat, glimmering nightgowns and poisonous cobras." A trifle obscure and long- winded, with Moog, bass solos and a neanderthal drum bash, but like all their well-built material, it enjoys a certain momentum. "Your as dead as a desert night" howls Alice on Desperado, "You're a notch and I'm a legend." Paranoia rears its ugle head amid the dive-bomber guitar stylings of You Drive Me Nervous, and there is grim story about little Betty who eats a pound of aspirin. Dead babies can't take things off the shelf. This is music to watch the News at Ten by, a half hour horror show with a slice or two of comic relief. What is life, anyway, but a bitter comedy of survival? Sometimes I have my doubts. I wonder if they'really wanna make friends with a lot of people in the danger zone. How about an album live from Alcatraz? Death Row? Attica State? Or maybe they should go to Vietnam instead of Bob Hope. Not to scare the Vietcong, just to show the GIs things are a bit wild back home. Alice says all their theatrics and gimmicks are choreographed, but not so much that it precludes improvisation. Some of the mistakes come out beauti- fully, he says. Lets hope so. At press- time I'm looking forward to their show at the Empire Pool. It should suit them since they play all the huge halls in the States, colossal basketball stadiums and roller rinks, selling out wherever they go. At their last London produc- tion I suspended judgement and became a fan. As music it's not half bad, as showbiz it's riveting and as trash it is absolutely incomparable.