"Poison" - Alice Cooper
from the album Trash (1989)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #7 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 10
Today's song of the day comes from goth-metal artist Alice Cooper, who started out as Vincent Furnier in Detroit, and then to Arizona, and started a school rock band called the Spiders. Eventually changing the band moniker to Alice Cooper and moving to California, where he adopted a theatrical appearance with makeup, womens clothing, and a dark, dark demeanor. Releasing their debut album Pretties For You in 1969, they slipped into the albums chart down at #193. After a second album tanked, they came back to Michigan, and with Bob Ezrin produced their third effort, Love It To Death, which scored them their first pop hit with "I'm Eighteen", which went to #21 on the Hot 100. It also got Warner Brothers Records to buy them out, and the album reached the top-40, as did their next one, Killer. But it was it 1972 when their big break came, with the release of School's Out. The title track scored them their first top-ten pop hit at #7, and it also went to #1 in the UK. The album itself was huge, landing at #2 on the sales chart. Their following album, Billion Dollar Babies, made it to #1, and put three singles in the American Top-40/British Top-10. After one more album, Vincent took over the Alice Cooper name as a solo artist in his own right. His first "solo" single, "Only Women Bleed", became his biggest hit since "School's Out", rising to #12 in the U.S. in 1975. That came from his Welcome To My Nightmare album, which was his fourth consecutive top-ten album (and so far, his last). Two years later, his ballad "You & Me", gave Alice his second top-ten (and first on his own). But the toll of all this touring and theatrics took on Cooper was immense, with him hospitalizing himself for addiction. He emerged in the later part of the decade seemingly better, landing another top-20 pop hit with yet another ballad, "How You Gonna See Me Now" (#12). He even did a stint on the Muppets Show, showing how mainstream his shtick had become. However, his sobriety didn't last, and the first half of the 80s found him in a drug-induced haze. Aside from a venture into new wave that gave him a top-40 hit with "Clones (We're All)", his output was basically ignored, much like Boston rockers Aerosmith. And like that band who also struggled with substances, after emerging with an critically-liked album in 1986 that did modestly well even without radio airplay (Constrictor), he finally made a triumphant return in 1989 with his mainstreamed hard rock album Trash. Produced by Bon Jovi's go-to guy Desmond Child, the record featured cameos from Jon Bon Jovi himself and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. The first single, "Poison", was a by-the-numbers pop-metal nugget that has him growling over the youthful backup singers (not sure if they're the glam-metal model band backing him in the video...)...
"Poison" gave Alice his last top-40 hit, climbing into the top ten in November of 1989, tying the peak of "School's Out" as his highest rank. The song also climbed to #15 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock radio chart. Internationally, the single was his biggest hit in Britain, landing at #2, while also reaching the top ten in New Zealand (#2), Australia (#3), Norway (#3), Ireland (#3), the Netherlands (#8), and Sweden (#10).
While his darker rock of "Bed Of Nails" was the successful follow-up overseas, making the top-40 in the UK (#38), Australia (#13), Sweden (#18), Ireland (#24), and New Zealand (#27), in America the more Poison-esque "House Of Fire" went to radio, and even though it made the Mainstream Rock top-40 at #39, it stalled in the lower half of the pop chart at #56. Another single, the power-ballad "Only My Heart Talkin'", did better on rock radio, climbing to #19, but was a relative minor hit on the pop list at #89. In 1991, Alice's next record, Hey Stoopid, came out amidst the changing rock soundscape of grunge and emo-alternative, and the anti-drug title track became his most recent Hot 100 pop chart appearance at #78 (it made it to #13 rock, and three tracks from Hey Stoopid reached the British top-40). Another release in 1994, The Last Temptation, scored Cooper two more British top-40 hits, with "It's Me" his last at #34. He took a long break from recording, but he did return in the turn of the century and has since spun out six more independent studio albums, the most recent, 2011's "sequel" Welcome 2 My Nightmare, going to #22 on the albums chart in the US, and #7 in the UK. That same year Alice Cooper (the band) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He's also periodically run a fake campaign for president, pretty ironic now that he'd most likely do a better job than the freakshow that's coming.
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Here's Alice touring behind the album in 1990...
and finally, a show from 2013 in Germany...
Up tomorrow: A pop newcomer wants to be let in.