A Chat With Alice
Muscle of Love Will Come in A Plain Brown Wrapper
After an all too brief summer vacation, it was back to the track for Alice Cooper this past September. Renting a house by the beach in Malibu, Alice and band spent the month slaving away on a new Cooper album, Muscle of Love. When not occupying their Los Angeles studios on weekdays from 2 p.m. till 3 a.m., Alice was either playing golf or hanging out his newest pal,Godfather author Mario Puzo. “They get along incredibly well,” says Alice’s manager, Shep Gordon.
The afternoon after the Bobby Riggs – Billie Jean King Battle-of-the-Sexes Tennis match Alice, clearly saddened by the crushing of hustler Riggs (whom the media have often compared with Cooper), managed to answer some queries.
Cameron Crowe: What did you think of the big game yesterday? Did you have money on Riggs?
Alice Cooper: Naw, I didn’t have anything on Riggs, even though I was sure he would win. I really had this feeling he’d win. He should have gotten some money out of the match anyway, but then again, all those endorsements… and I’m sure they’re setting up for a rematch too. We got invited to go to the match as Bobby Riggs’ guests, you know, but we had to record yesterday.
Muscle of Love is a straight forward rock & roll record, isn’t it?
That’s right. It’s very much of a back-to-the-roots album. That’s an old cliché. I know, but it’s true. Musically, I think this is our best album. It’s not complicated in any sense and there’s not a lot of theatricality on it. It’s very basic rock & roll throughout. We recorded it live in the studio. That way it doesn’t have that real clean clinical sound. That’s what I like about it.
Billion Dollar Babies was a studio effort all the way. So was School’s Out. It was just so clean that after a few times of hearing it myself, it had no mystery to it. I really wanted this one to have more guts to it. More balls.
You mentioned that it wouldn’t be as theatrical as the previous records have been. Is Muscle of Love lyrically bland?
Oh no no no no no. It’s not like “Baby, you knock me out…” or “I got the blues this morning…” The lyrics are pretty much in the same vein as “Generation Landslide.” Not so much topically as in style. They’re all flow-of-consciousness. They have that feel to them.
What’s your attitude towards criticism Billion Dollar Babies received? Most of it dealt with the over-utilization of the studio. Now, you are remedying the situation with Muscle of Love. Did the album’s critical reception influence the direction of the new album at all?
Billion Dollar Babies was Number One (laughter). That’s what counts. No, seriously, I thought if was a great album. But like I say, it was a little too clinical. Some reviewers picked up on that fact, too. I hate clean albums. That’s why this one is gonna be a lot different…Well, I can’t say a lot, because it’s still our music. It’s still Alice Cooper, but it’s certainly gonna be a different sound. Much more of a rumble feel, with a lot of creative leakage.
How did you come up with the name for the album?
I don’t know, it’s just popped up. Pardon the pun. It has a dirty connotation, doesn’t it? Only, if you really think about it, it isn’t dirty at all. Muscle of love…what are you picturing in your mind? A sex organ, right? But a muscle of love is actually your heart. Right? Right.
What about the packaging?
It’s a very rough package. It looks like somebody hijacked it off the truck before it got to the processing place. It’s a cardboard corrugated package saying “Contents: One Alice Cooper Muscle of Love.” It’s got tire tracks on it, oil stains, grease and everything. I love it.
Is Bob Ezrin producing the album?
Not this one, no. Bob’s very sick right now. He just got out of the hospital after a bad case of pnemonia. It’s okay, though. We’re getting a different feel by using Jack Richardson (Poco, Guess Who, etc.) as producer.
Will there be a Muscle of Love tour?
We’re still resting from the last one. I’ll tell you what’s gonna happen is that we’re taking the Billion Dollar Babies tour back on the road in the States for 10 days this December as a holiday tour. We’re gonna hit some of the cities we missed the first time, then go to Europe with the show in February. There’ll be a few inserts from Muscle of Love in the show. There will eventually be a Muscle of Love tour, I guess, but not immediately.
What do you think of the English release of School Days (a repackaged double album of Pretties for You and Easy Action, the first two Alice Cooper LPs)?
I love that package on that one, too. It’s terrific. It’s weird though, because those two albums are so obscure.
It seems like you’re returning to the sound you had then: raw and earthy.
Yeah, except for the fact that although those were rough and raw, the music we were doing on those albums was really, really complicated arrangement-wise. We were going out of our way to become the most arranged rock band around.
It was what a lot of bands are doing now, with intentional complication, like Emerson, Lake and Palmer. I mean, if you listen to Pretties for You…that’s tough stuff to play. It’s very complex.
At one point you said that that was your favorite Alice Cooper album.
Yeah, it was my favorite album insofar as it had the best material on it, but it certainly wasn’t recorded very well. We did the whole thing in about two hours.
You’ve also said in interviews that Laura Nyro is your favorite artist. Do you think you’ll ever come close to doing the type of thing she does?
Well, that’s really a whole different style. Mike Bruce and I have written songs like that, but we would never put them out. I think it would really disappoint a lot of people who are really behind us on the real hard rock thing…and on the theatrics. But I like that kind of music and I’ve written that type of tune. We would never record them. Then again, I can’t say never…We might just do a whole flip around and record an entire album of that type of material.
Craig Fisher of Record World adds that Alice Cooper has been doing finishing work on Muscle of Love at the Record Plant in New York, with vocal assistance from Ronnie Spector and Liza Minelli. Word is that the band will next be found in San Francisco, adding the Pointer Sisters’ supportive talents to the already distinguished album.
Courtesy of Circular (Warner Bros. Records) – Cameron Crowe – October 15, 1973