8-The Runaways- THEE best all girl band ever!!!!!! A teen Joan Jett, A teen Lita Ford, in the SAME band?!?!?!? These ladies(?) rocked, and did it in a way so convincing that it's hard to believe they were only 16 and 17, respectively. Teen angst, against the backdrop of just wanting to get laid, has rarely (if ever) been done better. You could see glimpses of what each would become, even at this early stage. I for one, think a reunion is WAAAY overdue. "The Queens Of Noise" indeed!(since this was written, the drummer has died, and a movie telling their story has been released, but both Joan and Lita have nixed the idea of ever playing together again)
7-Paul Revere and The Raiders-Although they have gone down in the annals of music history as "Bubble Gum", they were so much more than that. Some of their stuff borders right on the line to being "Punk" These guys could ROCK, believe it! Ever wonder where Green Day gets alot of it's melodies? Look no further than this band. In their heyday, they were heralded as "America's answer to The Beatles" and they lived up to it admirably.
6-Creedence Clearwater Revival- While most of their music is deceptively simple, this band had such a "swampy groove" to their stuff, it is hard, very hard, NOT to listen to anything of their's that comes on the radio, or up in the CD player. John Fogerty had a sense of writing "the right thing at the right time" in this band, that he never seemed to have in his solo stuff. And they have what has to be THEE best version of "Heard it Through The Grapevine" ever recorded, bar none!
5-Alice Cooper-- Ok, Looking at this list objectively, I suppose the case could be made that "image" is more important to me, than the music. BUT, that just isn't true, When you factor in that, I didn't see Kiss live but once in my teens (twice since), and other than album covers, never saw them up close , saw them "moving" if you know what I mean, till the movie came out. Missed all the TV appearances, all that crap (parents being parents) , Never did, and never can see The Beatles, or Jimi, or Sweet. And except for his one appearance on The Muppet Show, NEVER saw Alice DO anything. I just had the albums to go by. Granted, in this day and age of the DVD, I can catch up on a LOT of stuff I missed out on, but the point is, My list of Favorites was set by the music, long before I ever really "saw" the people behind it Which in Alice's case was a bit easier to do, because the guy's sense of "imagry" and of "putting it across" was phenominal. When you listen to a concept album like "Alice Goes To Hell" you can "see it", you can really Imagine all those bits and pieces, the conversations with the devil, would go just that way. With even Alice poking fun at himself, by getting sent to hell, because he was leading the children into damnation.
Lyrically speaking, this man is a genius, albeit a "mad scientist" kind of genius, but genius nonetheless. I've always wondered, how does Stephen King's wife, sleep in bed each night, next to someone who can dream up such horror and terror, I would think it would have to be doubly hard for Cooper's wife, and bear in mind, he has been married to the same woman for close to 30 years(now 40)! For those of you who don't know, she is the lady Alice is beating to a pulp in the old 70's film clip of "Only Women Bleed", so, maybe she has her own issues.....lol
Alice always explained the character "Alice" as someone, that when he was a kid, he would NOT have hung around with, in fact would have been scared of. I love that statement, although I couldn't tell you why. One of my very favorite Cooper songs is on the "Muscle Of Love" album(way underrated record), and it isn't even a rock song, it's called "Crazy Little Child", and it's done in one of those "smokey ballroom" Jazzy blues kind of things, it tells the story of a small time gangster, we see how he became one, and how he dies, all in the space of 4 minutes, and all SO clear, almost as if you are watching it on a movie screen, just fucking amazing to me.
Some musical highlights for me are the way the albums all followed a theme, without really being a concept album, with the exception of "Goes To Hell" ("Nightmare" though considered one, by many, really isn't) of course. The album "From The Inside" which is a chronicle of Alice's trip through rehab, where every song is based on people he met in there, is just pure genius, and writing the entire album just had to be great therapy as well. One of my most cherished songs by Alice, is the live version of "I Never Cry", but it has to be the LIVE version, the studio cut, never moved me like this version does. I cry, or tear up, EVERYTIME I hear that version, it just is so sad, so sincere, and the delivery is so authentic. The delivery of Vincent Price's monologue on the beginning of "Black Widow" (studio version) gives me the heebie jeebies every time I hear it, and I LOVE it!!
My favorite Alice story is the one where he's on tour in the late 70's, The Boa Constrictor, that he used on stage got out of it's cage in the hotel room and disappeared (This was Alice's personal pet, by the way, thus why it was in his hotel room) Alice is looking everywhere in the room for it, when a BIG commotion starts a couple floors below, thinking it's some kind of fire he runs down there (whether to help, or run, he never said), and it turns out that the snake had gotten into the water pipes of the hotel , and resurfaced in the toilet of all people..Stevie Wonder!(some accounts have it being Ray Charles' room) Can you imagine? Alice said Wonder was cool about it, but noticably upset. They have become very good friends since, and both have stated, that they probably never would have even met, if not for that snake....lol.
In later years, now that Alice (along with Ozzy) has become one of Rock's "elder statesmen", It is amazing how intelligent that this man still comes across. After the alchohol problems, the drug problems, the getting clean, that so many around him proved less than able to cope with (and Ozzy has just become a doddering old man, except when he sings) He STILL is intelligent, relevant, and seems genuinely a nice guy. To me THAT says alot about his character as a human being.
And those records of mine by Alice Cooper, are some of my most cherished possessions.