Top critical review
It Can Go to Hell?
on 17 December 2016
I have not read many biographies, but there are a few on my shelf waiting… but of the few I have read this is by far the most lacklustre. The book is presented as a biography of Alice Cooper, but not the man, rather the band or so we are told. If you want to read about Alice the man, then read Golf Monster where he tells his own story.
This is a look then at the formation of a group that shook the music world to its foundations, blasted through the early seventies climbing to the heights before tearing itself apart under the pressure put upon them by the music industry, by the lifestyle they chose to led and many other contributing factors.
It should have been epic, and yet the way it is presented is a nearly bland manner, a simple progression of the band coming together, punctuated by quotes, mostly taken from magazines and articles of the time, not from conversation with those who lived it.
Furthermore, the tale contradicts what has been told by others in other biographies and formats. Now there is more than a slight possibility that Alice (the man) remembers events slightly differently to the way they happened. Although a songwriter, he is a storyteller as well, and is not only likely to change facts to tell a good yarn but the past is a long time ago and he was living a hard, fast life. But it has to be said that many of the facts that Alice has always told are told again in the recent Super Dooper Alice Cooper Blu Ray and match up with a lot of what Shep Gorden says in his own Super Mensch release.
Despite being about the band Alice Cooper it breaks away when the band splits, and seems only to give lip service to the other four members of the group. It briefly mentions the formation of the Billion Dollar Babies Group, their first album and the reason it vanished into obscurity, but it does not really talk about the bands solo projects, the problems that beset Michael Bruce’s first solo album – which is superb, Dennis Dunaway’s various projects over the years, and indeed how Neil Smith continued the rock n’ roll dream while becoming a real estate agent at the same time. It also misses out on the entire battle Glen Buxton faced with his demons, just giving the end of a tale, how he became a farmer distanced from every part of his rock past. There are whole life times to be told, and we get Alice’s.
Or rather we get a skimming over the top, basically told through record releases and tours, with the might-have-beens. There is much more that could have been told and for what it was purported to be the book misses it all, mostly telling stories that have been told before, in a different way in a manner that is as close to bland as is possible.
One of the biggest and most interesting omissions comes (and in many ways it is understandable) when it talks about Alice’s relapse into alcoholism. It is a story that has been told before, and one that Alice seemed to use as a lesson, that to a recovering alcoholic even a sip of wine can be enough to relapse completely. But Alice recently revealed that he stumbled into replacing the alcohol addiction with a drug addiction, something that he talks about quite frankly and painfully on Super Dooper Alice Cooper. Even if this is something that is being misremembered on Alice’s part (I’m sure it isn’t) it is something that needs looking at.
There are some stories that are told that are new, especially toward the end and these do make interesting reading, but as a whole I feel the book misses the target it set for itself and could have been so much more.