Growing up in Oklahoma, finding good music was a bit of a challenge back in the day. Suuure, nowadays you have your fancy, schmancy Internet and can order any CD at anytime from anywhere, but back then we didn’t have such luxeries (yeah, we walked to school uphill both ways, too).
In 7th grade, my friends and I discovered a heavenly like being – and that being was the BMG Music Club. No longer were the metal heads of the Bible Belt limited to Wal-Mart’s shitty music selection – oh no horn flyers, for only a penny you could order 11 rockin’ cassettes. The cassettes were white, the inserts were usually missing, the cases were often cracked, and we could care less. When you first opened that box of 11 cassettes it was like Christmas for Headbangers.
One of the first 11 tapes I got from BMG was Alice Cooper’s Raise Your Fist and Yell. What I knew about heavy music was from MTV, my friends, and my dad. MTV had introduced me to Motley Crue, my friends had introduced me to Metallica, but my dad’s record collection was the first place I had ever seen Alice Cooper. to tell you the truth I didn’t even know what Alice Cooper sounded like at the time – my friends and I would just scour the BMG catalog looking for the most creepy album covers, and order them. That’s how I discovered Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast, SOD’s Speak English or Die, and this one – Alice Cooper’s Raise Your Fist and Yell.
If you’re a fan of 80’s era rock and roll, this is a must own album. It’s got all the dementia of your average Cooper album, but the music is a far cry from his old stuff. The style on the album is more on par with other rock bands of the era – think Bulletboys or even Ratt for that matter. This is the album before Trash (you might remember the single Poison), so if you’ve heard that you know roughly what you’re in store for, although Raise Your Fist is the edgier of the two albums. Of course, the music on the disc just serves as a vehicle for Alice Cooper’s madness, plenty of which is presented throughout the 10 song lineup.
The disc opens up with “Freedom,” a rousing anthem that demands that we get our “freedom to rock” and “freedom to talk”. The chorus also demands that we raise our fist and yell. Not some of his deepest lyrics, but it works great as an album opener.
“‘cuz I never walk away
from what I know is right
but I’m gonna turn my back on you … ” – Freedom
Many of the songs on the album could be considered filler. That doesn’t make them bad, just not great singles. Still, they’re all very singable and catchy. In “Not That Kind of Love,” Cooper sings about wanting to touch, feel, and taste a girl, and tacks on “don’t get ideas, this won’t last forever.” At one point he says “I won’t be calling you to go to the prom.” Can you imagine 60 year old Alice Cooper taking anyone to the prom? What a great visual. Instead of a flower he could wear a million dollar baby pinned to his lapel. Ah shit, where was I?
Many of the songs on the album are anthems of sorts. There’s “Give the Radio Back (to the Maniac)” which talks about how he’s tired of being in school and how his friends are partying outside and he wants his radio back. Again, just thinking of Alice cramped up in one of those little school desks. “Mr Cooper, can you PLEASE take off that top hat! This is a school!” Another anthem is “Lock Me Up,” where Alice sings over and over “If you don’t like it you can lock me up, woah, oh oh oh, oooooh,” which is a message to his musical critics.
“Cover your eyes,
Cover your head,
You’ll never know what hit you
til’ you’re covered in red … ” – Lock Me Up
For all the fluff, Raise Your Fist and Yell has a couple of not only my favorite Alice Cooper songs, but some of my favorite songs of all time.
By far, my favorite song on the disc is “Chop, Chop, Chop.” If you know Alice Cooper, most of his songs are stories – this one just happens to be about a guy who performs a service for his town. Unfortunately for local prostitutes, that service is picking up local prostitutes and chopping them up, “keeping the city so clean.” I LOVE it!
“Chop, chop, chop, engine of destruction
Chop, chop, chop, a perfect killing machine
Chop, chop, chop, it’s symbiotic function
Chop, chop, chop, I keep the city so clean” – Chop, Chop, Chop
There are a couple of other classics on the disc as well. “Gail” is a song about a girl who has been dead and buried for quite sometime. As the “bugs serve time in her skeletal jail,” he wonders how the bugs will remember Gail. Later in the song, a dog sigs up a bone and wags his tail, and he wonders how the dog will remember Gail. Cool stuff. In “Roses on White Lace,” Cooper chops off the head of a former love who has betrayed him. “In my own way, I lovingly kiss the bride.” Ew.
Time To Kill is a song about a guy who’s been locked away in prison and is ready to kill when they let him out. Prince of Darkness is a song about Lucifer – not praising him, but more just the story about how he was cast out of Heaven and how he’s waiting for revenge. Of course this WAS the 80’s, so you had to have SOME Devil reference on your disc to get any sort of credibility.
I find most of Alice Cooper’s music from the 70’s to be slow and boring, and his new stuff to be just a little radio friendly. For one album through, I think he hit the nail right on the head. I’ve bought several other Alice Cooper CD’s, but ended up trading them away or selling them off. I recently bought this out of print CD off of ebay, which has totally renewed my love for it. While not all the songs are heavy hitters, they’re all singable and just this side of “pop”py, even though they all maintain an evil streak running through them.
It’s especially a great CD for road trips. Even the wife enjoys singing “Chop chop chop!” while cruising down the road. The music on Alice Cooper’s Raise Your Fist and Yell may be dated in the 80’s, but the songs themes (especially about the Devil, killing prostitutes, cutting the head off of your first true love, and demanding the right to rock) are timeless.
02. Lock Me Up
03. Gave the Radio Back
04. Step on You
05. Not that Kind of Love
06. Prince of Darkness
07. Time to Kill
08. Chop, Chop, Chop
10. Roses on White Lace