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Best Alice Cooper Band Albums: Their Studio Discography, Ranked & Reviewed
List & Guides

Best Alice Cooper Band Albums: Their Studio Discography, Ranked & Reviewed

Courting controversy and commanding sales in equal measure, the best Alice Cooper band albums are some of the wildest known to rock.

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Received wisdom usually credits either the CBGB-based New York City scene (Talking Heads, Ramones, Blondie) or the UK’s Class Of ’76 (Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Stranglers) with instigating the punk movement, yet the Alice Cooper band had already been there, done that and left the scorched earth behind them. Matching the showmanship and inherent theatricality of Alice Cooper the man with the dynamism and ambition of Alice Cooper the band, these Detroit hell-raisers electrified rock during the early 70s with a string of era-defining discs celebrated in this countdown of the best Alice Cooper band albums.

Listen to the best of Alice Cooper here, and check out the best Alice Cooper band albums, below.

7: ‘Pretties For You’ (1969)

The Alice Cooper band’s debut album, Pretties For You, bears scant relation to the hard-driving rock’n’roll that secured their legend. Instead, it falls somewhere between the quirky psych-pop of the Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and the otherworldliness of Alice Cooper’s early Straight Records labelmates Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments – Reflected was later beefed up and reinvented for the band’s 1972 smash Elected, and Sing Low, Sweet Cheerio has a certain period charm. But Pretties For You was of cult-level interest on release, and it remains something a curio among the best Alice Cooper band albums.

Must hear: Reflected

6: ‘Easy Action’ (1970)

Like its predecessor, Pretties For You, the Alice Cooper band’s sophomore album, Easy Action, was still broadly in thrall to psychedelia, though some of its themes and song titles (Return Of The Spiders; Lay Down And Die, Goodbye) offered early glimpses of the group’s future horror-rock direction. Most sources also suggest there was mutual loathing between the band and producer/long-term Neil Young associate David Briggs (in one interview, drummer Neal Smith said, “David hated our music and us. I recall the term that he used, referring to our music, was ‘psychedelic shit’”), yet for all that, Easy Action proffered some cool tunes – not least the louche, swaggering Mr & Misdemeanor and the wonderfully odd Refrigerator Heaven.

Must hear: Refrigerator Heaven

5: ‘Muscle Of Love’ (1973)

The Alice Cooper band fashioned their classic sixth album, Billion Dollar Babies, at the very height of their excess-fuelled brilliance, but they’d begun to suffer from burnout by the time they followed up with their final record together, Muscle Of Love. Their cause wasn’t helped by the absence of long-term producer/arranger Bob Ezrin and their increasingly erratic lead guitarist, Glenn Buxton (Lou Reed acolyte Dick Wagner filled in for him during the sessions), but Muscle Of Love still offers plenty to enjoy among the best Alice Cooper band albums. The robust title track and the beautifully crafted, glam-tinged Teenage Lament ’74 were both doozies, and the terrific, shoulda-been Bond theme Man With The Golden Gun presaged the widescreen brilliance of Cooper’s post-ACB solo debut, Welcome To My Nightmare.

Must hear: Man With The Golden Gun

4: ‘School’s Out’ (1972)

If the Alice Cooper band were renowned for their theatricality, they certainly caught much of their inherent flamboyance (if not the snakes and guillotines) on tape for their grandstanding fifth album, School’s Out. The ambition of the record tends to be overshadowed by the perennial appeal of the smash hit that gave it its name, yet vast swathes of the album are still pretty astounding. The band revel in their patented hard-driving rock sound on the likes of Gutter Cat Vs The Jets and the pre-punk sneer of Public Animal #9, and let Bob Ezrin run riot on the suitably titled Grand Finale, on which the producer throws in layer upon layer of brass and keyboards as one of his most outrageous production capers reaches an epic climax.

Must hear: School’s Out

3: ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ (1973)

Released at the peak of their popularity, Billion Dollar Babies was sourced from notoriously wild transatlantic recording sessions that found the group hanging with fellow hell-raisers, among them Keith Moon and Harry Nilsson. Despite the decadence, Cooper and co retained enough focus to deliver a fantastic record which equalled School’s Out in terms of ambition, yet bettered it for bite, balls and bravado. Easily one of the best Alice Cooper band albums, Billion Dollar Babies’ signature hits (Elected; No More Mr Nice Guy) still stir the blood, while the controversy-courting tracks (Raped And Freezin’; the queasy, necrophilia-related I Love The Dead) merely fanned the flames as the album set the UK and US charts alight.

Must hear: Elected

2: ‘Love It To Death’ (1971)

Having made little impression with their first two albums, the Alice Cooper band could have been on the skids. Instead, they made two of the most important decisions of their career – they quit Los Angeles for Detroit, where they found a kinship with punk forebears such as MC5 and The Stooges, and they hooked up with an ambitious young producer, Bob Ezrin, whose influence on the band’s future was immeasurable.

Though impressed with the Alice Cooper band’s theatricality, Ezrin was concerned about their ability to craft memorable tunes. However, after he began helping out with arrangements and tightened the group’s playing through lengthy rehearsal sessions, the group came up with a slew of the best Alice Cooper songs to date. Having bagged an instant Top 40 success (and a new deal with Warners) with the brilliantly angsty I’m Eighteen, ACB’s third album, Love It To Death, rapidly consolidated their position, rewarding the group with their first significant Billboard 200 placing when it peaked at No.35. The record which first showcased their classic hard-driving sound, Love It To Death is stuffed with souped-up rock’n’roll anthems (I’m Eighteen; Caught In A Dream), but it also makes space for the churning neo-metal of Black Juju and even the proto-goth dirge The Ballad Of Dwight Frye.

Must hear: I’m Eighteen

1: ‘Killer’ (1972)

You could argue that Love It To Death is the most pivotal release among the best Alice Cooper band albums, but when it comes to sheer visceral thrills, their prize platter is surely Killer: a raw, exhilarating rock’n’roll onslaught probably only equalled in Detroit’s finishing school by The Stooges’ second album, Fun House. A riot from start to finish, Killer is simply crammed with all manner of evil hoodoo, ranging from the crunching rockers Under My Wheels and Be My Lover through to the cinematic Jim Morrison tribute, Desperado, and the eight-minute prog-punk epic Halo Of Flies. Despite the moral majority inevitably missing the anti-child-abuse message inherent in Dead Babies, the record still went platinum, and influential US critic Lester Bangs’ verdict (“a strong band, a vital band, and they are going to be around for a long, long time”) still rings resoundingly true.

Must hear: Halo Of Flies

You know the best Alice Cooper band albums, now check out the best Alice Cooper songs.

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