The Joup Friday Album: Alice Cooper ‘From The Inside’

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Is it better to burn out than to find Jesus and excel at Golf alongside Pat Boone?

Those of us that on some subconscious level bought into the myth that I just misappropriated might be familiar with how glamorously masturbatory it can be to corkscrew oneself into the woodwork every night. But after a few years, as the herculean resilience of your youth begins to desert you, your early thirties turn into a nightmarish rapidfire montage of deeply regrettable bouts of bald-eyed sleep deprivation and burgeoning psychosis. Shredded nerves from screams piercing the wee small hours and shit smeared walls begin to take their toll and you find yourself rocking in a corner questioning who the hell you are. Then eventually the kid gets old enough to go to school and things sort of work themselves out.

But what of those lucky sumbitches whose day job demands abandon of responsibility and champions self-destruction/debasement as the ultimate in career moves? They either check-out leaving their record label one hell of a pension, or they live long enough to see themselves become a PG rated, screaming neon, Joel Schumacher interpretation of their now integrity-bereft self.

Sub-psychedelic garage band Alice Cooper were given their lucky break by Frank Zappa’s Straight Label in 1969 and ascended to God botherer-bothering Billboard chart toppers in a few short years, helped no doubt by Charles Manson’s Sharon Tate-splattered full stop on the 1960s. Their back catalog’s horrors originated in the very real monstrosities of dead, neglected babies left to play with medicine cabinets, capital punishment and fragmented Vietnam Vets returning to ‘The World’ before eventually giving way to the camp theatrics that would famously populate the solo act of Grand Guignol Vaudevillain Vincent Damon Furnier, as his band acrimoniously succumbed to the pressures of success, bequeathing him sole ownership of the notorious stage name.

After just three years in charge of the volatile moniker, the alcoholic Furnier would find himself corralled into rehab at the request of his wife and manager, backed-up in no small part by his blood and vomit-smattered toilet bowl. The legend, as my 12 year old self inherited it, was that Cooper checked himself into a mental asylum to rid himself of his alcoholism, the resultant album informed by his time ‘inside’, and peppered with songs about the inmates with whom he boarded in Westchester County’s Cornell Medical Center. I recently reluctantly researched the matter and was relieved to see that the truth wasn’t that detached from this long carried around suspected fiction.

Aptly enough ‘From the Inside’ resembles a ‘Tales From The Crypt’/’Creepshow’ style Horror Anthology of stories from within a ‘lunatic asylum’, with Furnier’s own insecurities buried in not-too-deep a layer of pancake makeup, albeit with tongue pressed fairly firmly in cheek.

Cooper would go on to supplant alcohol with substance abuse resulting in a series of ‘Lost Albums’ he claims to have little-to-no recollection of penning or recording, before finally sobering-up for good in the mid eighties with the type of easily dismissed Schlock Rock he’s famous for making today. While perhaps far from his best work, ‘From The Inside’ remains the best example of the Alice Cooper most people are quick to dismiss, backed somewhat incongruously with personnel from Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ with guitarist Davey Johnstone, bassist Dee Murray and, brace yourself, lyricist Bernie Taupin.

(Please forgive these idiotic fan made videos)

Sara Farr, I know you’re way out there so you might want to nominate an alternate.

Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks is a peripheral figure on the fringes of existence. Predominantly bothering the local music scene of his native Manchester, England, he has a very finely attuned Justice-button, and knows how to call a spade a ‘Multi-Purpose Murder/Concealment Device’.

One Response to The Joup Friday Album: Alice Cooper ‘From The Inside’
  1. Shawn C Baker

    Shawn C Baker Reply

    “They either check-out leaving their record label one hell of a pension, or they live long enough to see themselves become a PG rated, screaming neon, Joel Schumacher interpretation of their now integrity-bereft self.” Fantastic. Just fantastic. I’m unfamiliar with most of Cooper’s career – although he was a headliner on my second ever concert experience, somewhere in the aethers of 1991. However, Cooper in general and this album in particular have come up several times in the last year, most recently I believe when my co-host on Dw/C Mike Wellman spoke on his Cooper fandom and the legend behind this record. I’ve been meaning to find my way to it, now sir, you have granted me the ultimate shortcut. Here goes…

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