A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Hey Stoopid

Once upon a time we purchased albums based on recommendations by the rock press. Otherwise we had no idea what they sounded like until we broke the shrink-wrap and dropped the needle. Oftentimes we were surprised. For the “Hey Stoopid” album, I bought the album based on my expectations of what Alice Cooper would do after “Trash”.

Alice Copper had a string of hit albums in the Seventies. Towards the end of the decade and in the early Eighties his output was of a poor standard. Then he started to gain some momentum with two very underrated releases in “Constrictor” and “Raise Your Fist and Yell” which set him up for the massive mainstream comeback with “Trash” in 1989 and it’s hit single “Poison”. For the dummies, “Trash” was his Eighteenth studio album. Yep, Alice’s career at that point in time was eighteen albums deep.

So when it came time to record the follow-up to “Trash” another star-studded cast was assembled.

In the record label controlled era, the label wanted to achieve the same sales as the “Trash” album or more. Anything else would be deemed a failure. So a lot of cash was thrown at every body. Advance payments got paid to the songwriters, producers and engineers upfront in exchange for any future royalties earned from the album.

The whole album is like the “Super Session” formula conceived by Al Kooper. Back in 1968, Al Kooper got guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Still to play on Side One and Two respectively of a record and all they did was cover songs. Imagine that formula today. Put someone like Zakk Wylde in a room with Jared Leto and let them hash out a few covers. Then get someone like Billy Howerdel and Justin Timberlake to hash out a few more.

The Alice Cooper “Hey Stoopid” experiment takes it to a different level in every department.

The Song Writing Club

Alice Cooper is the main lyrical force. However he is not alone. Check out the list of songwriter partners.

Bob Pfeifer was an executive at Epic Records who signed Cooper to the label plus a former musician.

Jack Ponti has a long story in the music business. Originally a guitarist and his origins go back to the late seventies/early eighties New Jersey club band called “The Rest” that also had a young Jon Bon Jovi in it. The band ended up scraping enough cash to get Billy Squier involved and in the end he did nothing to push the band. Eventually the members went their separate ways.

A song that Ponti and Jovi wrote called “Shot Through The Heart” ended up on the Bon Jovi debut album released in 1984, as well as Surgin’s debut album “When Midnight Comes” released in 1985. Of course Surgin was the next band that Ponti became involved in.

Vic Pepe is another songwriter. Actually, Ponti and Pepe are the two guys that went back and did their homework on the early Alice stuff especially “Killer” and “Love It To Death” era Alice.

Lance Bulen and Kelly Keeling from the band Baton Rouge (who of course had Jack Ponti and Vic Pepe as songwriters) make an appearance as songwriters. At this point in time, Baton Rogue had two commercially disappointing albums, however the song writing team of Ponti, Pepe, Bulen and Keeling became formidable enough to lend their talents to Alice Cooper and Bonfire.

The super talented guitarist Al Pitrelli writes one song. What a music business story Al has.

Dick Wagner was back. Yep, the same Dick Wagner that co-wrote “Only Women Bleed” with Cooper back in the mid Seventies for the “Welcome to My Nightmare”.

Zodiac Mindwarp, Ian Richardson and Nick Coler lent their talents to “Feed My Frankenstein”.

Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue co-write a song and also contributed their talents on a few other songs.

Jim Vallance from Bryan Adams and Aerosmith fame is on hand to lend a hand.

Of course, the person that orchestrated the “Tras”h comeback, Desmond Child also makes an appearance.

The Producer

Peter Collins is on hand to produce having recently worked with Saraya, and notably, Rush and Queensryche. This time around, Alice Cooper wanted a sonic producer. On previous albums he wanted producers who were also song masters, somebody who could tell Alice what worked and what didn’t. That is why Bob Ezrin fit in perfectly with Alice Cooper.

“Hey Stoopid”

It’s written by Alice Cooper, Vic Pepe, Jack Ponti and Bob Pfeifer. Slash and Ozzy Osbourne make an appearance. Hard to believe that the song got no traction. Even today, on YouTube has the song at 482,974 views. Which is nothing in the grand scheme of things. On Spotify, it has a better 1,114,461 streams.

Cooper was inspired to write “Hey Stoopid” from reading sporadic mail from fans that all started to have a similar sounding theme. The title track is an anthem in the same way that ‘School’s Out’ or ‘Elected’ are and it should be heralded as such by Alice’s new generation of fans.

“Love’s a Loaded Gun”

It’s written by Alice Cooper, Vic Pepe and Jack Ponti. It’s got that “I’m Eighteen” feel and on YouTube has it at 2,268,116 views.

“Snakebite”

The sound of the rattlesnake sets the tone for the sleazy lyrics and melodies to come. It’s written by Alice Cooper, Vic Pepe, Jack Ponti, Bob Pfeifer, Lance Bulen and Kelly Keeling from the band Baton Rogue.

“Burning Our Bed”

It’s written by Alice Cooper, Al Pitrelli, Bob Pfeifer and Steve West. Joe Satriani makes an appearance.

“Dangerous Tonight”

It is an Alice Cooper and Desmond Child composition but this time is sleazy and dirty.

“Might as Well Be on Mars”

It’s written by Alice Cooper, Dick Wagner and Desmond Child. Of course it’s got that “Only Women Bleed” inspired guitar line.

“Feed My Frankenstein”

It’s written by Alice Cooper, Zodiac Mindwarp, Ian Richardson and Nick Coler.

Joe Satriani and Steve Vai communicate musically with each other throughout the song. Nikki Sixx lays down a bass groove and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark adds her sultry voice to proceedings.

“Hurricane Years”

It’s written by Alice Cooper, Vic Pepe, Jack Ponti and Bob Pfeifer. Guitarist virtuoso Vinnie Moore makes an appearance. ‘Hurricane Years’ rips off the ‘Teenage Frankenstein’ riff but it is still a powerful track in its own right,

“Little by Little”

It’s written by Alice Cooper, Vic Pepe, Jack Ponti and Bob Pfeifer. Joe Satriani is back adding his magic.

“Die for You”

It’s written by Alice Cooper, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx and Jim Vallance. Mick Mars makes an appearance on the song.

“Dirty Dreams”

It’s written by Alice Cooper, Bob Pfeifer and Jim Vallance. Vinnie Moore adds his talents to the song again. It’s classic sleaze ridden Alice.

“Wind-Up Toy”

It’s written by Alilce Cooper, Vic Pepe, Jack Ponti and Bob Pfeifer. “Hey Stoopid”, “Feed My Frankenstein” and “Loves A Loaded Gun” got the most airplay. But they were not the best tracks on the album. It’s this song. It’s a classic and equally as good as its predecessor in “Steven”. I remember one reviewer describing it as a haunting carousel ride.

“It Rained All Night”

It was a Japanese Release Bonus Track and it’s written by Alilce Cooper and Desmond Child. The first time I heard this track was today.

Alice Cooper had about fifty songs written for this record. Songs were written with the guys from Skid Row that didn’t even make it onto the album.

Then you look at the who’s who roster of quality musicians that also played on the album.

Stef Burns did most of the guitar tracks.

Hugh McDonald played bass. I believe it was his last studio gig before becoming Bon Jovi’s payroll bass player.

Mickey Curry is on drums who came from Bryan Adams and played with “The Cult”.

John Webster is on keyboards and he is part of that Bob Rock and Bruce Fairbairn crew.

Then you look at the calibre of musicians that made up his touring band.

Eric Singer was on drums. Of course he would go to become Kiss’s mainstay drummer

Derek Sherinian was on keyboards. Of course he would go on to join Dream Theater and eventually move on to a solo career.

Stef Burns from Y&T and Shrapnel guitar virtuoso Vinnie Moore stepped up as the touring guitarists.

Greg Smith, Vinnie Moore’s bass player became the new bassist.

Alice Cooper was one of the biggest rock stars of his day. Today the youth of the world might find that hard to believe, however his output and constant musical rebirths have just added to his legend.

Listen to it and re-evaluate.

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Music, My Stories

Motley Crue and Kiss at the Allphones Arena, Sydney 9th March 2013 – Part 2 – Kiss’s Set

Getting late
I just can’t wait
Ten o’clock and I know I gotta hit the road
First I drink, then I smoke
Start up the car, and I try to make the midnight show

Get up
Everybody’s gonna move their feet
Get down
Everybody’s gonna leave their seat

Its all about the show.  A lot of bands just write songs and then you have Paul Stanley who wrote songs for the show.   The intro is built for explosions, pyro and fire.  The story behind Detroit Rock City is legend by now and from tragedy you get a song stands the test of time.  37 years later it is still relevant and the Kiss fan that got killed on his way to the concert will never be forgotten.  Credit must be given to Bob Ezrin as well.  Apart from being the producer, he also was a co songwriter on this song, and the task master on Destroyer.  Coming into the Destroyer album of 1976, Bob Ezrin was coming off his recent successes with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed.  Of course Ezrin would go on to greater fame with Pink Floyd’s The Wall. 

It doesn’t matter what you do or say
Just forget the things that you’ve been told
We can’t do it any other way
Everybody’s got to rock and roll, whoo, oh, oh

Shout It Out Loud is one of those songs that just endure.  Rock N Roll was all about doing things that the conservatives wouldn’t do.  The history of rock music is littered with the same themes.  It doesn’t matter what the people in power say, we will try to do it in our own way.  This song was penned by Paul, Gene and Bob.  All the big songs from Destroyer had an Ezrin co-write.  These themes popped up again in I Wanna Rock and You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll from Twisted Sister. 

You know your man is workin’ hard
He’s worth a deuce

As described by Gene Simmons Deuce was a popular street term in the early 1970s meaning fellatio and full sex afterwards. This song is penned by Gene Simmons only.  It has also endured through the 40 odd years.  Will a song be written like Deuce these days?  Probably not.  Everyone wants to be liked these days and they do stuff that is politically correct.  Music is never about toeing the line.  There are artists out there that do it their own way but these are outliers.  They could rise amongst all the others or they could be forgotten or they could change and be part of the masses. 

She can move you and improve you
With her love and her devotion
And she’ll thrill you and she’ll chill you
But you’re headed for commotion

And you’ll need her so you’ll feed her
With your endless dedication
And the quicker you get sicker
She’ll remove your medication

Get the firehouse
‘Cause she sets my soul afire
Get the firehouse
And the flames keep gettin’ higher

The usual concert staple where Gene Simmons ‘spits’ fire and sings about the slaves men have become to women, relationships and sex.  It’s so true, we are so addicted to being loved or to having a sexual relationship, we will change and bend who we and then we get burned.  You can even see we think a lot with our penises.  Another Kiss classic penned by Paul Stanley, who to me is an underrated songwriter when he goes it alone. 

I rode the highway to heartache
I took a trip on the ship of fools, woah yeah!
And I paid the price to have my way
‘Cause money makes the rules, yeah!

Hell or Hallelujah is probably the best song Kiss has written since the Revenge album.  Psycho Circus is a close second.   It’s good to see Paul Stanley going alone again with the writing, instead of a list of outside writers, like he has done for a long time.  Life is about paying your dues, it’s about accumulating experiences.  What price are we prepared to pay to have it our own way?

How true is the last lyric line?  Money makes the rules.  There is a story at the Wall Street Journal stating that “nine executives at private-equity firms together will take home more than $1 billion in dividends and compensation from last year”.  Money buys rules.  How many of the architects of the GFC got punished.  Instead they got bailouts, generous severance payments and are doing College tours of the US.  On the other side of the coin, you had people lose their houses, their families, their lives and their sanity.     

So if you please get on your knees
There are no bills, there are no fees
Baby, I know what your problem is
The first step of the cure is a kiss

So call me (Dr. Love)
They call me Dr. Love (calling Dr. Love)

Calling Dr. Love is rock n roll all the way through. With its Cold Ethyl borrowed riff and the usual subject matter about sex, this Gene Simmons penned tune follows all the rhyming clichés. This was on the Eddie Kramer produced Rock N Roll Over.  That album didn’t stand a chance as a follow up to Destroyer. 

I was born to the human race
Livin’ life feelin’ out of place
People said I was wasting my time
Looking to find my kind

Outta This World is a song that sounds forced and fake.  This Tommy Thayer penned tune is a sad imitation to the real Space Man.  As much as Gene and Paul spin it, there is only one space man and that is Ace Frehley. It is a shame that Ace doesn’t recognise his value to the Kiss Army.  Even the banks are foreclosing on his home.  So you have an ex member of one of the biggest bands in the land, that sell everything that they can think off, and his home is getting foreclosed.  Are Gene and Paul doing creative accounting in this or is Ace just silly with his money.   

Get up!
Now it’s time for me to take my place
The make-up runnin’ down my face
We’re exiled from the human race.

You’re in the psy
You’re in the psycho circus
I say welcome to the show.

Step up!
No one leaves ’til the night is done
The amplifier starts to hum
The carnival has just begun.

Psycho Circus is about the rock experience.  It’s about the rock heads.  It’s about how the establishments treated us as exiles from the human race, before the bankers all wanted a piece of it and made it mainstream.  Then our rock idols also wanted to become bankers.  The rock show was a circus, it was a place to let our hair down and be as one.  This was penned by Paul Stanley and Curtis Cuomo.  Cuomo also co wrote a lot of songs on the Carnival of Souls album that didn’t get any attention due to all the hoopla of the original band reunion.  Psycho Circus was produced by Bruce Fairbairn and in the end he couldn’t save it either.  As much as it was hyped as a reunion Ace was more or less absent again from most of the recordings with Tommy Thayer doing most of the leads.  I didn’t mind Psycho Circus but as with every follow up album to a mega successful one it has a lot to live up too.  The intention of Psycho Circus was never to sell truckloads of albums.  It was all about putting the make up on again and being KISS.     

I love it loud, I wanna hear it loud, right between the eyes
Loud, I wanna hear it loud, I don’t want to compromise

Turn it up, hungry for the medicine
Two fisted to the very end
No more treated like aliens, we’re not gonna take it ‘cos

I Love It Loud, I Wanna Rock, We’re Not Gonna Take It and many other songs shared similar themes.   Kiss need to really credit Vinnie Vincent for their resurrection in the early 80’s.  I Love It Loud was penned by Gene Simmons and Vinnie Vincent.  This song is from Creatures of The Night.  Even though Ace is credited on album sleeves it was Vinnie Vincent that brought the guns and had Kiss firing on all cylinders again.

They try to tell us we don’t belong,
That’s alright, we’re millions strong
This is my music, it makes me proud,
These are my people and this is my crowd

These are crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights

Again another song for the rock show, making the people believe that they belong here.  Crazy Nights was co written by Paul Stanley and Adam Mitchell who he used on the Creatures of the Night album as well.  Live this song didn’t go down to good.  They key they where doing the song in was all wrong, Paul even had a capo on his guitar (which isn’t very ROCK N ROLL) and everything was just out of key.  You can tell that the band was put off. 

Better watch out ’cause I’m a war machine

That is how the rockers and metal heads felt.  Indestructible war machines.  It was an elite club once, and when the bankers and others wanted a piece of it, we didn’t like it.  Our heroes took the bankers in and they started to treat the real fans like cattle.  There is no other way to describe it.  Just look back to our record collection of the mid 80’s onwards and what you have is an album with 2 to 4 good songs and the rest is pure filler.  Of course there where always albums that rose above this, like Slippery When Wet, New Jersey, Dr Feelgood, Hysteria, Appetite for Destruction, Master of Puppets and many others.  Thank god the internet came and levelled the playing field once again.  War Machine is one of the most heaviest songs in the Kiss arsenal, up there with Unholy, yet it was co-written by Gene Simmons, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance.  The heaviest song Kiss has was written by a pop duo. 

You pull the trigger of my
Love gun, (love gun), love gun

Another Paul Stanley classic, penned on his own.  It’s part of pop culture now.  You pull the trigger of my love gun.  Growing up in the 80’s I cant recall how many times I used this line on the opposite sex, only to get laughs instead of the actual deed. 

You show us everything you’ve got
You keep on dancing and the room gets hot
You drive us wild, we’ll drive you crazy

You keep on shouting, you keep on shouting
I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day

Rock and Roll All Nite was co-written by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.  These two guys need to do more co-writing together. This is what we wanted to do.  No one wanted to work nine to five jobs.  We all wanted to be musicians.  Kiss wrote the anthem for it.  To me the Rock n Roll all night isn’t about rocking per se, it is about getting down and having dirty sex. 

Lick It Up – kneel at the altar of Vinnie Vincent.  Gene likes to rewrite history that Vinnie Vincent’s contribution to KISS was as a salary paid employee, however the music doesn’t lie.  The songs that have Vincent’s involvement are a step above the other songs Kiss released in the 80’s and the 90’s.  Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent wrote this song.  The good thing about the Lick It Up album is that it was all written within the band.  That is why it works.   Lick It Up was their big album in the 80’s.  The best songs on Creatures of the Night were also co – written by Vincent and the best songs on Revenge where also co- written by Vincent.  Of course Revenge was their big album of the 90’s. 

Don’t wanna wait ’til you know me better
Let’s just be glad for the time together
Life’s such a treat and it’s time you taste it
There ain’t a reason on earth to waste it

We all know what Paul is saying in the lyrics to the women in the world.  Make sure that no mess is left ladies.  This song killed it when it got started. 

Black Diamond is another Paul Stanley penned tune.  In the concert Eric Singer sang the song, and I must say I was impressed with his vocal abilities. 

Out on the streets for a living
Picture’s only begun
Your day is sorrow and madness
Got you under their thumb

I must say Eric Singer played the part of Catman perfectly.  If Peter Criss was there or not, I don’t think it matters, however for some reason, Tommy Thayer pretending to be the Spaceman, matters.  I am still trying to work this one out.

And the show comes to an end.  I looked over at my boys and they had Joker style grins from ear to ear.  They were tired at midnight, but pumped.  For an eight and seven year old, they are just starting out.  To me, it was great to experience the concert with them.  Kiss and Motley have the biggest arena shows and it was a perfect first concert for my boys.  Kiss where far superior on the night, more professional and tighter.

To me, one of the best concerts i went to was a Black Crowes gig at the Wollongong Entertainment Center where about 1000 tickets where sold in a venue that holds about 10,000.  The band went on and they played and they jammed, extending their songs and just having fun.  They played all of their hits, but they didn’t play them the same as the album.  The band had fun doing their extended jams and the audience had fun along with them.  This is an important fact that seems to be missing from concerts these days.  Kiss might as well have lip synced as they didn’t really do anything different with the material.

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