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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.