Album Review – Billion Dollar Babies
A successful and enjoyable staple of Alice Cooper’s history.
Alice Cooper hardly needs an introduction; such is his legacy on the metal genre, the rock genre, and the music industry as a whole. Being dubbed “The Godfather of Shock Rock” by his peers in the industry, his reputation for shock theatrics on stage stemmed greatly from the Alice Cooper band’s 1973 hit album, Billion Dollar Babies.
In true Alice Cooper spirit, the album is full of themes revolving around perverse sexual tendencies, leading to more calls for censorship from self-appointed guardians of morality, especially across America. Billion Dollar Babies acted as the band’s commercial peak; it reached number 1 on the album charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom and was certified platinum (1,000,000+ copies sold) in the US.
Ultimately, the Alice Cooper band would go their separate ways in 1975, and Alice Cooper would continue his career as a solo artist whilst retaining much of the stage theatrics in his live shows that debuted during the tour supporting Billion Dollar Babies, including fake blood, mannequins and dolls, and his signature mock execution at the climax of the show.
The album begins with a cover of Rolf Kempf’s song, “Hello Hooray”, which acts an exciting and wistful opener reminiscent of a Broadway production. “Raped and Freezin’”, is a catchy track revolving around sexual harassment that highlights Michael Bruce’s keyboards and rhythm guitar, while “Elected” pokes fun of the American political scene and captures the rebellious spirit reminiscent of “School’s Out” from the previous album.
The title track features Scottish singer Donovan as a guest star sharing the vocals alongside Cooper in arguably the best song on the album. Written about romance with an inflatable doll, the track has become one of Cooper’s best-known songs, containing undeniably catchy vocals on top of excellent guitar work from Glen Buxton and a superb drum beat from Neal Smith. Up next, “Unfinished Sweet”, written about the fear of dentists, is the longest on the album, at 6 minutes and 18 seconds, and “No More Mr. Nice Guy” has over time become a true Alice Cooper hit, with a true rock and roll sound heavy on guitars and vocals embracing anti-social tendencies.
“Generation Landslide” is mostly acoustic; featuring prominent guitars and drums while Cooper utilises a harmonica during the bridge. “Sick Things” and “Mary Ann” feature slower vocals and a calmer theme which acts as a welcome intermission before “I Love the Dead” rounds out the album with upbeat guitar work and haunting vocals about the appeal of necrophilia.
Billion Dollar Babies is a successful, consistently enjoyable album, and arguably the Alice Cooper band’s best album alongside School’s Out. Alice Cooper would go on to write and produce numerous more albums after dissolving the band, and despite having a discography as extensive as his, Billion Dollar Babies remains a highlight of his legendary career.