ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 9, 1999
By Steve Newton
There are a couple of ways to enjoy the best music of legendary shock-rocker Alice Cooper, and one of them is to purchase this four-disc retrospective of his work. The other is to just go out and buy his four early-’70s albums, Love It to Death, Killer, School’s Out, and Billion Dollar Babies.
Since the retail price of the Life and Crimes box hovers around $100, it would be much cheaper to pick up his classic works separately, although that way you’d miss out on some of the intriguing rarities that come with the boxed set, like a demo version of “Muscle of Love” (strangely titled “Respect for the Sleepers”) and some British Invasion–influenced tracks by Cooper’s first bands, the Spiders and the Nazz.
Then again, as Life and Crimes is an unabashed retrospective of Coop’s 30-year career and not a greatest-hits collection, it includes some substandard entries, like the songs he wrote and performed for the awful Spanish horror flick Monster Dog, as well as his ’80s pseudometal efforts (“Teenage Frankenstein”, “Feed My Frankenstein”). There’s very little of that type of generic filler on his aforementioned original LPs.
Hard-core Cooper fans will be happy to note that Life and Crimes includes an 82-page booklet packed with snazzy photos of the mascaraed one, an impressive biographical essay by Toronto rock critic Jeffrey Morgan, song-by-song commentary by Cooper and his bandmates, and in-depth liner notes.