Muscle Of Love (1973)
Muscle Of Love is the 7th Alice Cooper album and was released in 1973. Following the success of Billion Dollar Babies, Muscle Of Love performed comparatively poorly in terms of sales and critical reception and was to ultimately signal the end of the original group. The reason for the album’s failure is more complicated than simply the quality / production of the music on offer (which is actually quite good) and more to do with the publicity surrounding the band at the time.
In short, the band members were tired after years of touring and recording, off-stage Alice was starting to become far removed from his on-stage persona and the creepy / shocking songs were binned in favour of ‘nicer’ stuff. None of this went down well with the record buying public who begun to turn their back on the band in their numbers. Just like that, the Alice Cooper band was finished.
Debates over the single reason why the band split have been going on for years and the passing of time has done nothing to fully clarify this. In fact, if anything, it has made the situation worse with blurred or romanticised accounts often being presented. The simple fact (in my opinion) is that there was more than one reason and that the split was an incremental process formed by fatigue, changing lifestyles, differences of opinion, different career aspirations and market forces.
Big Apple Dreamin’ (Hippo)
The album opener is, I have to confess, one of my favourite Alice Cooper tracks. A melodic track (dedicated to a New York night club), it features some excellent guitar work by Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce and, of course, Alice’s signature snarling lyrics. The song still has a fresh and contemporary sound to this day so has certainly survived the test of time. The best song on the album in my opinion.
Rating: 9 Skulls
Never Been Sold Before
Never Been Sold Before is another classic Alice Cooper rock and roll track combining tight instrumental arrangements and catchy lyrics. The lyrics, which appear to relate to a rebelling prostitute, are typically edgy.
Rating: 8 Skulls
Hard Hearted Alice
Something quite different here, a rather beautiful ballad come rocker (complete with organs) charting the ups and downs of the life of Alice. The first trio of songs on this album may just rank as the strongest on any of the groups releases and strongly challenge the commonly held view that Muscle of Love is a flop. Or does it…
Crazy Little Child
A little slice of Broadway awaits in a, quite frankly, extremely mediocre song that’s a million miles away from the brilliance of Billion Dollar Babies. It just sounds so out-of-place here and badly disjoints a generally strong album.
Rating: 4 Skulls
Working Up A Sweat
Things get back on track nicely with this up-beat rocker which, although still devoid of any hint of the band’s signature macabre antics (as with everything else on this album), still sounds more in tune with the hit albums that preceded Muscle of Love.
Rating: 7 Skulls
Muscle Of Love
Regarded as an Alice Cooper classic and still played regularly on stage to this day, Muscle Of Love is the most cohesive and best produced track on the album. Totally radio friendly and with many of the ingredients of another School’s Out only the concept didn’t have the same strong instant appeal to the masses. In many ways this sums up the album, people weren’t looking for Alice talking to them about love, they wanted something much darker!
Rating: 8 Skulls
Man With The Golden Gun
The one that got away! As the title suggests, Man With The Golden Gun was a proposed song for the James Bond film of the same name. It sounds like a James Bond song, it’s probably good enough to be a James Bond song but sadly it never became a James Bond song.
Allegedly, the reason for this is that the band didn’t get it completed in time; this is something that would never have been allowed to happen a year or so before. The other story is that it was simply rejected by the producers, either way the fact that a song by Lulu was eventually selected instead must have been like a dagger through the heart.
A good song sadly consigned to history with only it’s title nodding to what it should have been.
Rating: 7 Skulls
Teenage Lament ’74
The lead single from the album is an oddity as it was selected despite it being simply not the strongest thing on offer. It’s still of good quality but also acts as a beacon of just how mediocre the material had become with no cutting edge whatsoever. The backing female singers really don’t helps as it make the track sound even nicer than it already was.
Rating: 6 Skulls
An utterly anonymous track that is not at all worthy of being the last track turned out by the band. The production and lyrics all sound extremely half-hearted and it’s almost as if the band couldn’t wait to finish up and get out of the recording studio. A sad end to an era.
Rating: 4 Skulls
OVERALL ALBUM RATING: 6 SKULLS
See my Muscle Of Love collection here.