Pretties For You (1969)

Pretties For You Album Cover (created by Edward Beardsley)

Background

 

Pretties For You is the 1st Alice Cooper album released way back in 1969.  The band had already been together for about 5 years (previously masquerading as The Earwigs, The Spiders and The Nazz) but now, under the management of Shep Gordon and record producer Frank Zappa they finally had the means to record and release their own material.

 

It’s hard to conceive that the band playing on Pretties For You (Alice, Neal Smith, Dennis

Dunaway, Glen Buxton and Mike Bruce) is the same that became a global sensation a few years later.  What we have here is a raw, loud and unrefined Alice Cooper which is yet to benefit from Frank Zappa’s influence.  It’s easy to see how the band was capable of dispersing audiences in 10 minutes as the music is essentially a jumbled mess of psychedelic randomness, a real assault on your mind and body!

 

In keeping with the oddity of the music, the album front cover is believed to have derived from some Edward Beardsley artwork (of a girl showing her panties at a funeral) that was hanging on Frank Zappa’s house!  See here for more information.

 

Titanic Overture

 

A bizarre orchestral introduction which sounds a bit like a creepy fairground ride (on reflection, it would have sounded great on The Last Temptation!).  It’s only about a minute long and a piano solo fades out at the end indicating that this piece may have been more substantial at one time?

 

Rating: N/A (Unclassified)

 

10 Minutes Before The Worm

 

Random bird noises are replaced with mind blowing psychedelia which in turn lead to a fairly listenable track with touches of The Beatles.  Again very short at just a minute and a half.

 

Rating: N/A (Unclassified)

 

Sing Low, Sweet Cheerio

 

The first proper song on the album finds Alice in good voice accompanied by some nice guitar solos by Glen and Mike.  It’s all rather uncoordinated though with pedestrian lyrics.  The highlight is probably a very capable performance by Alice on the harmonica.

 

Rating: 6 Skulls

 

Today Mueller

 

Another bizarre / short track featuring a piano backing and somewhat crazy lyrics and guitar work.  You have to laugh at the lyrics:

 

“Red Rover, Red Rover pass under, pass over, pass through

And over and over the white cliffs of Dover with you”.

 

Rating: N/A (Unclassified)

 

Living

 

Things pick up with this higher tempo, more radio friendly, track which is quite melodic.  Probably the best track on the album even if the lyrics are again somewhat questionable.

 

Rating: 7 Skulls

 

Fields of Regret

 

Another very raw track but with some of the best lyrics on the album giving a small indication on what was to follow in later years.

 

Rating: 7 Skulls

 

No Longer Umpire

 

The quality of the last two tracks is disrupted with another very odd / short track.  You have to admire Neil’s drum work though (surely Animal from the Muppets was based on him!).

 

Rating: N/A (Unclassified)

 

Levity Ball (Live at the Cheetah)

 

The rarity that is a live track in the middle of a studio album.  I’ve never liked this song as it’s just too raw for me and very uneasy on the ear.  Maybe the people who walked out on the band in those days weren’t so crazy!

 

Rating: 4 Skulls

 

B.B. On Mars

 

After the noise of Levity Ball this short song seems veritably weak by comparison.  However, it also falls off the rails halfway through with crashing drum work and a grating guitar solo.  A very odd track!   

 

Rating: N/A (Unclassified)

 

Reflected

 

This is the most important and intriguing song on the album due to (a) it being the group’s first ever single (albeit, a flop) and (b) its subsequent reworking into the classic Elected on Billion Dollar Babies.  The name aside, the influence on Elected can easily be seen in the melody and some of the lyrics.  Unknown to many, however, is that Reflected is itself a re-working of another song by the soon-to-be-called Alice Cooper band, The Nazz.  It's name?  Elected!       

 

Rating: 8 Skulls

 

Apple Bush

 

A nice calm opening  followed by the inevitable decent into chaotic musical arrangements.  This really is a very odd track which I struggle to understand the meaning of, that was the point though right?   

 

Rating: 5 Skulls

 

Earwigs To Eternity

 

This is a great song, which pays tribute to their name change from The Earwigs to Alice Cooper (almost seems like a coronation moment).  It’s another crazy sounding song, but I get it!

 

Rating: 8 Skulls

 

Changing Arranging

 

The album ends with more bedlam, more noise and more madness.  When you get to the end, I guarantee you, your surroundings will never seem so tranquil.  

 

Rating: 5 Skulls

 

OVERALL ALBUM RATING: 5 SKULLS

 

See my Pretties For You collection here