“Experiencing Alice Cooper: A Listener’s Companion” by Ian Chapman (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) is a track by track description of every album by the Hall of Fame Godfather of Shock Rock.
The compilation is one in a series of “Experiencing” titles, where the writer walks the reader through each album , song by song, and puts their opinions on the songs. Even though the opinions in this book is kept to a minimum, Chapman details the songs, its run time, and a small bit of information about the tracks.
The writing, as told in the beginning, is not a biography of Alice Cooper, or the band members; the author leaves that to the respected autobiographies by the band members, but it is a nice go to book for those that want a quick reference of the albums or songs. Each album covered has the year released, the track listings, and the U.S. and U.K. chart position of the album. There is also a nice timeline at the beginning of the book detailing the history of Alice Cooper.
The albums covers Cooper’s whole career, from the band’s first album, “Pretties For You” in 1969, all the way to 2017’s “Paranormal.” The chapters are set into two or three years of the albums, for instance Chapter 2 covers the years 1971-1973, and Chapter 6 details 1986-1989 (Chapter 3 is the only one covering one whole album, which is 1975’s “Welcome to My Nightmare.”)
Even though the writing is not a historical biography, Chapman’s take on some of the songs and albums are interesting, especially since he is from New Zealand, which shows the worldwide appeal of Alice Cooper. It is interesting to read a person from another country’s take on Cooper’s work, where an album may have sold better in that country as opposed to North America.
Chapman adds in the book the two times he saw Alice Cooper in concert; during the “Nightmare” tour in 1977, and when Cooper opened for Motley Crue in 2015, including the set list for both concerts. He writes that the 2015 show was filled with all of Cooper’s hits (including compliments for the great Nita Strauss playing guitar for Cooper) , while Motley had some filler songs in it. Seeing Cooper twice in concert myself, in 1996 (opening for The Scorpions, which Cooper blew the headliners off the stage) and in 2003 on his “Bare Bones” tour, I can attest to how awesome a show Cooper and his crew puts on.
Another nice aspect to the book is how Chapman gives props to some of my favorite Alice Cooper albums, 2000’s “Brutal Planet,” (which he calls Cooper’s heaviest album ever), 2003’s “The Eyes of Alice Cooper” (which he states the “songwriting is tight and concise,” along with the music is “refreshingly raw and direct”), and 2005’s “Dirty Diamond’s” album, which Chapman says that “for anyone looking to discover a relatively unknown gem by the artist, one need look no further than ‘Dirty Diamonds'” (Chapman, 158). These are some of my favorite later Cooper albums, and mostly underrated that many fans here in the U.S. seemed to forgot about.
“Experiencing Alice Cooper” is a book that will not educate the reader on the history or insight of Alice Cooper. This book focuses just on the music. However, throughout the writing, the reader can see that Chapman is a true fan of Alice Cooper, and for those that want to add to their Cooper collection a handy reference for track listings on the albums, this is a book to add. It is an easy read, and has a nice glossy hardback cover to it, which will not easily wear and tear. The die hard Cooper fans may not seek this book out for inside information that they may not have already known, but Chapman’s collection is a nice piece of writing.
The review copy of this title was given courtesy of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
“Experiencing Alice Cooper: A Listener’s Companion” by Ian Chapman (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-4422-5770-2 eISBN: 978-1-4422-5771-9) can be found at http://www.rowman.com, or calling 800-462-6420.
For information on Ian Chapman, go to : http://www.ianchapman.co.nz/