Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! My Adventures In The Alice Cooper Group by Dennis Dunaway (3 out of 5)


I saw this in an Ingram catalog. Since it is put out by St. Martin, Holly was able to get me a copy. I knew I had to read it. I grew up loving Alice Cooper, despite my mom’s hatred of him. (I remember seeing him on SNL with that snake around his neck, and my young bitch ass ran screaming into the next room. I do NOT like reptiles, even if I have dated a few). My mom didn’t like his music, his eyeliner, and she also didn’t like the snake. I loved “School’s Out” and “I’m 18” when I was a kid, but didn’t really get into Alice’s music until I was much older and my brother and I found vinyl records of Alice’s early music at Beautiful Day Records in downtown LaGrange. We snuck them in between whatever other stuff, so my mom wouldn’t know we had the records. Process this. Alice Cooper wasn’t as shady as some other artists we could have snuck into my house, but my mom was DEAD SET against him. Which just made it easier to buy those records and see why she was so upset. I still am not sure, to be honest. I loved all of the records, and my brother was (may still be) a big Alice Cooper fan. So, naturally, loving any and all music biographies, I needed to read this. It was not at all a letdown. I really enjoyed it. And now Nicole’s sister Katie will be enjoying it, because she loves Alice Cooper and anything associated with him.

If you aren’t familiar with Alice Cooper or his music, Shame! Educate yourself! Who is Dennis Dunaway? He was the bassist and co-songwriter in The Alice Cooper Band. Before Alice took on his famous name, he was Vince Furnier, and he and Dunaway were teenage friends in Phoenix, Arizona. They formed a hard rock band that played the hard places in the world- prisons, teenage hangouts, and cowboy bars, among others. The band- and the appearance of the band having helped largely popularize the phrase “shock rock”- progressed on its musical journey, taking them from Phoenix to Los Angeles to the hard streets of Detroit, and many points in between. The progression of their dramatic music theater grew exponentially, as their reputation began to explode, and the hits and record contracts made their marks and were signed. As their popularity hit its apex, things began to get cray cray. The usual trappings of fame- drink, drugs, women made their marks on respective members of the band, and as of 1975, Alice decided to go solo and continue on with studio musicians and disband the group as it was known for those ten plus years. You have your share of interesting stories and run-ins with other famous musicians and celebrities, but you also have an enjoyable book that tells about how the four members of the band pushed themselves hard and sweated their balls off to get their music out there. I learned a lot about the craft, and about how the music business can screw you over. One of the most important lessons here: Get everything in writing.

I enjoyed Dennis’ story a great deal. I wasn’t very familiar with many aspects of the band that backed Alice for some of his biggest hits. As I said, I remember those few songs and the SNL episode. Until I had the actual vinyl and listened to them, and developed a true liking for their music catalog. And then there was his ‘resurgence’ in the 90’s (Poison is still one of my all-time favorite Alice Cooper songs), which rekindled it. But I had not ever read anything in-depth on them. This gave me a real good introduction to the early music and the band, but Dunaway didn’t dive too deeply into the recording process for their albums, which I normally love reading about. He also doesn’t seem to have many sour grapes over the way that Cooper decided to fly solitaire and break up the band. There are parts of that dissolution that made me think Alice Cooper was a bit of a prick. But again, people are people, and this is Dunaway’s book, his story, his time in the band. Who am I to judge someone else’s memories and perceptions? Beyond a simple book review, I am not. I did learn a great deal about the band, Alice, and like I said, there’s a little bit of dirt here, but nothing so salacious that it can be put in the same category as Motley Crue’s The Dirt. It was thorough in every way but the recording of the albums wasn’t addressed as much, which I thought a bit odd. I also could set it down and pick it back up; but there was no true sense of urgency to finish it. It was a very nice, amenable book that you can take and leave at your leisure, but I would say if you’re looking for a nice quick read about someone that had a true cloak of mystery around him for many years, this is not a bad book to pick up and read. But if you’re looking for the nitty-gritty details of this and that, well, you’ll have to dig elsewhere.

~ by generationgbooks on June 7, 2015.

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