Super Hits

by: Alice Cooper

To some, it may be puzzling that Alice Cooper had almost no hits in the '80s, since much of that decade's mainstream hard rock was clearly in debt to the pioneering pop-metallurgist. Others may realize that Alice lost his mystique around the time he started dueting with Miss Piggy on The Muppet Show. It's hard to sell yourself as a dark warrior after something like that, but it has to be said that the Muppets were the least of Cooper's problems. Yes, there were rock & roll excesses, which led to a series of flawed records -- but you still can't discount the fact that his shock had turned to schtick by 1980, and he lost the teenagers that formed his core audience. He didn't get them back until 1989, when there was a whole new generation of teens for whom Alice Cooper was a legend, not a regular on The Tonight Show. Fortunately, there was also a new generation of rockers, many of whom were raised on his Greatest Hits, and they were eager to repay him by helping him create a comeback. That's exactly what happened with Trash -- a crackerjack mainstream rock record that recalled Cooper's glory days while sounding utterly contemporary. And so began a mini-Alice Cooper renaissance in the late '80s and early '90s -- the length of his three-album recording contract with Epic. He never had another hit as big as Trash or its Top Ten single "Poison," but its sequel Hey Stoopid was an enjoyable facsimile, and the ambitious concept album The Last Temptation had its moments. Together, they all had enough good songs to result in one good hits compilation -- which is something the 1995 collection Classiks wasn't, since half of the record was devoted to covers. The budget-line Super Hits comes closer to filling the bill. Although it leaves off such minor hits as "House of Fire" and "Only My Heart Talkin'," it does have "Poison" and "Hey Stoopid," along with a good cross-section of highlights from the three albums, including "Lost in America," "Why Trust You," "Love's a Loaded Gun" and "Might as Well Be on Mars." It's not definitive by a long shot, but it has more prime material than Classiks, which is odd, since budget-line comps are often inferior to their more expensive, exhaustive cousins. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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