Easy Action is the second studio album by the American rock band Alice Cooper, released by Straight Records in March 1970. The title comes from a line from one of the band's favorite films, the musical West Side Story. As with Pretties for You, the band's debut from the previous year, Easy Action was neither a commercial nor critical success. Singles include "Shoe Salesman" and "Return of the Spiders".
|Studio album by|
|Released||March 27, 1970|
|Studio||Sunwest Studios, Hollywood|
|Alice Cooper chronology|
Drummer Neal Smith later said of the record producer David Briggs, "David hated our music and us. I recall the term that he used, referring to our music, was 'Psychedelic Shit'. I think Easy Action sounded too dry, more like a TV or radio commercial and he did not help with song arrangement or positive input in any way." None of Easy Action’s songs have ever been performed live by Cooper since the tour in support of their third album Love It to Death; in fact, only "Return of the Spiders" was performed on the tour for that album.
A small number of early U.S. copies were pressed on the blue Bizarre Records label. These copies carry the same catalog number WS-1845 and album cover as the regular Straight Records release.
Though perhaps seen as being an overlooked work in terms of later releases, Easy Action tracks "Mr. & Misdemeanor" and "Refrigerator Heaven" were both later included in the well-received compilation album The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper. "Refrigerator Heaven" was also included in the Warner Bros. compilation album Zapped, which showcased acts signed or produced by Frank Zappa. The closing track "Lay Down And Die, Goodbye", which was originally written and recorded as a demo by the band when it was called Nazz, begins with a sample of Tom Smothers saying "You are the only censor; if you don't like what I'm saying, you have a choice: you can turn me off". This is followed by an instrumental jam and finishes with the chorus from the demo. (The last part of the song is listed on the Science Fiction album as "I've Written Home to Mother", while the instrumental jam section is listed as "For Alice" or "An Instrumental".
Detroit-born vocalist Vincent Furnier co-formed the Earwigs in the mid-1960s in Phoenix, Arizona. The band released a few singles and went through a few name changes before settling on a lineup with guitarist Glen Buxton, guitarist and keyboardist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith. In 1968 the band adopted the name Alice Cooper—a name Furnier later adopted as his own—and presented a story that it came from a 17th-century witch whose name they learned from a session with a ouija board.
At some point Buxton painted circles under his eyes with cigarette ashes, and soon the rest followed with ghoulish black makeup and outlandish clothes. The band moved to Los Angeles and became known for its provocative, theatrical shock rock stage show. In an incident during a performance at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival in 1969, Cooper threw a live chicken into the audience, who tore it to shreds.
The band auditioned for Frank Zappa's Straight Records label, and Zappa signed them with a $6000 advance. The group's released its first album, the psychedelic Pretties for You, in 1969 on Straight. It sold poorly.
According to Alice Cooper's band manager, Shep Gordon, the band's record label wouldn't use the production tapes from producer David Briggs. Instead, the label opted to use the band's rehearsal tapes in the final cut of the album.
Cooper and Dunaway were fond of the musical film West Side Story, and quotes from the film appear in the song "Still No Air" ("got a rocket in your pocket", "when you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way); another quote gives the album its title.
Release and receptionEdit
|Christgau's Record Guide||C|
The album appeared in 1970 with a cover on which the band poses turned away from the camera, their uncovered backs exposed except where covered with their long hair. A radio commercial that accompanied the album's release touted the band as "unisex, raw, together, and violent—just like you, fellow American".
The staff of Rolling Stone did not like the album, stating that "there's nothing nearly that interesting" and that "the pretty stuff sounds like something Walt Disney had the good sense to leave in the can". Robert Christgau, in The Village Voice, rated it a C, explaining that it has very few of the "pseudo-decadent and -psychedelic charms" shown on Pretties for You, along with "tuneless singing, tuneless playing, tuneless tunes, and pseudo-musique concrete".
The music showed little of the hard rock the band became famous for; the songs on its first two albums are more reminiscent of the pop-rock and psychedelia of bands such as mid-1960s the Who and Jefferson Airplane. They failed to find an audience and sold poorly. The group moved to Detroit, and with the next album, Love It to Death, producer Bob Ezrin had them strip down their sound and simplify the songwriting; the album and its first single, "I'm Eighteen" were the first in a string of big successes.
AllMusic's Joe Viglione feels that the album "might be the perfect picture of an evolving Alice Cooper Group". And that it "gives evidence that Cooper has more of a voice than he got credit for". He concludes by saying: "That this band could run the gamut from [Frank] Zappa to [David] Bowie, and perhaps inspired both, makes Easy Action a good study and entertaining record."
- Side one
- "Mr. & Misdemeanor" – 3:05
- "Shoe Salesman" – 2:38
- "Still No Air" – 2:32
- "Below Your Means" – 6:41
- Side two
- "Return of the Spiders" – 4:33
- "Laughing at Me" – 2:12
- "Refrigerator Heaven" – 1:54
- "Beautiful Flyaway" – 3:02
- "Lay Down and Die, Goodbye" – 7:36
- Alice Cooper band
- Alice Cooper – vocals
- Glen Buxton – lead guitar
- Michael Bruce – rhythm guitar, piano, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Below Your Means" and "Beautiful Flyaway"
- Dennis Dunaway – bass guitar, backing vocals
- Neal Smith – drums, backing vocals
- David Briggs – piano on "Shoe Salesman"
- Eric Tessier. CAMION BLANC: ALICE COOPER Le parrain du Shock Rock. CAMION BLANC. p. 57. ISBN 978-2-35779-309-5.
- Peter Buckley, The Rough Guide to Rock, Rough Guides, 2003, p. 224 ISBN 1-84353-105-4
- Doyle Greene (17 February 2016). Rock, Counterculture and the Avant-Garde, 1966-1970: How the Beatles, Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground Defined an Era. McFarland. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-4766-2403-7.
- Peter Buckley (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 1777. ISBN 978-1-85828-457-6.
- Viglione, Joe. Easy Action - Alice Cooper at AllMusic. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- Alice Cooper Tour Archive
- Hoffmann 2004, p. 478.
- Konow 2009, p. 31.
- Lenig 2010, p. 117.
- Konow 2009, p. 33.
- Miles 2014, p. 150.
- Brackett & Hoard 2004, p. 12.
- MacDonald 2003, p. 224.
- Reynolds 2016, p. 112.
- Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: C". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 23, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
- Rolling Stone staff (April 16, 1970). "Easy Action by Alice Cooper". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Alice Cooper". The Village Voice. Robertchristgau.com. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- Reynolds 2016, p. 113.
- Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David, eds. (2004). "Alice Cooper". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8.
- MacDonald, Bruno (2003). Buckley, Peter (ed.). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. pp. 224–225. ISBN 978-1-85828-457-6.
- Hoffmann, Frank (2004). "Cooper, Alice (4 Feb 1948–)". In Hoffmann, Frank (ed.). Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-94950-1.
- Konow, David (2009). Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal. Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-307-56560-0.
- Miles, Barry (2014). Frank Zappa. Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-78239-678-9.
- Reynolds, Simon (2016). Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-First Century. Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-30173-7.