Random Album Review: Alice Cooper- Dada (1983)
From the start of his career, Alice Cooper and his original band of the same name weren't into drugs. However, Cooper struggled with alcoholism during his time with the original band and for the early parts of his solo career. Sometime in 1977-78, Cooper was checked into a sanitarium to kick his addiction. An album based on his stay there, From The Inside, was released in 1978. Soon after the album's release, Cooper went back to drinking again. As the story goes, Alice's wife Sheryl offered him a sip of her wine and that was it. From 1980 to 1983, Alice would go on to make four studio albums. According to his 2007 autobiography, Alice claims that he cannot remember making those albums due to his alcohol addiction.
The last of those four albums, 1983's DaDa, sticks out the most. His previous efforts (Flush the Fashion, Special Forces and Zipper Catches Skin) were more along the lines of punk rock and new wave music. DaDa dabbles more in the new wave sound, but relies more on experimental rock. Like many of Alice's albums, DaDa is an concept album albeit very loose. This was also the first time since 1977 that Alice was working with producer Bob Ezrin, who had produced four of the seven albums made by the Alice Cooper band. In the end, DaDa is a strange but unique lost gem.
As stated before, DaDa is a concept album. The concept, however, isn't exactly known. In fact, Alice doesn't even know what the album is about himself. With this, the concept is very ambiguous. If anything, the album seems to tell the story of a mentally disturbed man and his multiple personalities.
The album opens with the eerie and dark title track, a tune written by Ezrin which features throbbing noises along with electronic sounds. It's a pretty creepy track, as it is also an instrumental. This is followed by "Enough's Enough," a song that is sung by a frustrated son who has had enough of his cruel father. The singer remembers his deaseaced mother and wonders about his father's brother. The song is well written and Alice sounds good. It's hard to put my finger on what genre this song would fall under. It's a rock song, but it isn't rocking. It's a pop song, but it isn't very commercial. Whatever the case might be, it's one of the album's best songs.
As is the case with each Alice Cooper song, there is always a scary song or two. In the 1980s, Take "Former Lee Warmer," a song about a man who keeps his brother locked upstairs. We are told that he's a loner as mops and brooms "keep him company." One could believe the singer that he keeps him upstairs but Alice says at the end that he "wouldn't want to be Former Lee." Could he mean that his brother is dead and was formerly warmer? Either way, it's a pretty unsettling eerie slow paced song. The funky "Fresh Blood" celebrates vampires while the new wave sounds of "Scarlet and Sheba" has a pleasantly sickening chorus: "I just want your body Sheba/I don't want your brain/Scarlet gets what's left of my remains."
While Alice can make some scary tunes, he's also a funny guy. This is something that some people seem to forget about his music: it can be hilarious at times and sometimes downright bizarre. "No Man's Land" is a song that should be in everyone's Christmas playlists, as it tells the story of a man's one night stand with a woman who he meets while playing Santa Claus. There's also the quirky "Dyslexia" and the proudly patriotic "I Love America." The latter is my personal favorite from the album as it is just flat out hilarious. Alice, channeling a Southern accent, declares "I love that mountain with those four big heads!" as well as his love for General Patton, hot dogs and The A-Team. The sing-a-long "Pass The Gun Around" is another highlight as the lyrics are strong and it brings the album full circle (which I dare not spoil).
Like all of Alice's previous albums in the 1980s, DaDa was a commercial flop. It wasn't a good time in Alice's personal life either, as he was going through problems in his marriage with his wife Sheryl. Sometime after DaDa was released, Sheryl had filed for divorce. Alice, however, stopped the divorce from going through as he convinced Sheryl to give him another chance. For the next three years, Alice Cooper would not record any new material or tour. During this period of time, he tried kicking his alcoholism for good which he was able to do. In 1986, Alice emerged back onto the music scene starting with 1986's Constrictor (which, in my opinion, is his worst album). Alice truly came back in 1989 with his third album since his comeback- Trash. The album sold in the millions thanks to the hit single "Poison." Since then, Alice Cooper has been on top. As of 2015, Alice still tours and makes music. Along with being a born-again Christian, Alice is also an avid golfer and has been hosting a syndicated radio show (Nights With Alice Cooper) since 2004.
As for DaDa, it can be looked at by Alice fans as an underrated and overlooked gem.