THE first time I heard this was on the Christmas Top of the Pops in about 1972. This was my greatest period of being a fan. I was only 14 at the time so it felt really rebellious. It has one of the greatest riffs in rock and roll - on a Les Paul, I think - which was the first thing I ever learnt to play. The band had a brilliant bass player too, who has this bass line which is like a little lead line, it doesn't go with the rhythm at all. It sounds like it's overdriven on the amp.
Music was much more magical then, less technical. How you made a recording depended on where you put the microphones, rather than on computers. Cooper has got this grating, high voice that sounds like he's killing himself to do it. The whole sound actually pre-dates Goth, you can hear it in the rising chord progressions. There's a real doomy feeling to it.
It's garage punk with a glam rock feel - dirty and horrible and grungy, but with that art school theatricality. Alice Cooper was one of the first artists to put on a really theatrical stage show - the snake round the neck, killing animals and having himself 'guillotined' at the end of the show - which goes with the music. School's Out was his third album, and along with his fourth, Billion Dollar Babies, it's a classic. The whole thing's about high school, it's like a mini rock opera, with overtures, instrumental tracks and internal references. It's one of the few things I still have only on vinyl. It's up on a special shelf, so I have to make an effort to play it, but I still do.
'School's Out' is on Alice Cooper's album of the same name (WEA CD 9272602).
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