Classic Rock n Roll Web Site
Released - February 1971, first on Straight Records, then Warner Bros
Records. Produced by Bob Ezrin
"Toronto Bob" Ezrin - Keyboards on tracks 1, 3, 6, 7 & 8
All songs written by members of Alice Cooper (see below), except "Sun Arise" written by Rolf Harris.
Love It To Death has to go down as one of the most under rated albums in rock music. The third LP put out by the Alice Cooper group, this one was different than their first two and it turned out to be the best album that the band would put out. First released on Frank Zappa's Straight Records, that label was sold shortly after the LPs release and purchased by Warner Bros Records, which was a good thing for the band, since the album would be promoted more by their new label. But still there were problems with their new, bigger record company. Warner Bros banned the LP's original cover photo of the band (shown above) because Alice Cooper, the lead singer, had his thumb sticking out of his pants, making it look like his penis. The CD's cover today still is censored, with Cooper's entire right arm and thumb airbrushed out. In 2009, a limited edition, remastered, gold pressing of the CD was released featuring the uncensored cover.
This was the first ACG album that Bob Ezrin produced, and boy was he exactly the producer they needed! The fact was, this was the very first LP Ezrin would produce for anyone. But it was Ezrin, who with this album, would define the sound of the band.
The first 3 songs on Love It To Death are pure guitar songs; kicking it all off with a wonderful, clean sounding jam on "Caught in a Dream", the second best song on the album, this number rocks from start to finish. That is followed by what became their best known song, "I'm Eighteen", and what classic lyrics this one contains about a teenager's life. But then there is also that wonderful guitar riff by Glen Buxton which also takes this song all the way to the top. Next up we have "Long Way to Go", another strong rocker which has its own special punch to it and is also where the album got its name.
Then the album slows down just a bit with "Black Juju", written by bassist Dennis Dunaway and which was one of the earliest of Goth Rock songs. The first four plus minutes of this long tune is its best part, then right around the 5 minute mark is its low point, with no real music and very goth like spoken words. After about a minute the music picks up again, although never to where it was in the early part of the number. Still, this song was light years ahead of most music that was coming out at the time.
Back to hot guitar rock music with the next song, "Is It My Body", an excellent written tune about groupies which the entire band got writing credits for. Then a song written by drummer Neil Smith, "Hallowed Be My Name" follows, the lowest rated song on the LP, but still a very good one.
The last three songs on Love It To Death are connected, although they are three different songs for sure. "Second Coming" is short on lyrics and pretty even music wise. The ending of this song and the startup to "Ballad of Dwight Fry" are hard to distinguish, but after the first 12 seconds of "Ballad of Dwight Fry", the excellent acoustic guitars played by Buxton and Michael Bruce kick in, giving the song a late '60s Stones like sound to it. Written on piano by the band's main songwriter and second guitarist, Bruce, with some help from Alice, this one isn't about the horror film actor Dwight Frye, but a salute to him and some of the "crazy" fictional characters he played. A song about fighting insanity, and again, more in the Goth mold, at least lyric wise, but still excellent, and yet another ACG song ahead of its time. Cooper's vocals on this one are intense and helps to make the song stand out.
The LP closes out with a totally hard to believe cover number for this band, the Rolf Harris song, "Sun Arise", a sing-a-long tune that was only known Down Under when ACG took a stab at it. Harris was best known outside of Australia for his hit, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport", and his version of "Sun Arise" was sung more like that song. So what got Ezrin to think this one would work for a band like Alice Cooper? Not sure, and some Cooper fans didn't like this one, but I was not one of them. It sounds fine to my ears, with some of the band's best ever output - vocal wise. I love the way the ACG got this song to work to their advantage! This song should be played every morning by radio stations as the sun rises to help greet the new day, or at the least, once a year at the time of the Winter Solstice, for sure!
Overall, Love It To Death was light years ahead of other Rock LPs that were being released at the time. That would be true for the next few albums this band would put out, and just one more reason why they should had been placed in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame years ago. Love It To Death was ranked at number 460 on Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums of all time list, and as far as I see it, it deserved a much better placement than that on the list. Yes, a totally underrated album if there ever was one!
- Keno, 2010
To listen to some soundclips from LOVE IT TO DEATH or to purchase it, click on: Love It to Death