Sound — 8
Vincent Furnier, later known as Alice Cooper at this point, the original name of the band had a great set of vocals and some good blues harp skills. Although this album was released in August 1969, it was recorded in 1968, keeping that in mind, this album is insanely ahead of its time, not surprising that Frank Zappa saw the talent in them.
Heavy guitar riffs and soloing, all disarrayed intentionally, although never sounding bad at all, just really avant-garde and psychedelic. Even a bit proto metal at times on a couple of heavier tracks on the album like "Fields of Regret" or "Living." There are different cuts on here that are totally different from one another but overall have a real psychedelic feel to them. This is yet another underrated album, simply because it has no commercial value whatsoever except maybe the track "Reflected" which would later be turned into the hit Cooper song "Elected" which changed lyrics and a slightly different version. The guitars get heavy at times (keep in mind this is the late '60s) and the solos are sometimes quite nice, with great rhythms and bass. Some of the tracks get a bit strange with some sound effects but they are nonetheless entertaining and innovating and add a little flair to the whole thing and fun I'd say. "Titanic Overture" has a gothic and melancholy feel to it, this music wasn't for its time, the '60s wasn't ready for this, just like they weren't ready for Black Sabbath in this same year, this stuff is quite nice but a bit on the darker side for the time it is in. Not many people seem to see the good qualities in this, and dismiss it as psychedelic crap, but there are some brilliant rock compositions in here, my favorite is "Swing Low, Sweet Cheerio" and the live version at the Whisky is just lovely, with more psychedelic interlude jams.
Glen Buxton manages to pull out some nice hard rock riff bits in here and Neal Smith always delivers impeccable drumming, Alice Cooper's vocals are actually really nice and have some of that great feel he would later use, but more higher and well organized singing with the group members backing him, totally unexpected of this group, but they were under a different style that had impressions and influences from many artists of the same era and before but yet even if they were trying to capture The Beatles or whoever else, they sounded nothing like it, more of a fusion of so many things in a totally original fashion, this is cooper at his rawest. They are intentionally discordant at times, but always stay on key and manage to sound nice and clean. I love it and I can see it for what it really is, a unique and truly innovative album of its time and possibly quite influential.
Lyrics — 8
Sometimes the lyrics and song titles just do not make sense at all, but ultimately does that really matter? Most songs are just for fun to begin with, but there are still some interesting and intriguing lyrics and the way Cooper sings them conveys a dark or joking sardonic tone no matter what they are, he can always make it sound great. For the most part they all just somehow seem to fit into place as a whole. Even though he obviously isn't singing like he later would as the whole group underwent a total sound change and transition from the next album "Easy Action" and finally to what it would really start to sound like in the later years on "Love It to Death," he displays a nice range and uses that lovely blues harp, playing all the notes and progressions nicely in sync with the music. I think the "Sing Low Sweet Cheerio" lyrics really are my favorite, even though nothing is ever clear, most songs of that era and style have the same qualities, but the musicianship and way the vocals are sang and synchronized with the songs is what really counts and Alice Cooper does a great job as a whole band on this album.
Overall Impression — 9
Some other artists at the time that were closely tied with this band was Frank Zappa who promoted them and recorded the album for them, and also has not quite same styling but similar shock themes and humorous yet genius music that was really outstanding in the '60s. This was more of an earlier shock rock and art rock album as a whole, having some proto metal and psych leanings, but a lot of psychedelia is really a precursor to the metal genre as most of it was the heaviest music of it's time. This still is really more of an outsider album that can't really fit into any bill, but I could say it is somewhat close to The Stooges as far as having a more harder and new wave sound of the time ushering in later glam-rock/harder metal bands that would later be to come. This album has more of a similarity to Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention's debut album "Freak Out!" although it is different and this has a slightly more changed sound as it is four years approximately later, there is a similar quality in blending rock with a unique psychedelic avant-garde tinge.
03. "Sing Low Sweet Cheerio": Has a lovely acoustic guitar intro following the rest of the song in the same riff, with electric psychedelic guitar blips throughout and lovely lyrics, this is more of a dark psych cut, having a familiar sound of most of the groups of the time but again, they were totally in a league of their own in originality. Impressive track and great vocals, there is definitely a kind of emotion and has a sense of spiritual depth to lyrics in a lost soul trying to find their way. Deep and great psych track of its time without a doubt.
05. "Living": An interesting track, perfect example of how they had a slight Beatlesque sound that most artists always tried to have with vocals, yet were such a punk rock type of arrangement and this definitely is an example of how pop rock of the later early 70's would have some of these aspects. Awesome guitar soloing on this track!
06. "Fields of Regret": This is the true dark, and really hard rocking track with a serious depressive metal tone to it, I don't think many other artists sang in such a way with a real dark tone to the whole lyrical content and song, this is really once again highly innovative for 68'. Wailing harmonica that compliments the guitar soloing.
08. "Levity Ball": Oh, lordy this track, just the way Cooper sings, I don't even know how to describe it, the creativity is crazy with the intro having the music feel like it is travelling towards/away from you. Then it goes into this Doors kind of feel to it with the beat and everything with the Cooper vocals and lyrics but it has another quality to it that makes it their own sound, it just has these hints of other things in it.
10. "Reflected": The opening is once again, ultra hard rockin' for the time this was made, again released in 1969 but recorded in 1968, then "Easy Action" was recorded mostly in 1969, Frank Zappa said he would release it in a week or so, but it took months said Alice Cooper. But this is what would turn into the song "Elected" this being older still sounds so much raw and harder, it is a shame they had to change their stuff so that this could be a hit, because they were really unique and raw doing their own thing, but it was for the best because they got the exposure they needed and still got really heavier. This is a real rocker on the album, my second favorite track.
Overall, I do love this album, maybe some points are a bit different because they were awesome performers obviously with good talent and they were just underrated. The only problem that I would have with it as a listener is maybe some strange nuances but they are really just fun and entertaining, I easily got past any little overall flaws because the sheer raw musicianship on this album is just great. I really love the heavy doom metal drone (it didn't exist yet, Sabbath invented it but the intro is just out of its time!) on "Changing Arranging" is awesome, but I can't list all the tracks I love, when I love an album like this, I usually dig almost everything on it. I love how Alice Cooper can sing so great and emotionally about some deep things on a few songs although he gets intentionally comical and sardonic at times those add some nice humor and surprise to it.
I absolutely love this and I would pay whatever hefty price to get this on vinyl, it is a special album, just something insane, the misfits of their time, the music that is only later accepted in years to come.