ALBUM REVIEW: "RAISE YOUR FIST AND YELL," ALICE COOPER

I felt like a giddy 12 year old after re-buying Alice Cooper’s long forgotten, totally overlooked 1987 album Raise Your Fist and Yell, arguably his very first real heavy metal album, which I had owned and enjoyed for a while before selling it off to a used CD store many years ago for no explicable reason. 

Yeah, I know that Alice is seen as one of the earliest metal artists, but in all fairness, hardly any of his music prior to Raise Your Fist and Yell, either with the original Alice Cooper group or as a solo artist, was really heavy metal. Much of it was hard rock maybe bordering on metal, but Raise Your Fist and Yell is basically where Alice went full-on metal. 

Which is even stranger considering it’s the second release by the band he had assembled with Rambo lookalike Kane Roberts on guitar (don’t laugh), Kip Winger on bass, and some other guys on keyboards and drums. The first of these, Constrictor, was Alice’s attempt to reclaim his position as the Godfather of shock rock. After spending the first half of the 80s binging out on coke, releasing neat but weird new wave-y albums that he has no recollection of making, and starring in the low grade Spanish horror movie Monster Dog, Alice eventually returned to his old school, leather-wearing rocker persona on the Twisted Sister song “Be Chrool to Your Scuel” and its accompanying gory and gruesome zombie flesh eating music video.

Sadly Constrictor consists of limp-wristed pop metal in the style of Bon Jovi and Def Leppard with an almost non-stop onslaught of stupid sex and teen rebellion lyrics, ending with the hilarious for all the wrong reasons “He’s Back (the Man Behind the Mask)”, which also doubled as the theme for Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives. Thankfully, on the other hand, Raise Your Fist and Yell is Ozzy style, hard edged mainstream metal, complete with catchy ass, hard edged, chunka-chunka riffs and plenty of screeching yet melodic guitar solos. How this is the same band which made Constrictor, I have no idea, but they pulled the highly unusual sophomore upgrade. 

And, while it’s easy to giggle at a 39 year old man pretending to be a rebellious teenager in songs like Freedom, Lock Me Up, and Give the Radio Back, and it seems similarly strange for a married family man to sing such female baiting and dirty sex songs like Step on You and Not That Kind of Love, the second half of Raise Your Fist and Yell is really dark and macabre! Alice has updated his approach to horror for the low-grade VHS generation, making the album dated in the best way possible.

Prince of Darkness was obviously written to tie in with the John Carpenter film of the same name, in which Alice played a homeless derelict who bludgeons someone with the sharpened piece of a metal bicycle frame, even if the song really has nothing to do with the movie. Time to Kill is a total grindhouse movie revenge fantasy. And the closing trilogy Chop, Chop, Chop, Gail, and Roses on White Lace are pure slasher movie sleaze with lyrics like “she’s just a celluloid stripper/just another bloody player in my splatter-filled dream” and “so dead upon your bed/still searching for your head.”

And now I gotta run to 7-11, get some snacks, and watch Slumber Party Massacre II.

Edwin Oslan
Revenge of Riff Raff
22nd September, 2020 


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