I have spent part of my time in the van lately listening to Alice Cooper. Many people already know that the early Alice Cooper albums, the band ones up through his first few solo albums, are fantastic pieces of work. But for those of you that don’t, do you know that John Lennon was a friend and fan, Bob Dylan spoke highly of Alice Cooper’s songwriting, and Frank Sinatra covered one of his songs? The Alice Cooper band, which is all the Alice Cooper albums up through Muscle of Love, was a really great rock n roll band. If you are a fan of bass, drums, two guitars, you have to hear these records. (The albums got technically more complex as they went along. However, that core lineup, aside from when they would hire an extra guitar player in the studio at times, is often at the core of these recordings. They sound like a band playing with just a couple extra overdubs for the most part.) My favorite of these records is probably Billion Dollar Babies, though Killer and Love it to Death are front to back great as well. These albums are just the sounds of one of the best rock bands ever firing on all cylinders. As a bass player, I find the work of their bass player, Dennis Dunaway, particularly inventive. He often played nontraditional melodic lines that still hold down the bottom, while doing very little of what a bass player typically does. There are many great hard rock songs here that feature big pop choruses. There are many excellent singles and album tracks. Somehow lyrically Alice Cooper was able to provide a lot of entertaining horror fun, reflect how adolescents felt, and satirize American culture all at the same time. The above song, No More Mr. Nice Guy, is one of my favorite tracks of theirs, one that I have liked since I was a teenager myself. The music and the melody are just fantastic. Listen to all of the cool little guitar bits going on. The lyrics are humorous, without being cute, which is a harder trick to do than one would think.