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Alice Cooper and My Rock Monsters

Yesterday I caught Alice Cooper’s Rock Monsters on MTV. Being a bit of a rock chick and an Alice fan to boot, I settled down to enjoy a bit of head banging.
I was sorely disappointed. Now, it’s true I only tuned it at around #38 (a young, young, young Iron Maiden with Number of the Beast), so maybe all the acts I’m about to name check were included in the dozen or so I missed. But no White Stripes / Dead Weather (or anything else Jack White’s ever laid his hands on)? No System of a Down? No Marilyn Manson? No PJ Harvey? Not even any Rolling Stones or The Who? How is that even possible?

Instead, Alice gave us the classic series of American rock standards – Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer, Van Halen’s Jump, Europe’s The Final Countdown, Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger, Boston’s More Than A Feeling, Jimi with Wild Thing, Guns & Roses’ Paradise City, ZZ Top and Gimme All Your Lovin’, then there were Motley Crue, Kiss, Aerosmith, Metallica… There were also several non-Americans, of course: Free’s All Right Now, AC/DC’s Back In Black and Highway to Hell, Queen’s We Will Rock You and Bohemian Rhapsody, the aforementioned Maiden (also in at #2 with Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter), Motorhead with Ace of Spades (what else), Rainbow and Since You’ve Been Gone, Black Sabbath with Paranoid, Led Zeppelin with Whole Lotta Love. You could have written the list in your sleep.

In any case, leaving aside the complete lack of any evidence that Alice has actually listened to anything post-1990 (OK, so Enter Sandman was 1991, but let’s not quibble over details), I had no objections to Meat Loaf taking the #3 spot with Bat Out Of Hell, Maiden at #2 (although I’d have plumped for Phantom Of The Opera or Run To The Hills) or the wonderful Alice himself at #1 (but why Poison, of all the dull soundalikes, and not a true Coop classic like Desperado or I’m Eighteen or Elected or No More Mr Nice Guy???).
And it’s also true, of course, that a lot of the songs he included are indeed rock classics by anyone’s standards, including mine. But from such a Rock God, I really expected some more eclectic and interesting choices in there.

So without further ado, here in no particular order are a few of my Rock Monsters. Not 50 of them – I’m not Alice, I’m not getting paid for this (and no one except me cares anyway). About 10. Maybe a dozen. I refuse to be constrained by numbers.

The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldier

I love everything about this song. From the guitars to the swirly synth to Jack’s screechy voice, it’s 3 minutes of perfection.

The Dead Weather – 60 Feet Tall

Even darker and more intense than the Stripes, and what can I say about Alison Mosshart? It was a happy day for the world when she started making music with Jack.

You, oh Google Crawler who are my only reader, may have gathered by now that I adore Jack White. His intensity reaches a part of me that few other musicians do, or at least never as consistently. I first heard him (and of him) relatively late, when Elephant came out, and it was love at first listen. Difficult to choose just one White Stripes song from such a wonderful oeuvre. The Union Forever and There’s No Home For You Here were close contenders, while among their gentler tracks, I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother’s Heart, Apple Blossom and We Are Going To Be Friends are all firm favourites. But the winner is Black Math – even though that should be maths, damn it!)

Arctic Monkeys – Brianstorm

I took a while to understand the hype surrounding the Monkeys. I was decidedly unenthused by their first album, although I could understand the acclaim for the lyrics. I became a believer, however, on hearing Brianstorm. That furious heavy dance beat and the thudding drums just blew me away.

Kasabian – Vlad The Impaler

Kasabian are another of those bands that talk directly to my soul. People seem to love to hate them, which I really don’t understand. Each to their own, I suppose.

Grinderman – No Pussy Blues

I was also relatively late in hearing any Nick Cave: his was one of those names that cropped up from time to time, and I knew I ought to do something about listening to him, but (I don’t know how) I had the impression that he was going to be oh so terribly worthy, somehow. Ha! How wrong can you be? I am not a blind devotee: I think half his work is genius and the rest is, well, a bit too sentimental, really. But only half a genius? That’s still better than almost anyone else has ever managed.

Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People

I really hope the Coop did include a Manson song among those I missed, as the absence of his undisputable heir would be an outrage. I’m not a big fan, TBH: I like my rock and metal heavy but more intricate and with a bit more to grab onto. But he deserves a place for his style alone.

Alice Cooper – Desperado

Alice at his best. I’ve loved this song for years: it was only on searching for it on YouTube that I found out it was written in remembrance of Jim Morrison.

Seasick Steve – You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

I’ll forgive Alice for not including this one: Rock Monsters was probably filmed before it had even been recorded, or at least released. So you could say it hasn’t earned its way as a classic yet. Seasick Steve himself certainly has paid his dues though – decades of obscurity spent plugging away doing his stuff and “overnight” international fame at the age of 70. Good on him.

System Of A Down – Chop Suey!

Hard to believe it’s 10 years since Toxicity came out. How time flies…

PJ Harvey – C’mon Billy

And finally:
The Sugars – Black Friday

Yes, I know you’ve never heard of them (well, obviously you have, GC – you’ve heard of everything! That’s you, my mythical reader). I hope you’ll agree though that this song really is a stonker. I’ve no vested interest in plugging them, by the way: I chanced across them on Manchester TV while channel hopping one evening.

And that, GC (you don’t mind if I call you GC, do you? It sounds more intimate – and a whole lot friendlier – than Crawler), is your lot for this evening.

update
A late edit, given Giuseppe’s complaint of the modernity of my list!
The Monks – Monk chant

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