Hello Hurray/Generation Landslide 45
Vincent Furnier (a.k.a. Alice Cooper) was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 4, 1948. After some childhood illnesses, Furnier and his family moved to Pheonix, Arizona. There, Furnier attended Washington Elementary School and Cortez High School. At the age of 16, he was eager to participate in the local Letterman talent show, and thus formed a band with his fellow cross-country teammates: Glen Buxton (lead guitar), John Tatum (rhythm guitar), Dennis Dunaway (bass guitar), and John Speer (drums). Furnier would furnish lead vocals and play the harmonica. The band was initially dubbed the Earwigs and although they mimed their performance at the talent show, as a result of winning the show and loving the experience of being onstage, they acquired instruments at a local pawn shop and soon renamed themselves the Spiders. For about a year they played in the Phoenix area and even released two singles. The second of these, “Don’t Blow Your Mind”, became a local #1 radio hit. By now, the Spiders had graduated from Cortez High School; also Michael Bruce replaced John Tatum on rhythm guitar. By 1967, the band was making regular road trips to Los Angeles to play shows, and the band once again renamed themselves – they were now known as the Nazz. In addition Neal Smith replaced John Speer on drums. By the end of 1967, the band had relocated to Los Angeles permanently.
In 1968, they learned that Todd Rundgren also had a band called Nazz, and they subsequently changed their name to Alice Cooper, with Furnier changing his name to Alice Cooper. Soon they were approached by Shep Gordon, who became their manager. Gordon secured the band an audition with Frank Zappa, which led to a three album contract with Zappa’s Straight Records. Alice Cooper’s first LP, “Pretties for You” (1969) was ultimately a commercial and critical failure. The band appeared at the Toronto Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival concert in September 1969. While they were performing, a chicken somehow made its way onto the stage. Cooper, assuming that since the chicken had wings, it must be able to fly, picked up the chicken and threw it out over the crowd; instead of flying away, the chicken plummeted into the first few rows, where the audience proceeded to tear the chicken to pieces. A rumor started that Cooper bit the head off the chicken and drank its blood onstage, and the notoriety the band gained from this incident inspired them to capitalize on tabloid sensationalism, in the process creating a new subgenre, shock rock. In spite of the publicity garnered from the incident, the band’s second album, “Easy Action” (1970) was just as unsuccessful as the first. Still, two occurrences would be instrumental in reversing the fortunes of the band. The first was Warner Brothers’ acquisition of Straight Records, which meant that the band was set to receive a higher level of promotion from a bigger label. The second was the decision by the band to relocate to Detroit, Michigan, where their bizarre stage act was much better received. They teamed up with fledgling producer Bob Ezrin to record their next album, which would also be their last under the Straight Records contract. The next single, “I’m Eighteen”, released in November 1970 in advance of the album, reached #21 on the Billboard charts, and the LP, “Love it to Death” (1971), proved to be their breakthrough album, reaching #35 on the U.S. album charts.
The band followed up this initial success with “Killer” (1971), which spawned two hits, “Under My Wheels” and “Be My Lover”. By mid-1972, Alice Cooper’s stage show had become infamous, and they seemed poised for even greater success. In June 1972, they released the appropriately-titled “School’s Out”, which reached #2 on the Billboard album charts. The title track was released as a single and reached the Top Ten in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K. Soon they reached their commercial – and arguably, creative – peak, with the release of “Billion Dollar Babies” in February 1973, which reached #1 in both the U.S. and U.K. The album spawned four chart hits, the second of which was “Hello Hurray” b/w “Generation Landslide”. This is today’s featured single.
“Hello Hooray” is the first song on “Billion Dollar Babies” and is has an anthem-like quality to it. The song opens with a bombastic-sounding riff from Buxton, anchored by the rhythm section. After this intro, Cooper’s lead vocals chime in: “Hello! Hurray!/Let the show begin, I’ve been ready”. The song works on two levels: both as an individual track and as an intro to the album, to get us psyched up to listen to the record. And what better way to get his listener’s psyched up than to indicate that he knows what it is like to be a fan? “Ready as this audience that’s coming here to dream/Loving every second, every moment, every scream.” It may not be Proust, but as a prelude to about 40 minutes of Alice Cooper in their prime, it’s not bad. It represents a worthy addition to the classic Cooper catalog.
But turn over the record, and we get a pleasant surprise. “Generation Landslide” is not only superior to the average B-side, but one could easily make the case for “Landslide” being the stronger side. It is an often-overlooked gem about the problems faced by the billion dollar babies from the title track. It starts off with a melody being played on a acoustic guitar, before Cooper sings “la da da dada” and the electric guitars thunder forth. The song has a simple, driving melody and is pregnant with profound lyrical content and a number of early 1970’s pop culture references: “Sister’s out ’til five doing banker’s son’s hours/But she owns a Maserati that’s a gift from his father/Stopped at full speed at one hundred miles per hour/The Colgate invisible shield finally got ’em”. During the instrumental break in the second half of the song, we get a harmonica solo, which serves as a refreshing novelty. And the guitar interplay between Buxton and Bruce plays no small part in making this song one of the more memorable tracks from the album. The impact of the song was not lost on Cooper himself, who included an updated version of the song (“Generation Landslide ’81”) on his 1981 release “Special Forces”.
The single (catalog #: WB 7673) was issued on Warner Brothers Records in 1973 and peaked at #35 on the Billboard singles chart. There was no picture sleeve for this single in the U.S., although it was issued with a picture sleeve in some countries. This, of course, was the second to last album for the classic Alice Cooper lineup. “Muscle of Love”, released in November 1973, was not as successful as its predecessor, and the band members argued over the future of the band, with Furnier wanting to continue to do elaborate stage shows and concept albums, and the rest of the band wanting to scale back the stage shows in order to concentrate on their music, which in their eyes was what gave them credibility in the first place. This led to the breakup of the original Alice Cooper band in 1974, with Cooper continuing as a solo artist, and Dunaway, Bruce and Smith forming the band Billion Dollar Babies (they issued one album before disbanding). Buxton, on the other hand, kept a low profile, playing only occasional club gigs and living on a farm in Iowa until his death in 1997.