Alice Cooper '80, Flush The Fashion

I suppose a new wave take on Alice Cooper wasn't the worst idea in the world — but then maybe it was since it wasn't ever repeated, even though producer Roy Thomas Baker basically used the same template for the Cars. To balance out the sudden shift in style and his soporific snarl on the back cover neither Baker nor Cooper stray far from his usual topics (drugs and social contempt) nor his usual instrumentation, and wisely just let the synths be ornaments. I like lead-in cover "Talk Talk" and the zippy single "Clones (We're All)" takes only the musical liberties it can get away with; the old verve is back in the almost anthemic "Pain," and I laughed out loud at the sly self-referential wordplay in "Aspirin Damage" ("I've got a Bayer/on my back"). Plus, "Nuclear Infected" could practically be "No More Mr. Nice Guy" for a Three Mile Island generation. Unfortunately the novelty starts leaking out of the music around that point, and while none of the remaining tracks (except the out-of-place "Leather Boots" in the first half) are incompetent they're also not very compelling. That's actually the real problem with this album: at 28 minutes and change he can't afford any clinkers, and since this was one of the few albums he does remember recording, he's simply got no excuse. (Content: drug references, mild adult themes.)