I remember first hearing of Alice Cooper vaguely as a 5- or 6-year-old kid in the early ’70s, when my next-door friend’s older brother’s band would play something of his (yes, I know it was the band name first, but I’ll just be saying “his”) loudly from their house. It only registered slightly with me, probably because they didn’t play it all that well. And anything else I heard about Alice Cooper, back when you only got information like that through TV, radio, or magazines in those pre-Internet days, was infrequent and just seemed a little weird to me — similar to when at the age of 7 or so I first saw David Bowie on People magazine’s cover (I admit it may have been some other magazine, but I know it was in a supermarket checkout while shopping with my mom, at any rate) and didn’t really know what to make of him with all that makeup, crazy hair, and androgyny.
Over time I heard a few Alice Cooper hits on the radio and didn’t mind them, but I still wasn’t really drawn to the music. “School’s Out” was the most obvious of the songs when it became ubiquitous on the radio every June, and then later, in 1980, I really liked “Clones,” with its cool, new-wavey sound. But still, nothing really clicked with me, and as I began to amass what became a very large record collection during my college years, still no Alice.
And so I went on not appreciating Alice Cooper all that much. It wasn’t until the late ’80s, when I became a fan of the great Boston-based power-pop band The Cavedogs that things changed. In the numerous times that I went to see them play in Boston clubs, guitarist and sometime lead singer Todd Spahr would nearly always lead a fantastic cover of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” — it was sped up just a bit and given just a bit more power-poppiness, but it rocked every time. I realized what a great song it was, and by extension, I began to appreciate Alice Cooper that much more.
So a few years later (I took my time getting around to it, obviously), I finally purchased Billion-Dollar Babies, Alice Cooper’s 1973 album with “No More Mr. Nice Guy” on it. It’s a great album overall, demented in parts (see, for example, “I Love the Dead”) but certainly with a sense of humor, which has always been Alice Cooper’s saving grace. And “No More Mr. Nice Guy” is still the standout song, a sharp, tongue-in-cheek rocker about which the title says it all — and check out the little Beatles flourish at the very end of the song. I still wish I had a version of the Cavedogs performing it live, but the original is more than sufficient!