Alice Cooper’s Hey Stoopid, released July 2, 1991 was the follow up to his highly successful 1989 album Trash. That previous album featured the hit “Poison”, Alice’s biggest hit single in years [Top 10 in the US, UK, and a few other countries], as well as a few other singles. “Poison” though would remain a regular in the live throughout his career since.
Trash also featured a load of guests, such as Bon Jovi, Ritchie Sambora, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Steve Lukather being the biggest names. Most of Trash was co-written with Desmond Child, who was the big name to have at the time as a writing partner. A few of his guests also had sporadic co-writing credits, as did [now] former guitarist Kane Roberts – who’d been a co-writer and the guitarist on Alice’s previous 2 albums. I really liked Trash when it came out, aside from “Poison”, there was “Spark In The Dark”, “Bed Of Nails” [another single], “I’m Your Gun”, and the title track was good. At the time though I couldn’t stand [still can’t] the other 2 singles “House of Fire” and “Only My Heart Talkin'” [featuring Tyler]. in retrospect this album doesn’t hold up for me compared to the follow up; it’s too much ’80s – Bon Jovi & Aerosmith – both hugely successful in that decade, but both left there [and really I couldn’t stand much Aerosmith after Rock In A Hard Place!].
There was a lot of promotion for Trash [Alice having signed to Epic}, there was lots of Alice on MuchMusic at the time, magazines, radio promos… but I don’t think the album had a serious follow up to “Poison”. I did see Alice at the Skydome in Toronto on New Year’s eve 1989, a great show, great set list, and a good number from Trash. He even brought back “Muscle Of Love”, which is interesting, as it seemed Trash was almost like a follow-up to 1973’s Muscle Of Love album [the last by the original band]. There would be a home concert video released from this tour – Alice Cooper Trashes The World.
With ’80s rock slowly fading to the background by the turn of the decade Alice Cooper pushed forward with 1991’s Hey Stoopid! An album that not only kept up the ’80s commercial hard-rock direction, but would feature even more guests and co-writers. I am imagine there was a big budget for this album [?], but for me it worked. I loved it when it came out, and it still sounds great – my favorite Alice solo album. It is less of the ’80s Bon Jovi / Aerosmith approach, a bit harder edged in places, a few memorable ballads, but all around just much better songs and production [produced by Peter Collins, who also produced Rush, Billy Squier, Bon Jovi, Queensryche…]. Great cover art by Mike McNeilly [whom I can’t find any other credits for album covers by him].
All of Alice’s comeback albums to this point would lead off with a single, and the standout track that would be indicate the theme or direction of the album [“Teenage Frankenstein”, “Freedom”, “Poison”], and each album would also feature [at least 1] a song from a movie [“He’s Back”, “Prince Of Darkness”], save for Trash – though it was preceded in 1988 by a single [and video] from the Iron Eagle 2 soundtrack – “I Got A Line On You” [not included on Trash though]. Alice and Desmond Child also wrote “Love Transfusion”, which was recorded by Iggy Pop for Wes Craven’s Shocker in 1989. I’ve read that song was intended to be used for Trash, but left as the Iggy Pop version for the movie soundtrack. [Shocker also featured Megadeth’s version of “No More Mr Nice Guy”] So Hey Stoopid’s lead off track and single was the title track, and it would feature “Feed My Frankenstein”, featured in Wayne’s World. I thought “Hey Stoopid” was a great song, and great video. The song would see Alice writing on the topic of teen issues, most notably suicide, and fittingly featured Ozzy Osbourne on back vocals [Ozzy had been horribly and falsely accused of promoting suicide in the ’80s, over his song “Suicide Solution”, which lead to a court case]. Many of the songs on the album featured co-writers Bob Pfeifer, Jack Ponti, and Vic Pepe. Pfeiffer released a solo album in 1987 [check out his single/video – “Maybe It’s Stupid”], Ponti had previously recorded an album with Surgin’, 1985’s When Midnight Comes [Ponti was a former bandmate of Jon Bon Jovi, and recorded “Shot Through The Heart” on this album], he also had recorded an album with Billy Branigan, and would later work with Doro and Baton Rouge, and produce many others. Vic Pepe also had credits on the Surgin’ and Branigan albums… But enough of all that… The album’s main band consisted of guitarist Stef Burns [Y & T] , Canadian keyboard player John Webster [ex Stonebolt, Red Rider], drummer Mickey Curry [The Scratch Band, Bryan Adams, Hall & Oates] , and bassist Hugh McDonald [David Bromberg Band, session player in 70s & 80s, later of Bon Jovi]. The title track would feature guest guitarist players Slash and Joe Satriani. Canadian David Campbell would also feature as arranger on this, and a number of other tracks on Hey Stoopid. This album had plenty of potential for further hits [if only it was done a couple years earlier], with the ballads “Burning Our Bed” – the ultimate Alice break-up song [a single in Europe; also featuring Satriani], and “Might As Well Be On Mars”. As much as I like the ballads, it is the rockers here that also deserved more attention, with “Snakebite”, “Hurricane Years” [featuring Vinnie Moore], and “Little By Little” [featuring Satriani] – lots of cool guitar intros, hooks, and solos. There is also the favorite [and single] “Love’s A Loaded Gun”, and the closing gem “Wind Up Toy”, in which Alice revisits his Nightmare character Steven.
The album features 12 tracks, and I must confess I could do without 2 of them – the somewhat forgettable “Dirty Dreams”, and the single “Feed My Frankenstein” – which was featured in the movie Wayne’s World [along with Alice]; and I get that it was a bit of a hit, and garnered a lot of exposure from that film, but I just never really ‘got it’ beyond a few listens; yet it remains in Alice’s live set ever since. Also notable for featuring solos from Satriani and Steve Vai. Oh well. I also liked the somewhat dark “Dangerous Tonight” and the more pop-ballad of “I’d Die For You” was decent [tho’ veering into Bon Jovi territory], the latter featuring Mick Mars [guitar and one of the co-writers]. There was also a couple of outtakes, used as B sides at the time – the pop-rock of “It Rained All Night” and a cover of Jimi Hendrix’ “Fire”, neither of which I think, would’ve suited the overall album.
Hey Stoopid was a far better album than Trash [IMO], but it didn’t have the huge hit single that Trash did with “Poison”, not for lack of great songs, but I think it being released in the summer of 1991 may have played a bit of a part in it, with grunge emerging, and radio and many young fans moving on, away from the ’80s rock scene. It did chart top 10 in a number of countries outside of North America. The tour for Hey Stoopid would see Alice go out in the summer in North America as part of the Operation Rock N Roll package – with Judas Priest, Motorhead, Dangerous Toys, and Metal Church, followed by a Hey Stoopid European Tour. The set list held over 3 songs from Trash and added 4 from Hey Stoopid [a 5th was added in Europe].
Following this album and tour, Alice would take a bit of step back, with all the changes happening in the music industry at the time, and wouldn’t return til 1994’s The Last Temptation concept album. This would take on a new direction musically and lyrically. It was stripped back, with less of the ’80s rock feel and less big name guests. I really liked The Last Temptation as well, with tracks like “Sideshow”, “Nothing’s Free”, the anthem / single “Lost In America”, “Stolen Prayer” [co-written with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, who also guested on backing vocals. RIP], and the ballad “It’s Me” [co-written w/ Tommy Shaw & Jack Blades]. Guitarist Stef Burns would be the only hold-over from the previous album.
There would be no tour for this album, though a few songs would be performed in later tours [and packaged tours], with only “Lost In America” occasionally being performed beyond the ’90s; a shame as this album is vastly underrated and despite the concept and accompanying comics [by Neil Gaiman] wasn’t a big commercial success. I am sure I am not the only fan alone in ranking this one high amongst Alice solo albums. It would be his only other studio album of the ’90s. I must say, collecting Alice in the late ’80s and ’90s was a lot of fun, as singles usually included live tracks, unreleased studio tracks [see Hey Stoopid], so I have plenty of 7″, 12″, and picture-disc singles.
Alice would follow The Last Temptation up with the live album A Fistful Of Alice, recorded at Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo in ’96 and released in ’97. It featured guest appearances from Slash, Hagar, and Rob Zombie, and include 13 live tracks – with the latest few studio albums only represented by 1 song each; it also include 1 studio track, a Beatle influenced pop number “Is Anyone Home?”. The decade ended with the 1999 release of the 4 CD career retrospect box set – The Life And Crimes of Alice Cooper. [which also included rarities].
The studio follow up to The Last Temptation would see Alice re-emerge in 2000 with a new direction and sound for the next pair of albums.