Billion Dollar Babies was Alice Cooper’s peak, as a band, massively huge at the time, and still (arguably) the most important in the AC catalogue (band or solo!). Released in March of 1973, it would be a #1 album in the US, the UK, and Finland, as well as #2 in Canada, and top 10 in a few others. The band’s previous album, School’s Out had given the #1 hit and most famous AC track ever – “School’s Out”, and the album was a big seller, but there were no further singles. The band reworked the song “Reflected”, from their 1968 debut Pretties For You in time for the 1972 presidential election, even making a promotional film out of it, though that featured more of the chimp than bandmembers (aside from Alice). “Elected” would be the first of 4 hit singles from Billion Dollar Babies, released September 13 of 1972., months ahead of the album. Credited to the entire band, “Elected” gave Alice Cooper their 2nd Top 10 hit in the UK, as well as being Top 10 in a number of European countries, And reaching #26 in the US the week of the election! The song would remain in Alice’s live set, post-original band, often being used as an encore. The song also picks up radio play every election year.
Record World, Sept 23, ’72 – Amidst a continually broadening sphere of activities, Alice Cooper has not neglected this election year, and has just released a new single, “Elected.” The music and lyrics of the song were written by all five members of the group. “Elect-ed” took ten days to record, with basic tracks recorded at the Cooper Estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. To add authenticity to the sound of “Elected,” Alice makes use of Will Jordan’s impersonation of Walter Winchell, as well as recorded portions of the Democratic Convention in Miami. Also, the record ends with Alice giving a campaign speech. In keeping with the laws pertaining to full disclosure of campaign funds and expenses, Alice wishes to note that the recording costs of “Elected” were $10,000, inclusive. Warner Brothers has initiated a national campaign for “Warner Bros. Elected Alice Cooper Days” September 18th and 19th, which will consist of promo men dressed as Uncle Sam along with two models in red, white, and blue outfits to present the record to program directors at each station. (Robert Feiden)
Alice S -elected
With Alice Cooper’s latest record “Elected,” racing through the country, Louis Araiza, a student at the University of Houston took the lyric seriously. It seems he found a loophole in the bylaws governing the Student Union at the university and had Alice Cooper elected homecoming “queen.” It was never specified in the bylaws as to what sex a homecoming queen has to be Araiza explained. Alice Cooper, the male, lead -singer of the rock group bearing the same name may be cancelling a portion of his upcoming European tour to fly to Houston on November 11 to accept a loving cup during the half-time, coronation festivities in Dome Stadium, the 49,000 capacity home of the University of Houston Cougars.
So, tracks for Billion Dollar Babies were recorded over a 5 month period. A second single was released prior to the album – “Hello Hooray” , in January of ’73. The song was picked for use as the album’s and the live show’s opener. “Hello Hooray” was written by Canadian Rolf Kempf (thus qualifying AC’s single as CanCon), and originally recorded by folk singer Judy Collins for her 1968 album Who Knows Where The Time Goes (featuring Stephen Stills on guitar throughout the album). The AC single would reach top 10 in the UK and the Netherlands, top 20 in other countries, and #35 in the US. Further versions of the song included American folk singer Meg Christian (1974), UK industrial/alternative act PIG (1992), and Rolf Kempf, himself, released a version of his song on his 1993 CD Woodstock Album. “Hello Hooray” was also used for years as the opener to Toronto’s Q107 Radio’s Psychedelic Sunday program.
“That song was presented to us. I still have the reel to reel tape with the original song on it; I guess Judy Collins did a version of it just before we did, so. We didn’t normally do someone else’s material because we were such avid writers, ourselves, but for the beginning of the album, Billion Dollar Babies, and for the beginning of the Billion Dollar Babies show it seemed to be perfect!” – Neal Smith (2014)
Side one of Billion Dollar Babies could be seen more as the ‘singles’ side, while Side 2 would be more of the ghoulish side. Aside from the first 2 singles, the first side also featured the album’s 4th single, the title track. The song, “Billion Dollar Babies” was based around that classic drum intro from Neal Smith, while the song is co-credited to Alice, himself, Michael Bruce, and Rockin’ Reggie Vincent (Vinson). It is another that has remained in Alice’s live show ever since. As a single, was released in July, charting in Germany (#30) and the US (#57).
“Rockin Reggie was a friend of our’s, used to hang out with the band; he was from Detroit originally. We would party with him a lot, and when we moved to Connecticut he would come and hang out with us. He was a good friend of Glen’s, and he was a guitar player and a singer, with kind of a Nashville influence. And he had a song, and it eventually evolved in to the song Billion Dollar Babies. So that is why he (Reginald Vincent) has a writing credit on Billion Dollar Babies. So, we worked on it at our mansion house, in Greenwich, and I had always loved the Rolling Stones intro from Charlie Watts to the song ‘[Hey You] Get Off Of My Cloud’. I thought that was very cool, and as a drummer I always used to like to write songs for drummers, because people listen to songs and think ‘that’s cool’, but if I was a drummer listening to an Alice Cooper song – what would be cool about it? And I always tried to have something special in there that would get someone’s interest. ” – NS (2014)
“Raped And Freezin”, a tale co-written by Alice and Michael Bruce was the second track on side one, and is straight up memorable rocker, with a title/subject matter that may not fly today. An interesting twist though. This is one of my favorites here.
Side one closes out with “Unfinished Sweet”, credited to Bruce, Cooper, and Neal Smith. It tells the horror of going to the dentist for some painful gum work, complete with sounds of a drill and Alice moaning in pain.
Of the many outside players and guests on the album were guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, who’d appeared on previous AC recordings, as well as fellow Phoenix player Mick Mashbir. Mashbir would eventually go on to play live on the band’s next couple of tours. Bob Dolin would play keyboards (as well as live), and numerous other guests appeared, notably Donovan Leitch swapping vocals on the title track. That Donovan vocal was recorded during sessions at Morgan Studios in London, England, which rumored to have included numerous others via a jam session. The press did report that a Marc Bolan guitar solo made it on to “Hello Hooray”, but most involved only confirm that the Donovan vocal was the Only guest appearance used from those sessions. Billion Dollar Babies also would be the last ‘band’ album produced by Bob Ezrin.
Mick Mashbir on recording on Billion Dollar Babies – “It was actually Mike Bruce that made that happen. GB was basically on strike. He didn’t want to be in the same room as Michael or Bob Ezrin and they were rehearsing for the next record, B$B. ….
I played on every track except “Elected” “Sick Things” and “Generation Landslide”. My favourite song was “No Mister Nice Guy”. I was happy with all my parts, GB was around as little as possible. We were recording in the band’s mansion and he didn’t bother to come downstairs.”
The album’s third single – “No More Mr Nice Guy” opens side 2. Credited to Cooper & Bruce. In his book No More Mr Nice Guy, Michael Bruce recalls that the song had been started back around the time of making the Killer album, and that most of the song had been written by him. But lyrically it’s been fixed up to suit Alice. The track was chosen to be rush-released as a single in time for the beginning of the band’s massive tour. It would , a top 10 hit in the UK, #1 in Holland, a top 20 in a few European countries, as well as hitting #25 in the US. The song would be covered by a number of acts, notably Megadeth and Pat Boone, as well as used in a few tv shows, such as Family Guy and The Simpsons, and in the movie Dazed & Confused. I love the production on this track, the backing harmony vocals are a classic touch. From The Best Of Alice Cooper CD notes, Alice stated – “I wrote the lyrics out of anger because of how my parents were treated by some of the press. It was particularly hard because of my dad being a minister. Fact is, my parents were the only ones who knew I was a nice guy.”
“All Alice Cooper singles should be up tempo and should break fast, if they are going to break at all. Therefore, we advised their management to rush out ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy'” from the album, which they are doing. – Kal Rudman, Record World.
“Sick Things” and “I Love The Dead” were the darker side of the album, with producer Bob Ezrin getting a co-writing credit on both, Both songs being slower, darker, and spookier, would be a major feature in Alice’s live show, with “I Love The Dead” being used at the show’s climax with Alice’s execution. Both tracks feature great guitar solos, and I think “I Love The Dead” is a superb ending to the album, though I am less enthused about “Sick Things”. The album’s finale was written about necrophilia, and though credited to Cooper & Ezrin, Dick Wagner would also co-write on this, without credit – “The first song we wrote together was ‘I Love The Dead’ for the Billion Dollar Babies album, but I got no credit on that either because I was told they were going to have only Alice’s name on the album and that was it, so I sold out my share of that song to them. That’s what you do when you need money, right?” -Dick Wagner (Brave Words, 2006)
“Sick Things was just such a great song for us to lead in to I Love The Dead, where of course we’d cut Alice’s head off with the guillotine. And I still have the same guillotine to this day. Sick Things was just talking about necrophilia, tearing people apart and having sex with dead people.” – NS (2014)
The latter 2 tracks were connected via the piano ballad “Mary-Ann”. I think the inclusion of “Mary-Ann” wasn’t a favorable one by the entire band, with most preferring something heavier, as well as something that would be a ‘band’ song, as “Mary-Ann” was simply Alice with piano accompaniment (from someone outside the band). It would be the lone song from the album not to be featured on the ensuring tour.
“Four of us did not want “Mary Ann” on our album. We had some killer rock songs and the best one of them should have been where ‘Mary Ann’ was. Betraying our long proven rule was a major problem, and damaging.” – Dennis Dunaway (2012 Interview)
The last song recorded for Billion Dollar Babies was “Generation Landslide”. Needing one more song for the album, the band flew to the Canary Island’s and stayed at an unfinished hotel where they worked on this song as The band. It would be credited to the entire band, and featured Glen Buxton, who’s participation elsewhere on Billion Dollar Babies was said to be minimal. Alice would re-record the song for his 1981 album Special Forces, and American metal band Lizzy Borden would record an excellent version of this song on their Deal With The Devil album in 2000.
“The Alice Cooper group wrote “Generation Landslide” together from scratch. It proved that Alice Cooper was still at our best when we were left alone.” – DD
Billion Dollar Babies came in a green snake-skin wallet looking cover, a gatefold, with an inner sleeve with lyrics and band photo, as well as tear away cards of the bandmembers, which many felt the urge to tear off as the credits were on the inner gatefold behind them! Designed by Pacific Eye & Ear ( Ernie Cefalu). The package also contained a large folded ‘Billion dollar bill’ featuring the band in the middle. It was the inner sleeve photo (other side of lyrics) which would cause controversy for the band, as would be illegal to include photos of US currency –
FEDS NIX ALICE SPREAD: The Treasury Department and -the Secret Service have told Alice Cooper that it is illegal to use pictures of currency, thereby holding up plans to use a picture of Alice amid $1 million in cash on the new album `Billion Dollar Babies.” Shep Gordon, meanwhile, winged into Washington (D.C.) with a phalanx of lawyers to appeal, vowing the picture would be used. Alice’s canceled Palace Theater show, by the way, will be going on the road shortly. It’s titled after the new album. – By JOHN GIBSON
The band would go on to the biggest rock tour at the time (see below). The tour would eventually give fans the movie Good To See You Again Alice Cooper, which made a brief theatre appearance, as well as the Billion Dollar Babies Live recording, from Houston, which was included on the 2001 2CD deluxe version, as well as the 2019 Record Store Day vinyl issue.
“The biggest tour in the history of rock and roll with “The Alice Cooper Show” playing to an audience of over 820,000 people in 56 cities.” – Cash Box
Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies.” This brand new release has exploded in cites such as Chicago, Philadelphia, etc. because it is a fantastic album. They opened their record -breaking national tour last Thursday and Friday at the Spectrum in Philadelphia before 20,000 people each night. We introduced them from the stage, and I am now known as the Sixth Alice Cooper. This tour will gross 4.6 million dollars, and the second biggest tour in the history of show business, the last Rolling Stones tour, grossed 3.2 million dollars. Because of the unprecedented public demand, more shows and more cities are being added according to Ashley, and their manager, Shep Gordon (astute industry observers tell us that Shep Gordon now has to be rated as the best manager in the business, and he is spoken of in the same breath as the legendary Col. Tom Parker of Elvis Presley fame). As of now, they are booked into 60 sold -out shows in 56 cities and they will play before 820,000 people.… Obviously, a tour of this magnitude deserves media attention of unprecedented magnitude and a train load of 60 press people came to Philadelphia from New York City to cover the events. Warner Brothers’ Ray Milanese and Joe Fiorentino rented a Delaware River showboat for an incredible party after the show . . – Kal Rudman, Record World
-New Alice Cooper album, “Billion Dollar Babies” is going to make believers of all who think the group is all gimmick and little talent. It’s their finest album to date, and it’s very solid, too. This is the one we’ve all been waiting for . . . – CashBox, March 17, 1973
BILLION DOLLAR BABIES – Alice Cooper – Warner Bros. BS 2685
Every time an Alice Cooper LP comes out, we claim in these pages that it’s the best they’ve done yet. And so must we still declare. Lyrically, the set is as strong as ever … “You tell me where to bite, you whet my appetite” being only one choice line. Musically, the package is clearly superior-both in melodic impact (yes, we said melodic) and arrangements. In addition to their current “Hello Hurray” and their recent “Elected,” the album contains a strong single in “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Worth every penny of it, baby!