A visit to the magical, blood-spattered world of the Alice Cooper Group, courtesy of Dunaway, the band’s bassist, co-songwriter and “theatrical conceptionalist.”
Hard-rock fans of a certain generation think of Alice Cooper as the original shock rocker, a platinum-selling performance artist who took to the stage looking as if he stepped out of A Clockwork Orange, ranting and raving about billion-dollar babies and how school was out forever. Today, in comparison to the Marilyn Mansons of the world, Cooper's schtick seems almost quaint, but during his heydey, he was a frightening, formidable force in the rock world. A close friend from childhood on, Dunaway was with Cooper every step of the way, and he documents that story in this agreeable memoir. But does Cooper’s place in the rock world merit a memoir from his bassist, and is the bassist a good enough memoirist to overcome his own lack of notoriety? The answer to both questions is a qualified yes. Dunaway makes a solid case for Cooper’s place in the rock pantheon, continually pointing out not just the fact that he was an above-average singer, songwriter, and frontman, but also the role he played in incorporating theater into rock performance. To Dunaway’s credit, the book is more than just an homage to his old friend; it’s a love letter to an era. But it’s not all roses. Readers looking for the kind of lasciviousness they expect from an Alice Cooper confidant won’t be disappointed, as the author does plenty of sordid, albeit not-too-slimy dishing about the band’s backstage shenanigans. Dunaway has a terrific memory, which is both a positive and negative: though the book can get bogged down in minutiae, the author leaves no stone unturned.
An affectionate, sharp-eyed memoir that, while it doesn't add anything groundbreaking to the rock-lit canon, will appeal to Alice Cooper die-hards and fans of his brand of music.