Album: School’s Out
Artist: Alice Cooper
Genre: Hard Rock / Glam Rock
“Well so long… so longAlma Mater
I hope that I would see you again… again
I finally grew up
They finally let me out of school”
Two great albums in a row?? And It’s not even my birthday! It’s like a gift from the heavens after sitting through so many albums that just do nothing for me, they decided to throw me a bone and give me the chance to actually enjoy myself. You know it’s shifted when I go from listening to an album once and go “That’s good enough for me” to happily re listening to an album over and over. I did the latter with this one because for some reason I couldn’t get enough of it.
The title song became emblematic of 70s slackers and high schoolers, appearing in tons of movies to signify the end of school and the beginning of a summer of love, peace, drugs and teenage shenanigans and debauchery. No surprise on how that happened. The album attacks you right away with that classic riff and Alice Cooper growling away about how school’s out and it’s time for teenage rebellion. Alice Cooper embodies your typical young teen of the 70s and uses that aesthetic throughout the entire album, incorporating teen gang violence, tensions between groups, rat pack vibes, slacker undertones and the need to rebel against the system. He captures all this incredibly well and what makes it shine through is his use of both Nostalgia and Theatrics to do so.
There’s something incredibly sad about a person who constantly reminisces about their days in high school. How great those days were and how they wish they could go back. We’ve all seen this plight before, the person who peaked in high school and life just never got better since they left. They’ve clearly never grown from that state and constantly try to recapture the magic of those times and failing miserably because they’re a grown adult now and you can’t recapture that forcefully. It may seem hidden underneath it all, but there is this part that seems to underline the entire album, most noticeably on the song Alma Mater where the singer says “I hope that I would see you again…”. It’s a song about a guy reminiscing about his old school mates and times and crying in his beer over it because he can’t go back to those days. It really recontextualises the entire album, which came across as the POV of a teen but with this final song gives the sense that it’s a man reliving those moments from his youth. It’s why it seems so glamorized, why it seems so fun and thrilling. He’s looking back with rose-tinted glasses. The sadness of Alma Mater makes it seem like he’s unhappy with his current adulthood because things just never were the same again since those days and he just wishes he could relive his days of street fights and teenage debauchery. We’ve all met someone like this and it just adds a lot of nice subtext to the whole album.
Just like any great Glam Rocker, Alice Cooper incorporated a ton of theatrics into his work. Just the fact he’d cake his face in make-up for live performances and put on a whole show filled with theatrics, he was Kiss before Kiss was a thing. And this album really shows his love for broadway and old-school show tunes as he repurposes tunes from West Side Story into it, incorporating When You’re a Jet into his song Gutter Cat Vs. The Jets. It makes sense and blends well with the thematic elements of his album as the show was about two street gangs filled with teens going head to head in New York. He even uses this style in songs like Street Fight, which feels like a whole stage choreography would go to it and Blue Turk, which feels like his version of a Rat Pack song. If that isn’t convincing enough, he ends the album with a song called Grand Finale, which acts as a conclusive underture to the whole album, reusing riffs and sounds from the previous songs to give one big curtain call to the whole thing. It’s the use of theatrics and broadway stylings that really sold me to the album and had me loving it as much as I did. Alice Cooper knows his music and it’s clear he knew what he was doing with it.
School’s Out is a beautiful blend of nostalgia on youth lost and broadway theatrics mixed together to make an album that just hits hard. It’s easy to dismiss it as another shallow glam rock album and as being silly due to the theatrics of the band, but Alice Cooper manages to create an album that not only rocks hard but also has some amazing depth to it.
And I love it for that.
Favourite Song: Blue Turk