Great Metal Albums of 1986: Alice Cooper- Constrictor

1986 marked the return of Alice Cooper. Just a year earlier, he was written off as a ‘has been’ by many people in the music industry. An article about him in “Hit Parader” (Motley Crue Magazine), read like an obituary. However, he did appear on Twisted Sister’s single “Be Cruel to Your Skool” from their album, “Come Out and Play.” Something was telling me back then that it was premature to write Alice off.

Thus in late 1986, his album “Constrictor” was released. Those, like me, who were around during his former days of glory in the 1970s snapped it up. Younger fans may have been reluctant, especially with all the stories of his ‘drunk period’ in the early 1980s. Then there was his well known kick ass live shows, which helped. The “Nightmare Returns” tour for the album is considered one of his best.

So, the question was: Did “Constrictor” live up to the hype of the return of Alice Cooper? My answer is yes. While he would come out with even better albums after, this one was the springboard for future glories. What I like about “Constrictor” was that he put aside the punk ventures on early 80s album and his so-called disco album, “From the Inside.” Note: I have never considered that album disco, it’s one of my favourite Alice Cooper albums. On this album, he goes for a more 80s metal sound which delighted me at the time and continues to do so.

What I also like about the album is that even with the more metal sound, Alice maintains his sense of humour with the lyrics. He proves that heavy metal can still be fun. “Thrill My Gorilla” is proof of that. “Teenage Frankenstein” does so as well and it has cooler guitar riffs at the beginning. My choice for best song on the album. Speaking of cool riffs and a great guitar solo, check out “Life and Death of the Party.”

Like with “Teenage Frankenstein,” Alice doesn’t abandon his passion for horror in his lyrics. There are songs containing blood spilling like “Simple Disobedience.” On the other hand, when I first heard “The Great American Success Story,” I thought it was going to be a rip at the 80s yuppie culture. Actually, it was supposed to be used in the film, “Back to School,” starring Rodney Dangerfield. Unfortunately, it wasn’t and that was a shame because “Back to School” is a pretty funny film. Sum 41 parody it in their video for “In Too Deep,” but that’s me going off track again.

Another smart move by Alice on this album is putting together a great band for the album. Kane Roberts shines on guitar everywhere on the album with both some power riffs and shredding guitar solos. Kip Winger on bass was also a good move on the album and unknown Dave Rosenberg plays the drums very well on here. Putting all of the above together, it does make “Constrictor” a good album.

Track Listing:

  1. Teenage Frankenstein
  2. Give It Up
  3. Thrill My Gorilla
  4. Life and Death of the Party
  5. Simple Disobedience
  6. The World Needs Guts
  7. Trick Bag
  8. Crawlin’
  9. The Great American Success Story
  10. He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)

Alice Cooper- lead vocals

Kane Roberts- guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, backing vocals

Kip Winger- bass, backing vocals

David Rosenberg- drums

Donnie Kisslebach- bass

Paul Delph- keyboards, backing vocals on “He’s Back”

Tom Kelly- backing vocals on “He’s Back”

Beau Hill- backing vocals

I’m surprised Steven Lukather didn’t play on the album.

I’m going make a bold declaration here. I think that “Constrictor” did for Alice Cooper what “Done With Mirrors” did for Aerosmith. The album didn’t propel Alice back to superstardom but it did put him back on the map and on the road to it. He was past is drunk days.

Next post: Vinnie Vincent Invasion

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14 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: Alice Cooper- Constrictor”

  1. This album was my discovery point of the Coop as in 86 I was buying a ton of music as a 19 year old and seeing the video The Man Behind The Mask made me get the album. Earlier this year I picked it up on vinyl which was a great trip back down memory lane for me.
    Great writeup Sir

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yeah, this is a good one. Teenage Frankenstein and He’s Back made for some solid bookends.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Brilliant write up. Constrictor was my second Coop LP right after Billion Dollar Babies. It showed me two sides of the man in real time and all before the Trash watershed moment of Poison in ‘89. I love this album and even though I haven’t played it all the way through in years I’m pretty sure I still know every word

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m not sure it lived up to the hype in my eyes. I like it but I prefer Prince of Darkness which has a mix of this and Raise Your Fist. Great write up though!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I had this on picture disc and sold it many years ago when I was hard up. Maybe time to get it again.

    Liked by 3 people

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