Some of the UK’s finest underground bands come together to pay homage to one of the great records of 1971 – a year that gave so much to music. Pale Wizard present Alice Cooper’s Killer.
During 2021, we have written several articles looking back on the year of 1971; a year that proved a particularly fervent year musically. Solo Beatles, Lindisfarne, Uriah Heep, Cat Stevens, Black Sabbath, T-Rex, The Who and many more all released albums.
To add to the celebrations, a collection of the finest UK underground hard rock and metal bands have come together through Pale Wizard Records to pay homage to Alice Cooper’s Killer.
Killer was the second of two albums from Alice Cooper in 1971; its predecessor being the Love It To Death album. Love It To Death contained the superb I’m Eighteen and The Ballad Of Dwight Fry. Killer contains some of Cooper’s best known works in Under My Wheels, Dead Babies and Halo Of Flies amongst others.
Each track is lovingly rearranged and reinterpreted by each band. If you are familiar with the original album then you will appreciate the homage given to the originals whilst each cut having a unique spin applied by each band.
Green Lung, The Grand Mal, Sergeant Thunderhoof, Ritual King, 1968, Trippy Wicked & The Cosmic Children of the Knight, Mos Generator and Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell all tackle the Killer tracks. There are also bonus tracks contained with Alunah offering up a take on I’m Eighteen, Suns Of Thunder taking on Billion Dollar Babies, Possessor re-doing Muscle Of Love and Sound Of Origin providing Sick Things.
Green Lung kick things off with the rock and roll of Under My Wheels. A faithful reinterpretation with an exception made for doo-wop backing vocals from the band. The Grand Mal add an extra ounce of pounding drums to Be My Lover and Sergeant Thunderhoof absolutely nail Halo Of Flies. Their rendition is powerful, theatrical and epic – just like the original but beefed up considerably; there is a real groove in the song. Ritual King bring the fire on Desperado with some stupendous lead guitar work and 1968 add their hard blues tinge to You Drive Me Nervous.
The biggest departure from the original sound is from Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah is reanimated into a down tuned sludgefest. It uses doomier tropes in its slower trudge. Another epic, along with Halo Of Flies, is Dead Babies. Mos Generator handle proceedings superbly. Killer performed by Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell round out the original album tracks with a suitably trippy version of Killer.
Of the bonus tracks, Alunah’s take on I’m Eighteen is reminiscent of the original; as is Suns Of Thunder’s Billion Dollar Babies. Possessor are a perfect band to cover Alice Cooper. Their horror aesthetic fits like a glove on Muscle Of Love. It’s fast, furious and punky. Like Trippy Wicked, Sound Of Origin rip up the rulebook for their sinister run through Sick Things.
We welcome each band who recorded a Killer track to offer us their thoughts.
Track By Track
Under My Wheels performed by Green Lung
“As a band we get labelled with a lot of different genres – occult rock, stoner rock, doom. But really, it’s pretty uncomplicated: we’re horror movie obsessives playing rock & roll, and that tradition all began with two bands we’ve paid homage to with recent cover versions, Black Sabbath and now the Alice Cooper Band. We hope you dig our cover of ‘Under My Wheels’ – it’s probably the first and last time you’ll hear a doo-wop backing vocal on a Green Lung track.”Green Lung – April 2021
Be My Lover performed by The Grand Mal
“We are all big fans of Alice Cooper and were delighted to get involved. My favourite track from the album is ‘Be My Lover’ so I was really happy that we were able to cover this one. It’s always a bit of a challenge learning other people’s songs as you have to get used to their style of playing, but this is all part of what makes playing music so fun. I hope whoever listens to this version of the song feels we did it justice. We are personally very happy with how it turned out.”Elliot Cole (Drums) – April 2021
Halo of Flies performed by Sergeant Thunderhoof
“Given how invested I was in the project and my deep affection for the music, I thought it best not to choose a song from the Killer album and instead wait until all the other bands had made their choice. I was both delighted and nervous to be left with ‘Halo of Flies’. It’s my favourite Alice Cooper track period, but it’s also arguably the most difficult and involved songs in their catalogue. I was very happy with how the band approached this one and we developed a new level of respect for the original Alice Cooper group after we tried to dissect the song. We didn’t want to drastically change anything as it’s such a progressive track. This one was a real challenge for sure. We were very lucky that Tony was able to supply the iconic synth parts too as it really gives the whole thing a legit feel. We hope you like what we did.”Daniel Flitcroft (Vocals) – April 2021
Desperado performed by Ritual King
“It was a great experience that gave us focus during the pandemic where we’ve been able to do so little as a band, brought us together, which is what the scene as we know it is all about. Loved recording and thank you to Pale Wizard for giving us this project to focus on and involving us. Alice Cooper stood for individuality so we tried to perceive that in the best way we could with our interpretation of Desperado. We hope everyone enjoys it as much as we did recording it.”Ritual King – April 2021
You Drive Me Nervous performed by 1968
“The challenge was to capture a feeling about the time that this was recorded and add some extended parts to see where it could be taken musically. We all loved the swing of the track we chose, it felt like it suited us more so than some of the others on the record. We’d like to collectively thank Simon and James for tolerating our bullshit and to all at Pale Wizard for making this happen. Massive thanks to Alice Cooper and his legendary band but the main thanks go to you and everyone else, for supporting this Killer project. Burn on and Stay loud. We’re not worthy.”1968 – April 2021
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah performed by Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight
“Recording in the current era was a bit of a challenge which is why there’s a slight line-up change from normal. Pete and Fyfe were able to record in the studio but myself and Dicky couldn’t. I can record at home though so Fyfe stepped up on drums and I took bass for this one. As for the song, Pete arranged our version and this is very much a classic Pete Holland/Trippy Wicked treatment. It’s a far cry from the original but hopefully some people will enjoy it.”Chris West (Bass) – April 2021
Dead Babies performed by Mos Generator
“I was very excited to be offered Dead Babies. Killer is an amazing album with a few truly epic tracks, including this one. The real challenge I had working out the arrangement was deciphering all of the instrument layering in the original song. There are some neat horn arrangements in it and I wanted to get them right. I did edit out some bars in the middle breakdown section but other than that the song is the same arrangement and a whole step down in tuning. The Alice Cooper Group were a very unique outfit. You can really hear how unconventional they were on albums like “Pretties for You” and “Easy Action”. When Bob Ezrin started producing their records, he was able to harness that unique quality and make it understandable to the early seventies teenage rocker. That coupled with the group image was pure genius all the way around. I’m a big fan of all of those ACG records and many of the Alice Cooper solo records so it’s great to be included in this tribute.”Tony Reed (Guitar, Vocals, Drums) – April 2021
Killer performed by Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell
“We’re truly honoured to have been invited along to this party, the Alice Cooper band, especially those early Straight albums are integral to the Shovell sound. Their use of mind-twisting, ever-changing themes and time signatures, their sonically hypnotic guitars, tripped out and unpredictable, like nothing before nor since. Recording this track has been a post-lockdown panacea for all our souls!Louis Wiggett (Bass, Keyboards) – April 2021
The whole project is an absolute treasure. Each band is in imperious, impassioned and killer form as they pay respect to one of the greatest performers ever.
You can view a preview of the album below and you can order the album here.
Pale Wizard Records: Bandcamp