Saturday, September 28, 2013

Alice Cooper - DaDa

After his 1982 release Zipper Catches Skin (click here for that review), rocker Alice Cooper returned to record his fifteenth studio album. The result was DaDa which was released thirty years ago today (September 28th, 1983). While it failed to make the US Billboard Album chart, it did peak on the UK charts at number 93.

Cooper himself admits that he has no recollection of recording this one, due to the level of alcohol abuse he had reached at the time. Guitarist Dick Wagner added that the record was done to fulfill contractual agreements with Warner Brothers, that the studio hated the end results and thus made no effort to promote it as a result.

Side one opens with the eerie heartbeat of the title track “DaDa”. It sets a tone of loneliness, fear, analysis and retreat into the self. Cooper plays the patient at a psychiatrist, and he argues over the facts of his life which clearly, in his mind, are different from reality.

“Enough’s Enough” picks up the mood slightly, at least from a musical standpoint. The lyrics counter the bouncy beat by proclaiming that he has reached a breaking point in his relationship with his father. This one would have made a good single, I think, but the F-bombs would have prevented it from any airplay.

“Former Lee Warmer” tells the tragic tale of a troubled child who is kept locked away in his room, hidden because of his family’s shame.

In “No Man’s Land”, a mall Santa finds himself hit upon by a twenty-three year old woman who is desperate for some loving.

“Dyslexia” has a catchy new-wave hook to it that instantly reminds me of Devo.

Side two starts with the story “Scarlet and Sheba”, two seductive sisters. I like how it features an exotic, middle-eastern musical motif at the start.

The sole single was “I Love America”, but it was only released in the UK. Cooper delivers the lyrics, a commentary on the wave of patriotism running through the United States during the early 80’s, with a sarcastic tongue firmly planted in the cheek.

Thanks to a funky bass line Prakash John and a synthesized horn section, the serial killer ode of “Fresh Blood” has a decided R&B flavor.

“Pass the Gun Around” closes the album with a man, tired of the way his life is going down the toilet, is on the verge of suicide.

While I had to hunt around a bit to hear DaDa (thank you, YouTube) in order to do my review, I am glad I did. I actually enjoyed what Alice Cooper and his band of musicians did on this one. The songs are solid and varied. Sure, they tend to float on a darker thematic river, but that’s kind of what I have come to expect from Cooper given past records.

1 comment:

Kris Shaw said...

This album is pure genius. It is completely uncharacteristic of his previous work, and that is part of the charm. I first discovered this album in 1990 at a record store which dealt with collector's records, i.e. things that were first printings, imports, and out of print albums like DaDa. A factory sealed cassette copy set me back $15 at the time. I had never even heard of this album and eagerly plunked down my cash.

I HATED this album on the first listen. I couldn't believe how non-Rock it was. It was only with repeated listens that I discovered how clever it truly is. A lost classic if ever there were one.

This album has never been issued on CD in the US, and has been out of print since on LP and cassette since the '80s. I have a German import CD of it, so if you are so inclined you can hunt one down.