According to Alice Cooper’s official website, Lace and Whiskey was influenced by his love for 1940’s and 1950’s movies and music. It’s quite a departure from the dark and creepy ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’ persona often attached to guillotine-loving, snake-handling, makeup-wearing Cooper. Released in 1977, most music reviewers have not been very kind to this album, ranking it among the worst of the Alice Cooper collection. But we disagree with their disdain for it.
Musicians need to express fresh ideas once in a while. As great as Billion Dollar Babies was, making that album 25 different times would never suffice for Cooper who had an affinity for musical and artistic exploration. Doing the same thing over and over again is a more sure way to lose your audience than pushing the creative envelope. It’s quite simple: artists either evolve, or they grow stale and boring. And who could ever accuse Alice Cooper of being stale?! And certainly never boring!
His albums were known to be thematic. Cooper’s character is leaving high school. Cooper’s character is having a nightmare. Cooper’s character goes to hell. And in this case Cooper’s character is a detective named Maurice Escargot, an Inspector Clouseau fumbling type of person. And while it isn’t the frightful character we expect, it does provide for an interesting motif for a hard rock album.
The Lace and Whiskey artwork is black and white with a slight sepia tone. The front of the album jacket is busy with a revolver, an unspent bullet, a shot of whiskey alongside its bottle, a cigarette on an ashtray and an open paperback book cover: common things a private investigator might have. The book cover interestingly shows many of the same items, along with some lipstick, cross jewelry and some ‘lace’. The book title, ‘Lace and Whiskey’ obviously serves as the title of the album. The curious subtitle, ‘The Outstanding Mystery Discovery of the Decade’, leaves the Alice Cooper fan to discern what sort of mystery this is about. The answers lie in the grooves of this record.
It’s Hot Tonight
The first track on the album has a raw and gritty sound with an edge that draws the listener a little closer. It’s opening riffs invoke the inquisitive to push open the back door of the theater, leading us into a mysterious dark-alley echo chamber of grimy vocals and blistering guitars.
Cooper literally makes you feel the summer heat as nighttime blankets the city streets. There aren’t any dogs barking or cats screaming on this recording, but we share Maurice Escargot’s fever, because we hear them.
Lace and Whiskey
The title track has Escargot searching for a cure for his pain and insanity. Will he find the magic medicine he needs in drinks and women? He knows the answer, and admits it’s not at the bottom of a shot glass or under any bed sheets:
I’ll end up a broken old hobo
With red and yellow eyes
Swear’ and drunk and dyin’
But no ones surprised
You and Me
In an interview with Greg Laurie in 2019, Alice explains that there was a period of time in the late-70’s that he was ‘out of it; completely gone’. He said there were songs and even whole albums that he didn’t even remember writing or recording. Whether this song is one of them is unknown. But what we do know is that Cooper, the pioneer of ‘shock rock’, had great success with his ballads (Only Women Bleed, I Never Cry, How You Gonna See Me Now).
Some hard rocking fans don’t care for ballads all that much, but Cooper always pulls it off masterfully. The songs that he performed in concert were always done with 100% effort because they meant something to people personally. This song had so much meaning to young couples that they even had it played at their weddings.
You and me ain’t no movie star. What we are is what we are.
It is unknown if Cooper wrote this song for his wife, Sheryl Goddard, whom he married on March 20, 1976, but it seems appropriate since they are still together despite their ups and downs. This rock ballad made it all the way to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1977. Interestingly, Alice Cooper performed this song on the Muppet Show in 1978.
King of the Silver Screen
Escargot is having some visions of what could have been: a regular guy that could have made the big time. He could have been solving crimes as a star on the screen. He could have done the two-step with Fred Astaire. He could have been fighting old King Kong. He could have been Errol Flynn or even Greta Garbo.
The irony here is that Cooper himself was always larger than life. His outrageous theatrics were always an integral part of the entertainment. There were never blank screens at an Alice Cooper event. It was always a spectacle. The fans always came for a show, and they never left disappointed.
Eternity is set in the heart of man. Most people are looking toward the celestial city but unfortunately there are few that find it. To the one who searches thoroughly, the true God is found, as the investigator Maurice Escargot discovered.
The Cathedral-esque introduction, church choir refrain, and guitar crescendo exit are musical elements that tower high above the other tracks on the album. It is a lofty anthem dedicated to the power of God in the people that look to Him.
When life becomes more real than children’s games
Or we’ve become too old to play them
We’ll grow old gracefully
We’ll hide our shame. But there’s that voice behind the wall
And like my conscience, it is still and small
Each word is mercy, protects us all:
Maurice Escargot experienced God in 1977 with this epic song, but it took Alice Cooper a few more years. He grew up as a pastor’s son, and yet Cooper claims to have become a Christian in the mid-80’s after alcoholism almost destroyed his health and nearly wrecked his marriage. Some religious leaders dispute this claim, but only God and Alice Cooper know for sure. Looking down our spiritual noses to make a judgment call on Alice’s relationship with God would be a mistake.
And don’t be too judgmental on this record either, as some self-righteous music critics have been. Listen carefully. Discover and appreciate. Let yourself experience some musical enjoyment as Alice Cooper expresses himself in a way that might be different from the way you want him to be.
If every Rock and Roll album has a story, then Machine Head by Deep Purple is an epic novel.
Recording the Album
The Montreux Casino in Switzerland, where the band had planned to record this album, was destroyed by a fire on December 4, 1971 when a Frank Zappa fan shot a flare gun into the ceiling in the area where Zappa and his band were performing. The members of Deep Purple watched the facility burn to the ground, having arrived in Montreux in the days prior with plans to use the casino and the Rolling Stones mobile studio to record Machine Head. Though there were a few injuries, miraculously no one was killed. Claude Nobs, who had organized the concert, directed many frantic people to the exits safely. Zappa himself rescued other concert goers by using his Gibson guitar and smashing out the big bow windows where many of the fans would escape the flames. This event was immortalized on Machine Head with the rock and roll anthem, ‘Smoke on the Water’, where ‘Funky Claude’ gets a shout-out.
The band moved to an alternate location for a couple days but were forced to find another place to record because they were too loud. Eventually, they were able to finish the masterpiece album at the Grand Hotel, a place mentioned in Smoke on the Water.
Machine Head was the sixth studio album by the British rockers Deep Purple, written and recorded between December 6 and December 21, 1971. It consisted of their classic lineup of Ian Gillan on lead vocals, Ritchie Blackmore on guitars, Ian Paice as drummer, Roger Glover playing bass and Jon Lord on keyboards. ‘Deep Purple’ is listed as ‘producer’ of the record.
A few things to notice in this song: it boasts of a stellar display of Ian Gillan’s vocal range, especially the tribal scream leading into the first verse. Also, check out Jon Lord’s organ solo: consisting of harmonic minor scales rooted in Baroque and Classical influence. Lord was no slouch on the keyboard, being educated in classical piano starting at age 5. He was a musical genius, fusing rock and roll sounds with classical and baroque styles as he composed his pieces for Purple.
Ritchie Blackmore had an affinity for violin and cello sounds, and was often influenced by classical and medieval music. The music of Johann Sebastian Bach inspired the chord progressions in this song, which was the exact sound Blackmore was going for.
The combination of Gillan’s voice with the talent and musical intellect of Blackmore and Lord resulted in this modern day classic. It is indeed a rock and roll symphony. While Highway Star is infinitely more than just another song about fast cars, it could very well be to blame for many a speeding ticket.
Smoke on the Water
This classic song is a musical documentary on the tragic events in Montreux. The four-note blues scale melody at the beginning comprise one of the most recognized opening guitar riffs in all of Rock and Roll music. Everyone knows this signature musical phrase, which according to Blackmore, is his interpretation of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Numerous guitar players, music critics and rock magazines rank this among the greatest guitar riffs of all time. While there are many opinions on this, there is no question that its simple forcefulness has impacted more than one generation of music fans all over the world.
There aren’t many lyrics to this tune, but sometimes less is more. When you write, “You’re lazy you just stay in bed/You don’t want no money/You don’t want no bread”, there’s not much else to say. The irony over the minimal lyrics is lost in the length of the song. At over seven minutes, it is the longest track on the album. The instrumental interlude starts by showcasing keyboard extraordinaire, Jon Lord, and progresses into some bluesy guitar licks by the one and only Ritchie Blackmore. A back and forth banter ensues between the keys and guitar in a masterful instrumental conversation extending well past the halfway point of the song. Part way through the vocal piece, even a harmonica interjects in an odd, but perfectly timed manner. You wouldn’t expect a random harmonica by a rock and roll band under the heavy influence of classical music, but there it is. And it works really well! There’s nothing lazy going on in this song, but somehow we all understand.
If ever there was the ultimate drug song, this is it right? The problem is that too many people like to read meanings into lyrics that just aren’t there. Not every song with nonsensical words can be lumped into the stash of ‘drug songs’. But… Pony trekker? Borealice? Everynaut? Even Ian Gillan has said that nothing in the song is literal, it’s all nonsense. The idea of space travel was all relatively new in those days and to be entering into the space age was a cool thing to write songs about. It’s ok to make up words. The Space Cowboy himself, Steve Miller did it when he coined the ‘pompetus of love’ phrase in the Joker. There’s no hidden message here, nothing to interpret. Enjoy the song for what it is. A nice touch to the song: Ian Paice gets a drum solo in the mid-point of the space travel and it’s quite impressive.
When a Blind Man Cries
Wait, there’s no song on Machine Head by this name! At least it wasn’t on the original release. The song was recorded at the same time the others were recorded for this album, but it never made the final cut. Some sources claim there just wasn’t enough room on the vinyl to add another song (which is unlikely), and others claim Ritchie Blackmore hated it. Whatever the case, When a Blind Man Cries can be found on the 25th Anniversary edition which was released in CD form in 1997.
The Album Artwork
Owning a physical copy of Machine Head enhances the whole Deep Purple experience in ways that a convenient digital download could never accomplish. The text on the front of the album was stamped into a clean smooth piece of sheet metal and used as a mirror of sorts. Photographer Shepard Sherbell snapped the photo, and his form can be seen just below the text of ‘Head’. The fold out style album cover features photographs of the the band members on the inside, along with dramatic images of the burning Montreux Casino. A picture of Funky Claude Nobs also appears, which is a nice visual shout out for his heroics during the fire.
The paper album sleeve shows a vintage photo of a street in Burbank, California, containing a Burbank Boosters banner. The caption dates the photo September 23, 1911. There is no explanation given for why this photo is included, but the date corresponds with the day that the first Pacific Electric powered streetcar was to scheduled to arrive from Los Angeles. Including this image in the album art is apparently a nod to the Warner Brothers Record Company, which is located in Burbank.
As if there wasn’t enough album art to keep your eyes busy, a three-page poster sized foldout lyric sheet with purple script font was also included in the original album jacket, a super sweet addition to this vinyl package.
Machine Head spent 118 weeks on Billboard’s 200 Album chart in 1972 through 1973, with Smoke on the Water landing at #4 when it was released as a single in 1973. The album stands out as one of the greatest and most influential Rock and Roll albums to come out of the 70’s. It has stood the test of time, pleasing its listeners for almost a half century.
If you’re ready for some LIVE Rock-n-Roll, then get to the Craft House Stage & Grill on February 26! We will be opening up for a Styx cover band. It’s going to be a great night of Classic Rock music!
Start time and ticket information will be available soon!
The Journey album cover art in the late-70’s is just as iconic as their music. Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse were the creative artistic minds behind many of the early Journey album covers. Their storied careers began with the creation of psychedelic promotional concert posters in California. They were responsible for such classic album covers as Styx’s Grand Illusion, the Steve Miller Band’s Book of Dreams and many Grateful Dead albums.
The Infinity album is almost hot to the touch with the flaming wings on this famous cover. One look at it and instantly ‘Wheel in the Sky’ bubbles to the top of your mind’s playlist. The peaceful scene of the earth appearing in the marble shape is ushered into far and distant worlds by the glowing wings which appear to be suspended in outer space. There is no limit to where your journey takes you when you’re accompanied by good and creative music. The wheel in the sky keeps on turning, don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow. The wings and marble world are wrapped in the band name appropriately in the form of the infinity symbol.
The Evolution album cover is strangely similar to the Infinity cover, keeping with the wing theme. A mountain and stream scene within a bubble shape, wrapped tightly within the infinity symbol again. Though the theme is similar, there are some striking differences. Instead of a peaceful earth scene in the sphere, there appears to be a volcano with flowing lava. This may represent the turmoil and upheaval of the real world in which we live. This album also has different kind of wings. In contrast to the flaming wings on Infinity’s cover, the wings on Evolution are green, sprouting from an earthen brown hue. Green is often associated with renewal, rebirth, health and harmony. If that is the case, then this particular album’s artwork could represent that the music on this record offers a flight to a different place… a place of escape, a place of peace and tranquility, a place where everything goes your way.
The Infinity and Evolution album artwork has captured a universal truth about the timeless nature of classic rock music. Every note, every lyric… striking a chord that echoes into forever, painting indelible scenes on the canvas of our minds and attaching themselves permanently to our lives. This is the lure of classic rock: taking a trip to our past, returning to a better day by re-living some of our greatest moments through music.
Get ready for some LIVE Rock & Roll! It’s another night out with Trevolta at the Bonniebrook Clubhouse in Butler on Friday, November 20th. Joining us will be the most awesome rockers, Macro Aggression. They play freakin’ loud music… something we have in common!
There’s no cover charge and it’s an all-ages show. Ear drum damage starts at 7:00pm.
All true Pittsburghers love a game of Cornhole! Assemble your team and take a road trip this Saturday to the Cadogan Softball Fields near Kittanning for a Cornhole Tournament (West Ford City Park on Ford City Road, Route 128). This is a cancer benefit event – $50 per team and prizes will be awarded! To add to the fun, Trevolta will be providing the Rock and Roll, along with Half Way Down and some other bands. The weather forecast is looking good, so we’re hoping to see you there! Festivities kick off around 11am. Trevolta hits the stage first, so don’t be late!
We recently had our equipment trailer updated to have our awesome Trevolta logo attached to both sides and the back. Check out this video clip and photo from our gig last Friday where we got to debut the upgrade!
The Bonniebrook Clubhouse didn’t get enough last month, so they’ve invited us back for another hard-hitting show! We’ll be there ready to rock and roll in Butler on Saturday, September 12th! Our friends ‘Half Way Down’ will warm up the stage for us – and they will be on starting at 7:00pm. It’s an ALL AGES show and there’s NO COVER! You don’t want to miss this one! We have a heavy-duty set list prepared and so it will be a great night to jam!
Bonniebrook Clubhouse is located at 104 Serene Ln, Butler, PA 16002
See you there!