Album Review: Various Artists – Killer – 50 Years Later

Album Review: Various Artists - Killer - 50 Years Later
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

Before you even attempt to listen to this record, you need to find a copy of ‘Killer’ by Alice Cooper and immerse yourself in what is possibly the finest record that Mr Vincent Damon Furnier ever made. (The only album that comes close is ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ in my humble opinion). Once you’ve done that and marvelled at an album that was released 50 years ago, make your way to this compilation of brave souls who have been willing to provide their own take on some of the king of shock rock’s seminal anthems.

The background to ‘Killer – 50 Years Later’, stems from the co-founders of Pale Wizard Records, Tim Hilleard and Dan Flitcroft. The latter is a member of Sergeant Thunderhoof, who feature on this release, and Flitcroft is also a huge Alice Fan. Having realised that the album was about to reach its half-century, Flitcroft reached out to bands he knew, offering them full creative licence as part of the project. It’s a gamble to cover such a classic album, but this is one that appears to have paid off.

Let’s start at the beginning. Riding the crest of a wave on the back of their excellent sophomore album ‘Black Harvest’, Green Lung kick off proceedings with ‘Under My Wheels’. Their thick riffing combined with Hammond organ bring their own interpretation whilst sticking relatively close to the original. The Grand Mal’s ‘Be My Lover’ is also a rather faithful version but Sergeant Thunderhoof’s ‘Halo of Flies’, all 8:40 is given free reign whilst still maintaining the shape and flavour of the real track.

Album Review: Various Artists - Killer - 50 Years Later

Both Ritual King and 1968 take things a little further. Ritual King’s cover of ‘Desperado’ adds over a minute onto the original, whilst the sludgy feel of 1968’s ‘You Drive Me Nervous’ is raucous and definitely not a homage. But it’s Trippy Wicked’s version of ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ that really shakes things up with a fuzzed up distorted delivery that is almost unrecognisable in comparison to the song of 1971.

By now this album is really living up to its promise. Far removed from the stale and routine covers that are often submitted on such a compilation, this has some of the best cover versions I’ve heard. Mos Generator’s ‘Dead Babies’ cover retains the sinister edge that Cooper and band produced in 1971, whilst you can rely on Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell to bring their own spin, which they do magnificently on the seven-minute title track.

That’s ‘Killer’ finished but there’s a tasty bonus with four additional versions of Cooper classics to get stuck into. Alunah do a great job on the teen anthem ‘I’m Eighteen’, Suns of Thunder genuinely bring it on Billion Dollar Babies whilst Possessor’s raging version of ‘Muscle of Love’ swaggers and sways with an arrogance that is brilliant to hear. Rounding things off is Sound of Origin and their menacing performance of ‘Sick Things’.

Of course, there is no substitute for the original and although too young to acknowledge it at the time, I was a whole one year old, ‘Killer’ stands tall today. This release is a fabulous tribute to an album that everyone should at least listen to once in their lifetime.

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