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Number 258

Alice Cooper - School's Out (Warner Brothers K56007)

Alice Cooper summed up the last three minutes of my high school years with three simple words - School's Out Forever - poetry to my ears. I imagine now that the level of contempt I had for authority in general back then contributed to my continued disdain for school as an institution and Alice Cooper's Summer anthem perfectly matched the way I was feeling at the time. The LA-based band I'd witnessed with some disbelief on Top of the Pops in 1972, whose frontman dressed from head to toe in black leather with smeared and spidery black mascara dripping from each piercing blue eye, spoke to this fifteen year old who was himself on the eve of leaving school for good. Brandishing a theatrical sword, which he pointed menacingly at the cameras, appeared to me at the time to the Seventies what West Side Story was to the Fifties, as told by rival youth gangs, echoed in Gutter Cats vs the Jets, the flip side of the School's Out single. By this time the band had already been around for a good four years, yet it was this fifth album release, along with its title song, that helped transform the band from the novelty act they were previously to the glam rock superstars they were to become shortly afterwards. Encased in a cover resembling a vintage Sixties school desk, complete with legs and hinged lid revealing typical schoolboy detritus, designed by Craig Braun, the album climbed the UK album charts to number four, almost as quickly as the single raced to the number one spot, the album only surpassed by its successor BILLION DOLLAR BABIES the following year.