SickthingsUK: Zipper Catches Skin

Even the return of Dick Wagner couldn't save 'Zipper Catches Skin' for many people. But in fact it's arguable that this is a much better release then the preceeding 'Special Forces'. Certainly 'Zorro's Ascent' is a great track and 'I Am The Future' (from the b-movie horror 'Class Of 1984') has a lot of atmosphere. In fact once you get into it there really isn't a bad track on the album, it's just not what most fans want to hear from Alice Cooper.


August 25th(?) 1982

Track listing

  1. Zorro's Ascent (Cooper, Nitzinger, Scott, Steele)(3:56)
  2. Make That Money (Scrooge's Song) (Cooper, Wagner)(3:30)
  3. I Am The Future (Schifrin, Osborne)(3:29)
  4. No Baloney Homosapiens (Cooper, Wagner)(5:06)
  5. Adaptable (Anything For You) (Cooper, Scott, Steele)(2:56)
  6. I Like Girls (Cooper, Nitzinger, Scott)(2:24)
  7. Remarkably Insincere (Cooper, Nitzinger, Scott)(2:07)
  8. Tag, You're It (Cooper, Nitzinger, Scott)(2:54)
  9. I Better Be Good (Cooper, Scott, Wagner)(2:48)
  10. I'm Alive (That Was The Day My Dead Pet Returned To Save My Life) (Cooper, Scott, Wagner)(3:15)

Musicians

  • Alice Cooper - Vocals, Synthesizer
  • Erik Scott - Bass
  • Jan Uvena - Drums, Percussion
  • John Nitzinger - Guitar
  • Richard Wagner - Guitar
  • Mike Pinera - Guitar
  • Billy Steele - Guitar
  • Duane Hitchings - Synthesizer
  • Craig Kampf - Percussion
  • Frannie Golde, Joanne Harris, Flo and Eddie - Backing Vocals
  • Patty Donahue - Vocals and Sarcasm

Sleeve Notes

Produced By Alice Cooper and Erik Scott
Recorded and Mixed by Dee Robb at Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles
"I Am The Future" produced by Steve Tyrell, recorded by Ed Barton at Jennifudy Studios, Los Angeles.
Photography by Jonathan Exley
Cover concept by Alice Cooper and Jonathan Exley
Art Direction/Design: Jimmy Wachtel

Album Notes - (Detailed release information)


Alice and Patti Donahue in the studio for 'I Like Girls'.
Photo courtesy of Erik Scott

On the conclusion of the 'Special Forces' tour in February 1982 Alice headed back into the studio surprisingly quickly and he took the touring band with him. He also called old friend Dick Wagner back to help write and play on the album although he left before the album was completed. Production was handled by bassist Erik Scott and Alice himself and the album is an explosion of energy, continuing the style of 'Special Forces' but possibly even more punk/new wave influenced.

Neither the album, or the two singles 'I Am The Future' and 'I Like Girls' bothered the charts at all.

Dick Wagner in 2004:

"'Zipper Catches Skin' was a drug induced nightmare in itself. I won't go into details..it's all too painful to re-tell. I wrote a lot of the songs with Cooper [for 'Zipper...'] and played some guitar, but I left before the album was finished and felt glad to go home. "

Alice's drug use was clearly getting out of control. That he managed to do anything is a small miracle, but as Erik Scott recalled in 2005 things wereactually pretty well organised:

"In some cases Alice would have some lyrics, a verse or a concept, and we would develop music to fit the mood or match the cadence of lyrics. At other times, the players on the album got together in a rehearsal hall and starting coming up with musical ideas, if anything caught Alice's attention we would develop it while Alice worked on a lyrical motif, and as his lyrics took shape and the concept of the song started to emerge, we would shape, or reshape the music to fit the song concept. In these collaborative efforts, a free for all could develop as ideas were considered and either discarded or would morph into something else, the quest being to develop a cool musical landscape that set the stage for the lyric. If I remember correctly, "Make That Money" was already in existence to a fair degree, having been worked on by Alice and Wagner previously. "I Am The Future" was mostly outside from Lalo Schifrin.
I had production experience prior to Alice, and I helped with the recordings for the French video [The TV Special in 1982]. When it was decided to do the 'For Britain Only' EP, management couldn't come to an agreement with the right producer in the time allowed, so Alice and I did it. That went pretty well, so when it was time to record the next album, we discussed Alice and I doing the production. Alice had strong ideas for the direction of the record, and I was very much interested in getting involved with the production, so we did it.
In practice, it involved pre-session discussions, and of course the investigation of all the ideas that came during the writing and rehearsal periods. We were both in the studio during the recording, constantly tweaking and trying to get to where Alice had envisioned. These sessions were predominantly recorded during the day, so Alice and I would frequently meet in the evenings to monitor and discuss the days' progress and to plan the next days' sessions."

Patti Donahue, who adds "vocals and sarcasm" to 'I Like Girls', was the singer by new wave/post-punk band 'The Waitresses'. Alice in 1983

""Isn't she great! I consider her the Eve Arden of rock and roll, 'cause she's got the greatest cynicism. I'd be driving in the car and every time I'd want to turn up the radio, it was Patty Donahue. You know how, if you hear something you like and you don't know who it is, you turn it up. Four different times it was the Waitresses. Their lyrics were so funny! I requested her purposely for 'I Like Girls'. I produced this album, so I was able to direct the whole thing. And I said to her "Give me everything you can.""

Billy Steele, so co-wrote 'Zorro's Ascent' and 'Adaptable', was an old band mate and friend of Erik Scotts.

The blood on the front cover is actually real, and provided by Brian Nelson, Alice's personal assistant/archivist

'Make That Money' was actually taken from a concept based on 'Scrooge' that Alice was working on back in the late 70's with Dick Wagner.

The song 'I Am The Future' is played in the movie 'Class of 84' but in a remixed form. When it was released as a single it was marketed as being from the film.

The album is dedicated to "Barlow", the vampire in Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot'. Alice: "Barlow is my hero. Out of all the scary movies I've ever seen in my life, he is still the scariest character. When he comes up the first time, on that guy in jail. I drop about three pounds of food into my pants! I only dedicate things to people I really care about."

'Zipper Catches Skin' Live

Despite the success of the 'Special Forces' tour there was no tour supporting 'Zipper Catches Skin' and none of the songs on 'Zipper Catches Skin' have ever been performed live.