SickthingsUK: Trash

1989 saw Alice's comeback running full steam, but few could have predicted what a change of label (to Epic) would bring. Enlisting the hit maker of the time, Desmond Child, Alice created an album designed specifically to hit the top of the charts, and it pretty much succeed on every level. Epic ploughed money into promotion and pushed 'Poison' to the top of the charts worldwide and a string of follow up singles kept the profile high along with a huge world tour that even took in Japan for the first time. Unfortunately what got lost in the shuffle was the Alice Cooper fans loved. This is less of an Alice album and more of a Desmond Child and friends record with little of the humour or horror older fans loved. Essential in as much as it was Alice's most commercially successful album, and many newer fans hail it as a classic. But others feel it's lacking a key ingredient, Alice Cooper!!


July 25th 1989 (August 7th in the UK)

Track listing

  1. Poison (Cooper, Child, McCurry)(4:28)
  2. Spark In The Dark (Cooper, Child)(3:51)
  3. House Of Fire (Cooper, Jett, Child)(3:46)
  4. Why Trust You (Cooper, Child)(3:12)
  5. Only My Heart Talkin' (Bruce Roberts, Andy Goldmark, Cooper)(4:46)
  6. Bed Of Nails (Cooper, Warren, Child)(4:20)
  7. This Maniac's In Love With You (Cooper, Roberts)(3:47)
  8. Trash (Cooper, Frazier, Sever, Child)(4:01)
  9. Hell Is Living Without You (Cooper, Bon Jovi, Sambora, Child)(4:11)
  10. I'm Your Gun (Cooper, McCurry, Child)(3:47)

Musicians

  • Alice Cooper - Vocals
  • John McCurry (from The Hooters) - Guitar
  • Hugh McDonald - Bass
  • Bobby Chouinard - Drums
  • Alan St. John - Keyboards
  • Steven Tyler - Vocals on 'Only My Heart Talkin''
  • Jon Bon Jovi - Vocals on 'Trash'
  • Kip Winger - Vocals on 'I'm Your Gun'
  • Joe Perry - Guitar on 'House Of Fire'
  • Richie Sambora - Guitar on 'Hell Is Living Without You'
  • Steve Lukather - Guitar on 'Hell Is Living Without You'
  • Kane Roberts - Guitar on 'Bed Of Nails'
  • Guy Mann-Dude - Guitar on 'Spark In The Dark', 'Why Trust You' and 'This Maniac's In Love With You'
  • Tom Hamilton - Bass on 'Trash'
  • Joey Kramer - Drums on 'Trash'
  • Mark Frazier - Guitar on 'Trash'
  • Jack Johnson - Guitar on 'Trash'
  • Paul Chiten - Additional Keyboards
  • Steve Deutsch - Synth Programming
  • Gregg Mangiafico - Keyboards, Special Effects
  • Background Vocals - Myriam Valle, Maria Vidal, Diana Graselli, Desmond Child, Bernie Shanahan,
    Louie Merlino, Alan St. John, Tom Teeley, Michael Anthony, Stiv Bators, Hugh McDonald,
    Jango, Jamie Sever, Joe Turano

Sleeve Notes

Produced by Desmond Child
Recorded by Sir Arthur Payson (and Obie O'Brian)
Mixed by Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero
Recorded in:

  • Bearsville Studios, New York (Assistant Engineer: George Cowan)
  • Power Station, New York (Assistant Engineer: Ben Fowler)
  • Sigma Sound, New York (Assistant Engineers: Brian Sterber and Don Peterkofsky)
  • Mediasound, New York (Assistant Engineer: Lolly Grodner)
  • Village Recorder, Los Angeles (Assistant Engineer: Robert Hart)
  • The Complex, Los Angeles (Assistant Engineer: Duane Seykora)
  • Record Plant, Los Angeles (Engineer: John Hermnan)
  • Jay Studios, Boston (Assistant Engineer: Mark Tanzer)
  • Sanctuary Sound, New Jersey (Assistant Engineer: Nick DiDia)
Production Manager: Michael Anthony
Executive Producer: Bob Pfeifer

Album Notes - (Detailed release information)

'Constrictor' and 'Raise Your Fist And Yell' had re-established Alice Cooper as both a recording artist and live performer after the dark days of the early eighties but 'Trash' was the album that put him back at the very top.

In early 1989 Alice was leaving MCA Records, who had put out the last two albums, and needed a new deal for his next album. He and Shep were personal friends with Bob Pfeifer, who at the time an A&R executive at Epic records. Bob offered them a deal. He would put the full promotion power of Epic behind Alice Cooper if Alice delivered the sort of album needed to be a hit.


The 'Trashes The World' tour programme.

So the target was set. Alice had to strip away the horror a little and clean up his image so it would appeal to more then just the metalheads and classic rock audiences. It'd recently been done successfully by several other acts like Bon Jovi and Aerosmith, who as a result had gone on to sell millions. Alice looked at these other acts, the same acts he kept hearing on the radio over and over again while driving around town, and one name kept popping up in all the records... Desmond Child.

"The way I judge a record is this: when I'm driving my Corvette, if I hear something that makes me want to turn up the radio - to me that's a great record. 'Beds Are Burning' by Midnight Oil, 'Dude (Looks Like A Lady)' by Aerosmith, and all the Bon Jovi singles were great - 'You Give Love A Bad Name' was unbelievable. 'Heaven's On Fire' by Kiss, 'I Hate Myself For Loving You' by Joan Jett... Eight out of ten records I found myself turning up were co-written by Desmond Child. So I said: 'I've got to get in touch with this guy because he's writing the kind of music I would like to hear Alice doing on the radio'."

Child was known as a 'hit maker', the guy you brought in if you neeeded a hit single. He had an uncanny ability of creating the big choruses and radio friendly rock sound that caught people's attention, and had worked on multi-platinum albums like 'Slippery When Wet' and 'New Jersey' by Bon Jovi, 'Permanent Vacation' and 'Pump' by Aerosmith, and 'Crazy Nights' by Kiss, all of which had seen an upturn in the artists fortunes and featured huge hit singles.

With Child on board work began on an album, origially titled 'Low Class Reunion', with Alice and Child sitting down to write a bunch of songs that were purposely written to be hits. The horror themes of the previous didn't have the mainstream appeal needed to break out, but as the age old saying goes... "sex sells", and so that became the basic theme to the album. "Less red, more Bad" as Alice liked to say in interviews. Child also brought in many of his previous clients to guest on the album, which never hurts for publicity purposes.

Alice in 1989:

"I didn't want to paint myself into a corner with blood, 'cause I think if I would have done another album like that, people would have said, 'Well, that's all Alice can do anymore–just horror.' I wanted to show a different side; that Alice can also write about this. And, you know, in some cases, sex is more dangerous than horror. Plus I didn't want to write lyrics-to-riffs like we did on 'Constrictor' and 'Raise Your Fist and Yell'. I really wanted to write songs, like we did on 'Billion Dollar Babies', and Desmond is such a great songwriter that it was very easy. We wrote 22 songs and had to narrow it down to 10."

Some of those discarded song titles included: 'The Ballad of Alice Cooper' (By Jon Bon Jovi), 'Bad Angel', 'Good Girl Gone Bad', and 'Low Class Reunion' which was considered as the album title. 'It Rained all Night' was written by Alice and Desmond Child and was demoed during the 'Trash' sessions. It eventually recorded properly for during the 'Hey Stoopid' sessions and ended up as the B-side to 'Hey Stoopid'

The album was completed in by the summer of 1989 and as promised Bob Pfeifer and Epic threw everything they had behind it. There was a huge advertising campaign in the press, endless interviews, and no less then four singles were pulled from the album, each promoted with an expensive video clip.

The first single, 'Poison', was released on July 7th ahead of the album and shot up the charts. The perfect mix of Child' pop rock and Alice's darkness it eventually reached #7 in the US and #2 in the UK, making it Alice's biggest ever hit single, after 'School's Out' (but only because that hit #1 in the UK). Radio loved it and played it endlessly, while MTV put the video on heavy rotation. In the summer of 1989 you couldn't fail to hear the song.

The main riff of 'Poison' originally turned up in a John Waite song called 'Encircled' which was also co-written by John McCurry. John took the idea to Childs and a new song was written around it.

'Poison' set everything up nicely for the album, now entitled 'Trash', which was unleashed a few weeks later. Featuring a simple cover photo of Alice, without the trademark make-up, standing in a leather jacket and looking down against a grey background, the album entered the charts high and reached #20 in the US, but #2 in the UK and top 10 in many other countries. In September 'Bed Of Nails' was released as the second single, and while not hitting the heights of 'Poison' (most people already had it on the album by then) it served to keep Alice on the radio and TV, as did a third single, 'House Of Fire' (#80), when it was released in November. A fourth single, 'Only My Heart Talkin'' was released to coincide with the US dates. It reached #89 in the US but #47 in Australia where it was also released.

The album was launched at 'The Cathouse' in Los Angeles and in the morning Alice personally delivered copies of the new record to three record stores in the area, travelling on the back of a garbage truck. He then traveled to Europe for a promotional tour and in August received a star on the Royal Oak, MI 'Walk Of Fame'. All these and other promotional activities ensure no end of stories for the press.

In September he appeared at the launch party for 'Shocker', a new horror movie with a rock soundtrack put together by Desmond Child. The soundtrack featured Alice singing 'Shockdance' as well as co-writing another song with Child. It also featured thrash band Megadeth's cover of 'No More Mr Nice Guy' which served to get a little more publicity for Alice when it was a minor hit.

Alice also had a track on the soundtrack to 'Iron Eagle II'. This was a cover of the old Spirit song 'I Got A Line On You' especially recorded for the film. It also appeared on some 12" versions of 'Poison'. Years later The Hollywood Vampires would also do a version of the track on their first album.

The tour promoting Trash began in Belgium on November 21st and continued through North America and Australia in the new year. It was so successful, especially in Europe, that in July 1990 he returned for more shows, and finally visited Japan to play his first ever shows there. During the US dates a fourth and final single and video were released, 'Only My Heart Talkin'', but failed to make a dent in the charts dispite being added to the show setlist.

There are three different versions of the 'Poison' video which, while basically the same, feature the female character in various states of undress include appearing topless. The girl in the video is Rana Kennedy. For the topless version however a body double was used so that is NOT Rana. The three versions were made for different markets with differing rules relating to nudity on TV.

>A VHS video compilation called 'Video Trash' was released comprising three promotional videos from this album with specially shot linking footage. The transitional pieces were shot in Birmingham, England on the day of the filming of 'Trashes The World' concert film. The videos included were 'Poison', 'House of Fire', and 'Bed of Nails' and in total the tape was about 20 minutes long. The fourth video for 'Only My Heart Talkin'' was not included, but shot at the same time as the others.

During the githic introduction to 'Bed Of Nails' voices can be heard, but the words a delibrately hard to make out. Brian Nelson recalled "I think the beginning of 'Bed of Nails' was some passage out of some dumb book that Desmond Child had."

'Trash' Live

The 'Alice Cooper Trashes The World' tour featured a completely new show (again designed by Joe Gannon) and all new musicians. Staged in three sections the show started with Alice without the make up going through a selection of mainly older songs before the stage decorations turned around to reveal a more horror themed setup and Alice in make up returned for songs like 'Steven', 'Welcome To My Nightmare' and Ballad Of Dwight Fry'. After 'I Love The Dead' and the guillotine the set turned back again for the end of the show which featured more upbeat material.

The show opened to the sound of 'Hello Hooray' on tape before Alice, dressed in bright red plastic pants and leather jacket, burst from a giant trash can. Without the multi-level platforms of the previous two tours the band are immediatly more mobile, able to move around the stage with much more freedom then the previous band, who apart from Kane Roberts were rather trapped. Next up they dipped into the classics for 'Billion Dollar Babies' (with doll and money sword) and 'I'm Eighteen' (with a pool cue). The old songs were much closer to the originals then the metalised versions of the Kane Roberts band. 'I'm Your Gun' returns us to the new album before 1971's Desperado' gets it's first ever live perfomance in an Alice Cooper show.


Alice reappears to sing 'Poison' in 1989.

'House Of Fire' and 'No More Mr Nice Guy' lead into 'This Maniac's In Love With You' with Alice singing to a life-size cardboard cutout of himself, in the old make up and costume. He tears it up before the voice of Vincent Price (as used on the 1979 tour) "Alice... Alice, what are you doing here.. Alice.. admit that you're sick... Alice tell me how it started... think back... thing waaaaay back..." and the opening keyboards of 'Steven' begin the 'Nightmare' section of the show. A nurse and two doctors appear and drag Alice off stage and while the band continue the song instrumentally the audience watch a screen showing Alice being held down by the doctors. The nurse re-appears holding carrying a black leather costume and proceeds to apply paint to Alice's face. Finally as the music builds to a crescendo Alice partially breaks free and turns to the camera, revealing the classic Cooper make up! The doctors drag him away and throw him towards the stage as the band concude 'Steven'. Unseen by the audience (whoare watching the screen) the silver mirrored spikes that surrounded the stage during the opening section of the show had revolved, revealing severed heads, torsos, dead babies, chains and other horrific things. The stage lighting has also changed form the bright lights at the start of the show to the dark greens and red of a nightmare. The whole look of the stage had completely changed and watching it live was extraordinarily exciting. Newer fans brought in by 'Trash' probably ha no idea what was going on, but the old fans knew... This was our Alice Cooper.

Alice arrived through the smoke to the opening of 'Welcome To My Nightmare' in full gothic mode. Jason ('Friday The 13th'), Michael Myers ('Halloween') and Freddy Krueger ('A Nighmare On Elm Street') appear briefly tring to grab Alice but he escapes. The nurse and doctors reappear and strap him into the straightjacket for '... Dwight Fry' which is performed in the traditinal way, Alice escaping and straggling the nurse at the end. 'Gutter Cat vs. The Jets' has Alice and guitarists ganging up to fight another gang, Alice now in a clockwork orange jacket as he sings "I'm singing in the rain.." in reference to the famous film. 'Naturally a 'Street Fight' ensues with Alice facing off against one of the 'Gutter Cats', grabbing them and slitting their throat... Cue 'Only Women Bleed' where the victim is revealed to be a woman and proceeds as usual. The stage goes dark as 'I Love The Dead' begins and the covered guillotine is wheeled onto the stage. A hooded goon grabs Alice, places in it and off comes his head. The execution dips his hand int the box, coming out covered in blood, and then presents the severed head to the crowd before existing the stage.

A brief guitar spotlight gives Al Pitrelli a chance to show off (and the stage to revert to it's original configuration), teasing the next song before 'Poison' brings the house down, Alice appearing on top of the giant trash can in his album cover costume. He struts across the stage picking out the women in the crowd to point at, "You're Poison". There then follows a race through 'Muscle Of Love' (first time since 1973), 'Spark In The Dark' (with scantily dressed women teasing Alice and Al), and 'Bed Of Nails' (with the nail jacket) before 'School's Out' closed the main show. Of course they returned for a final 'Under My Wheels' with very brief band introductions, Alice wearing his "Die Yuppie Scum" shirt.

The show, of course, was a huge success, catering as it did to both new and old fans alike, and while some old fans weren't to keen on the slick, radio friendly 'Trash' few could be dissapointed by the stage show. The new songs sounded better live and the old songs were performed with style and energy.

Alice had originally approached Steve Vai to play guitar on the tour but he wasn't available due to previous commitments (with Whitesnake). Steve recommended Al Pitrelli who was more capable of the task. Vai would however conrtibute to the next studio album 'Hey Stoopid'

Eric Singer replaced Jonathon Mover for the US shows and remained with Alice on and off for many years to come, eventually leaving to devote more time to his other band, Kiss.

'Muscle of Love' had been dropped by the time they reached Detroit in 1990 to be replaced by 'Only My Heart Talking' which had been released as a single. It normally included a drum solo by Eric Singer. 'Department Of Youth' was performed in Australia where it had been a big hit. 'He's Back' was played in Sweden for the saame reason. 'The Awakening' was played during the 'Nightmare' sequence in Brussels, 21st November but was dropped after that one night. 'Is It My Body' was played at the first few shows as well but dropped, probably because the show was too long.

Beyond the 'Trashes The World' tour a few songs from the album survived into the next show. Just 'Trash', 'Bed Of Nails' and of course 'Poison', which has remained in the show ever since and is never likely to be dropped. After the 'Hey Stoopid' tour however appearances by anything other than 'Poison' were rare. 'Trash' appeared briefly in 2002, and 'House Of Fire' was a regular part of the 'Raise The Dead' show between 2012 and 2015 but nothing else has made an appearance since 1992."

The Birmingham, UK shows were filmed for the home video 'Trashes The World' which reached the music video charts and is still easily availble on DVD.

The Performers

  • Alice Cooper - Vocals
  • Al Pitrelli - Guitar, Backing Vocals
  • Pete Friesen - Guitar, Backing Vocals
  • Tommy 'T-Bone' Carradona - Bass, Backing Vocals
  • Derek Sherinian - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
  • Jonathan Mover - drums, Backing Vocals (replaced by Eric Singer for US and Australia).
  • Devon Meade - Backing Vocals

Setlist

  • Hello Hooray tape
  • Trash
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • I'm Eighteen
  • I'm Your Gun
  • Desperado
  • House of Fire
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • This Maniac's In Love With You
  • Steven
  • Welcome to My Nightmare
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Gutter Cat versus the Jets
  • Only Women Bleed
  • I Love the Dead
  • Guitar Solo
  • Poison
  • Muscle of Love
  • Spark in the Dark
  • Bed of Nails
  • School' Out
  • Under My Wheels