Alice Cooper Gets Heavy and Terrible on ‘Raise Your Fist and Yell’

Alice Cooper wasn’t keen to waste his new life after roaring back with the 1986s Constrictorand he quickly followed up with the career-rejuvenating LP Raise your fist and shoutpublished on Sept. 29, 1987. Constrictor found the veteran shock rocker emerging from self-imposed music industry exile with newfound sobriety, clarity of purpose and a metallic edge to contend with a fresh generation of big-haired Sunset Strip rockers.

He continued the course Raise your fist and shoutagain aided by lacing, Rambo-esque guitarist and co-writer Kane Roberts and bassist and future winger namesake Kip Winger. Eighties metal producer du jour Michael Wagener (The dock, Extreme, Skid Row) handled the production, giving Cooper’s 10th solo album (and 17th overall) a smooth pop-metal sheen with an emphasis on Roberts’ dizzying shredding and Cooper’s piss-and-vinegar vocals.

Time might have quenched Cooper’s thirst for debauchery, but it did nothing to dull his righteous anger. Raise your fistthe opening track, “Freedom,” takes aim at the Parents Music Resource Center, the committee founded by Tipper Gore in 1985, which released a “Filthy Fifteen” list of morally objectionable songs (including AC/DC, Motley Crue, Judas Priest, Twisted sister, Black Sabbath and WASP) and slapped Parental Advisory stickers on albums with explicit lyrics. “You will rule us with an iron fist“, Cooper taunts on the field.”You change the lyrics and become Big Brother / This ain’t Russia, you ain’t my father or mother!

“I never left the stage of my development where I hated great authority and also fought against it,” Cooper shared. Metal hammer in 1988. “I wrote the song ‘Freedom’ instead of a letter of complaint to let the PMRC and everyone they stand for know what I think of them. This group is not to be taken too seriously. Really, they’re just four old ladies in Washington, trying to get as much publicity as possible for their men, all of whom are influential politicians.Since the head of the PMRC, Albert Gore, himself admitted that he used to smoke pot and listen to loud rock music when he was a child, the movement won’t last long anyway.”

Watch Alice Cooper’s ‘Freedom’ video

This spirit of youthful defiance permeates the other anthemic tracks Raise your fistfirst page, including “Lock Me Up” (I’m in for the kill / I’m back with a rage / I want them to write in the paper every night how I bled the scene!) and “Give the radio back” (You think I’m wasting all my precious time / You say my music should be a crime / Well, give the radio back … to the lunatics!) But it’s on the back half that Cooper indulges his other love: macabre, over-the-top horror.

“Prince of Darkness”, which originally appeared on the soundtrack to John Carpenter‘s 1987 supernatural horror film of the same name starts page 2 of Raise your fist and shout with an evocative tale of a godless, black-hearted creature determined to destroy humanity. “Time to Kill” and “Chop, Chop, Chop” leave little to the imagination with their thick, shock metal titles and lyrics that could easily describe any of the villains in thriving slasher flick franchises such as Halloween, Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street. But that’s the last two songs on it Raise your fist and shout — the ominous, keyboard-driven “Gail” and the morbid shred-fest “Roses on White Lace” — showing just how sharp Cooper’s songwriting still was.

“It’s kind of autobiographical,” Cooper shared Kerrang! in 1987 while explaining the album ending one-two punch. “This guy watches so many horror videos – that’s all he does – to the point where he doesn’t know if he’s in the videos or just watching. And for some reason he keeps killing – but all his victims are named Gail, every single one. He just keeps killing them and he can’t tell the difference between actors in the videos and real victims! And finally when he killed this girl in the song ‘Gail’ and he thinks about her bones in the ground and about how the bugs are inside her ribcage and the dog is digging up the bones – he wonders how the dog remembers Gail.”

Then it hits him. “And he sees this wedding dress, and it has bloodstains all over it—but he doesn’t see the bloodstains, he sees roses!” Cooper exclaimed. “This guy’s a romantic, you know? He’s so crazy, he looks at this blood and all he sees is roses. ‘Roses on white lace’ is the whole thing about him not knowing that really is blood. For him, he’s painted these lovely roses on this white dress. So he really is a psycho.”

Listen to Alice Cooper’s ‘Roses on White Lace’

Cooper matched Raise your fist‘s lyrical grotesquery with a smorgasbord of horrific stunts on the accompanying Live in the Flesh tour, including chopping up prostitutes, beheading monsters and hanging himself from his infamous gallows. The production was so intense that the German government demanded that he remove parts of the show, including the beheading of a pregnant woman and the impaling of baby dolls on a sword, after reports emerged from England of girls fainting among audience. An unsuccessful crusade to ban the show outright in England was also launched – ironically by blind politician David Blunkett.

As always, some critics derided Cooper’s stage presence as distasteful shit, but the singer had a different view. “Alice takes it to the point where it’s not violence anymore, where it becomes fun,” he said Kerrang! “It’s the same with horror movies. When I first saw it Friday the 13th I said, ‘Hey, this is really violent, I hope people will be able to take this’. But after about the fourth, I started laughing at them and saying, “This is really funny!”

With hungry young rockers like Faster Pussycat and Guns ‘n’ Roses in tow, Cooper’s Live in the Flesh tour proved he could still run with the pack. Unfortunately, it did little to help his album’s commercial prospects. Raise your fist and shout conked out at No. 73 on the Billboard 200, and after the tour, all of his songs disappeared from his setlists until 2019, when “Roses on White Lace” made a comeback.

Still, despite being a minor entry in Cooper’s discography, Raise your fist and shout served as an important stepping stone in the singer’s career. That proved his Constrictor success was no fluke and allowed him to take his live show to whole new heights – and it set the stage for his real comeback album, 1989’s Top 20, platinum-selling Trash.

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You can’t kill Alice Cooper.

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