School's Out Alice Cooper (Warner Bros) Alice Cooper - born Vincent Damon Furnier - first made his mark as a maverick rocker in 1969. His shtick hasn't changed much over the decades: keep the live show shocking using electric chairs, fake blood, snakes, grotesque dolls, and other props from the interconnected worlds of vaudeville, horror films, and rock'n'roll. Alice Cooper's fifth studio album isn't quite as incendiary as its predecessors, but it does deliver one timeless killer track, which became the highest-charting single of Cooper's long career, and has been a radio staple on classic rock channels since the seven-inch vinyl found its way into countless homes in the fourth year of Richard Nixon's presidency, and into the psyche of a troubled and rebellious nation, as its B-52s thundered over Hanoi. All the usual Cooper preoccupations are here on these nine cuts: mental illness, juvenile delinquency, adolescent angst, rebellion, the meanness of grown-ups, random weirdness, as well as some fairly engaging tunes. Nevertheless, there's nothing to match the opener - the euphoric white heat of School's Out, which, for generations of youngsters, has been the three-minute soundtrack of the last day of the summer term. The album feels a bit like it wants to be a concept album, but without the full execution. And amid some filler there are some enduring experiments, as well as considerable stylistic variety. Gutter Cat Versus The Jets owes its theme and showbiz bravado to West Side Story. Cooper showcases his cabaret-esque persona impressively on the jazzy Blue Turk. And the spaced-out My Stars has its moments. On Alma Mater, Cooper turns all sensitive singer-songwriter, for the kind of predictably ridiculous song that the artist appears to have been contractually obliged to include one of on all his 1970s albums. The lengthy Grande Finale wraps up the proceedings with the kind of self-parodying pomp that Cooper has long been both adored and derided for. Producer Bob Ezrin managed to create a massively overwrought sound on most of those tracks, which proved almost impossible to reproduce live. And so aside from School's Out, few of these songs have been aired in concert. The mega-selling School's Out didn't become a template for anyone else; however, Lauryn Hill recycled the cover art for her superb 1998 album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - a much better exploration of what it feels like to grow up in the United States.