Battle Axe

Review

Euclid's axiom states "The whole is equal to the sum of all the parts and is greater than any of its parts." That being said, you have no idea how dreadful this album is. Where a George Harrison can rival the Beatles with All Things Must Pass, three ex-members of the Alice Cooper Group have no excuse for forcing this difficult set of songs on the world. The title track, "Battle Axe," with a Bob Dolin composition ("Sudden Death") stuck inside of it, is bombast, some fragments of the Killer album's tune "Dead Babies," but not much else. Co-guitarist Michael Bruce is the lead singer, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith remain, and with the addition of guitarist Mike Marconi and keyboard/synthesist Bob Dolin they cannot survive the loss of Alice Cooper, and even Glen Buxton. The production is as weak as the Spiders From Mars album, where David Bowie's rhythm section decided to pull the same stunt a year before this. The tune "Winner" says the "billion dollar babies got the world," referring to this band, but the truth is, Alice Cooper is the billion dollar baby, and without the star, a song like "Too Young" doesn't come across. Michael Bruce re-recorded "Too Young" six years later on his Rock Rolls On disc, but this version is better. At the risk of sounding as redundant as this band, "Too Young" doesn't come across, but is better than its eventual remake. Big Brother & the Holding Company and the Doors at least came up with competent and interesting albums after their respective stars evaporated. Why Billion Dollar Babies, or Spiders From Mars, for that matter, didn't find an interesting character to back up is a pity; maybe Rob Grill from the Grass Roots or even Spanky McFarlane from Spanky & Our Gang or, even more obscure, Signe Anderson, original vocalist from the Jefferson Airplane. Putting a paradox together and making some rock history is certainly better than being a bad footnote, and that is all a song like "Shine Your Love" warrants. Equally depressing about this outing is that Bruce, Dunaway, and Smith recorded Easy Action, an album that borrowed from garage rock and British punk. Those elements are absent from this homogenized metal. "I Miss You" falls flat, a modified Barrett Strong "Money" riff goes nowhere. The ballad "Wasn't I The One" shows the flaws in Bruce's voice. This would be a great tune for Ian Hunter, as it sounds like early Mott the Hoople without the production and without the charisma. Alice Cooper should actually cut this track; it adds a little density that was missing in his adult contemporary hits like "Only Women Bleed." Producer Jack Douglas co-writes the other substantial track here, "Rock n' Roll Radio." and that track is produced by the band and Lee DeCarlo "in association with Jack Douglas." Having their engineer, DeCarlo, co-produce was as much a mistake as having Michael Bruce front this band. They should have sought out Chad Allan, Cindy Bullens, Sky Saxon, Captain Beefheart, Dana Gillespie, Little Joe Cook, someone, anyone, with personality to bring some life to this turkey. ~ Joe Viglione, Rovi

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