Killer Era

Background

Killer is the 4th Alice Cooper Group studio album and was released in 1971. Following hot on the heels of the magnificent Love It To Death, this album further demonstrated the diversity of the band with tracks jumping happily from garage rock, like Under My Wheels and Be My Lover, to less conventional, darker, material like Halo Of Flies and Dead Babies.

 

Although the album, in my opinion, just fails to hit the incredibly high standard of the previous album, Killer undoubtedly proved that the Alice Cooper Group were by no means a one-hit-wonder.

 

Under My Wheels and Be My Lover are straight-up rockers that are firm favourites with most fans. It’s clear to see how the Group were becoming so successful, they were producing great quality, radio friendly, music whilst still injecting their own twisted identity into them (Under My Wheels, for example, is about a guy who accidentally runs his girlfriend over!).

 

Halo Of Flies is an eight-minute non-conformative masterpiece full of aggressive instrumentals, clinical lyrics and, err, more aggressive instrumentals. A fond nod to their experimental routes, Halo showcases just how far each member of the Group had developed in just a few years.

 

After the madness of Halo Of Flies, the tranquil beginning to Desperado is well timed. The song, which is believed to be dedicated to Jim Morrison (who died the same your Killer was released), is without doubt one of the classiest tracks produced by the Alice Cooper Group.

 

Things become more edgy with the frantic You Drive Me Nervous and Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Alice particularly shines here with his rasping, sneering, vocals a real highlight (alongside a superb harmonica solo by him on the latter).

 

Dead Babies is one of the most controversial songs written by the Alice Cooper Group, despite the fact is was actually intended to present an anti-child neglect message. For me, this merely confirms the brilliance of the way they presented and marketed themselves. You either ‘got it’ or you didn’t, but regardless, they were able to provoke a reaction (often contempt) from wider society. Dead Babies is a brilliant, dark, sinister track that little has come close to matching since (the possible exceptions being I Love The Dead and When Hell Comes Home).

 

The album draws to a close with the haunting title track, which should only be listened to with the lights off if you’re feeling brave! The instrumental section is often used as the background for the ceremonial beheading at the live shows and has a brilliant middle-age feel to it. 

 

The impact of the final two tracks of Killer must have been immense at the time and this shouldn’t be underestimated when considering how the Alice Cooper Group managed to become so notorious in popular culture.

Killer Album Cover

Killer 12" Promotional Vinyl Album

1971, Warner Brothers, BS 2567

This USA 12" promotional vinyl album features a menacing close-up image of Neal Smith's pet snake Kachina. The front cover is especially notable as 'Alice Cooper' and 'Killer' are scrawled by the left (i.e. wrong) hand of Dennis Dunaway himself. The reason for this is that Alice and Dennis wanted the writing to look like the hand of a serial killer, and Dennis was more than happy to play that role (which he pulls off very well)!

 

Original presses of Killer featured a deluxe gatefold sleeve complete with detachable fold out calendar. Presumably, this was designed to irate parents as the chosen image is a rather gruesome one of Alice being hung at the gallows! As this is a first press promotional copy, the year featured on the calendar is 1972, but 1973 and 1974 versions were also produced. Another notable feature of the release is that the gatefold opens from the left side rather than the right, like most albums of this design. This was presumably due to the way in which the calendar was attached to the sleeve.

 

Also provided on the inside of the sleeve is an image of the extremely long-haired Alice Cooper Group (plus Kachina) in full glam regalia, plus track listings and credits. On the rear of the sleeve is a further image taken from the same photo session.

 

As this is a promotional copy, it includes white Warner Brothers vinyl labels and an additional DJ timing strip on the rear of the sleeve, which provides the track titles and durations of every song together with the total running time of each side of the album.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer 12" Vinyl Album

1971, Warner Brothers, K 56005

This UK 1st pressing of Killer is almost identical to the promotional copy (above) only that it features alternative green Warner Brothers labels and no DJ timing strip on the rear of the sleeve.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer 12" Vinyl Album

1972, Warner Brothers, K 56005

This UK re-issue of Killer is identical to the above copy only that it features a 1973 version of the calendar, rather than 1972. The calendar has also been detached from the gatefold sleeve.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer 12" Vinyl Album

1972, Warner Brothers, GX 01-510

This Mexican 1st pressing of Asesino (i.e. Killer) comes in a simple card sleeve, which is a far cry from the deluxe packaging found in many other territories around the world (see above). An alternative front cover, featuring the calendar artwork from the original release is provided.

 

Notably though, the vinyl features distinctive gold bilingual Warner Brothers vinyl labels. This style of label is believed to have only been seen again on initial Canadian pressings of Easy Action plus Mexican releases of Easy Action, School's Out and Billion Dollar Babies. I don't know why these were used instead of the iconic olive green labels, but they certainly make these releases unique.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer 12" Vinyl Album

1980, Warner Brothers, K 56005

The German vinyl releases of Killer were notable in that they featured sleeves with white writing, rather than black. This re-issue from 1980 is one such example, with Dennis Dunaway's left-handed writing standing out better than the more commonly found versions featuring black text.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer 12" Vinyl Album

2010, Warner Brothers, GWEA-5090

This Mexican vinyl re-issue of Asesino (i.e. Killer) features similar, simplified, packaging to the original pressing from this country (above). However, provided inside this time is a one-sided 1972 card calendar that features the same image used on the Killer Tour programme.   

 

The other notable aspect of this release is that it features a nice opaque red vinyl disc. The hype sticker on the front states that this is a limited edition release, although no information is provided on production numbers.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer 12" Vinyl Album

2012, Warner Brothers, 81227 97167

This 180g re-issue of Killer by Warner Brothers comes in a gatefold sleeve. However, and despite the claims of the hype sticker on the front (i.e. "packaging replicated to the finest detail"), it does not feature the calendar which came with the original release (above).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer 12" Vinyl Album

2018, Rhino Entertainment, RCV1 2567

This 'Limited' 140 gram vinyl re-issue of Killer was released in January 2018 at the same time as additional releases of Easy Action and Welcome To My Nightmare. Each featured different colour vinyl and production numbers with this one pressed in translucent red / black and being limited to 5,200 units worldwide.

 

Unlike the above re-issue of Killer this version retains the detachable (1972) calendar of the original album.

 

Unfortunately, this version will forever be notable for one reason. It was discovered just 6 days before release date (Friday 26th January 2018) that all 5,200 units had accidentally been pressed with the music of the Easy Action release. To make matters worse, all the Easy Action vinyls (4,600 in number) were pressed with Killer music resulting in 9,800 faulty products. Doh!

 

Upon identifying this issue, a recall letter was quickly issued to retailers (see example image below), but it didn't stop several making their way out of shops. Nobody knows how many people obtained them but these will probably become quite sought after, as this is a curious error.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer Reel-To-Reel Album

1971, Warner Brothers, WST 2567 B

This USA Reel-To-Reel album features a black reel with green Warner Brothers label, which is contained inside a box that includes the original album cover artwork on the front and track listings and credits on the rear.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer 8-Track Album

1971, Warner Brothers, WAR M 82567

This USA 8-Track album features a black cartridge and includes the original album cover artwork and track listings on the front. The wrap-around sticker also provides the product code and address for Warner Brothers' Burbank offices in California on the side.

 

One notable aspect of this release is that the length of the tracks Halo Of Flies (8:22) and Dead Babies (5:44) are such that they each span more than one of the four 'programs' on the cartridge (meaning that both had interrupted playback as the reading head changed position). 

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer Cassette Album

1973 (Approx), Warner Brothers, M 56527

This USA 1st edition cassette copy of Killer is understood to have been released in the early to mid-70's and features a black 'Snapcase' box with wraparound paper cover with abridged artwork and track listings. The white cassette also includes the track listings.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer CD Album

1990, Warner Brothers, 7599-27255-2

This European CD version of Killer comes in a jewel case and features an 8-page booklet containing track listings, credits and a 1972 replica calendar on the centrefold. There is also a useful 'Notes' page featuring a short history of the Alice Cooper Group up to and including the Killer era.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer '24KT + Gold' CD Album

2009, Audio Fidelity, AFZ 048

This USA version of Killer comes on a '24KT+ Gold' CD, which is stated as having a superior quality to standard aluminium discs. Additionally, the original recording has been subject to digital remastering to provide a "warmer" sound.

 

Quite what improvement the above has had on an already classic album is, in my opinion, questionable. I'm no expert when it comes to the technical merits of remastering music, however, what is presented here merely sounds slightly different rather than better to me.

 

The inlay is nothing to write home about with just a fold out sheet featuring stock images (including the 1972 calendar) plus some of the disc labels of the original vinyl release. The gold CD is beautiful though.

 

This release is quite rare / expensive as it was limited to 5,000 individually numbered copies (of which this is #1,394). Bearing in mind the minimal improvements on offer these releases are for ardent fans only.

 

Further 24KT+ Gold releases were also made by Audio Fidelity for both the Love It To Death and School's Out albums.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Killer 'Mini LP' SHM CD Album

2011, Warner Brothers, WPCR-14302

In 2011, all the Alice Cooper albums from Pretties For You through to From The Inside were re-issued in Japan on 'Super High Material' (SHM) CD format. SHM CD's are, apparently, made of improved material, that provides a clearer medium for the reading of the data and so reduces read errors and thus can improve sound quality.

 

A notable feature of all the SHM releases is that they closely replicate the original packaging of the vinyl releases. In the case of Killer, this includes the deluxe gatefold sleeve complete with detachable 1972 calendar. An additional black-and-white bilingual lyric booklet and external 'Obi Strip' are also provided (both of which are common features of Japanese music releases). 

 

What would have been really cool though is if they had made the CDs look more like miniature vinyl discs. What is offered is still more than satisfactory though and the SHM releases are definitely the quintessential Alice Cooper CD editions of all the available variants out there.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

NOTE: Further CD copies of this album are featured in the Compilations and The Studio Albums 1969-1983 sections of this website.

Under My Wheels 7" Promotional Vinyl Single

1971, Warner Brothers, 7529

This USA 7" promotional vinyl single features white Warner Brothers labels and includes Under My Wheels on Side A and Desperado on Side B (both from the Killer album).  

 

Each label includes an 'Intro' time, which helped DJs to understand how long they had to introduce a song prior to the lyrics beginning.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Under My Wheels 7" Vinyl Single

1971, Warner Brothers, 7529

This USA 7" vinyl single features green Warner Brothers labels and includes Under My Wheels on Side A and Desperado on Side B (both from the Killer album).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Under My Wheels 7" Vinyl Single

1971, Warner Brothers, WB 16127

This German 7" vinyl single features green Warner Brothers labels, comes in a paper sleeve, and includes Under My Wheels on Side A and Desperado on Side B (both from the Killer album).  

 

The sleeve has the same classic image of the Alice Cooper Group on both the front and back.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Under My Wheels 7" Vinyl Single

1971, Warner Brothers, WB 16127

This French 7" vinyl single features green Warner Brothers labels, comes in a paper sleeve, and includes Under My Wheels on Side A and Desperado on Side B (both from the Killer album).  

 

The sleeve has the same image of the Alice Cooper Group (complete with Neal holding a snake aloft) on both the front and back.

 

An alternative version of this release is available, which is almost exactly the same as this one only that there is no text on the back of the sleeve (at the bottom) and only faint Warner Brothers logos present.

 

It should be noted that most / all copies of this single originally came with a detachable paper index tab on the rear of the sleeve (see image below). Often found folded into the sleeve for protection when not used, these provided basic details of the release and were presumably there to help DJs easily locate them amongst other records. It's my understanding that this is the only Alice Cooper Group single to include this feature (although I also have some early solo Spanish 7" records with them). 

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Under My Wheels 7" Vinyl Single

1971, Warner Brothers, P-1097W

This Japanese 7" vinyl single features green Warner Brothers labels, comes in a Warner Brothers paper sleeve complete with colour insert, and includes Under My Wheels on Side A and Desperado on Side B (both from the Killer album).  

 

The insert features the same image as used on the inside of the Killer album sleeve but with additional flamboyant Japanese hype text and track listings, lyrics and credits on the back.

 

A promotional copy of this release also exists, which is identical except that it features blue vinyl labels instead.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Be My Lover 7" Promotional Vinyl Single

1972, Warner Brothers, WB 7568

This USA 7" promotional vinyl single features white Warner Brothers labels, comes in a Warner Brothers paper sleeve, and includes Mono and Stereo versions of Be My Lover (from the Killer album) on Sides A and B respectively. This was a common feature of promotional singles at the time, as it enabled radio stations to play songs on both AM (Mono) and FM (Stereo) stations.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Be My Lover 7" Vinyl Single

1972, Warner Brothers, WB 7568

This USA 7" vinyl single features green Warner Brothers labels and includes Be My Lover on Side A and Yeah, Yeah, Yeah on Side B (both from the Killer album).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Be My Lover 7" Vinyl Single

1972, Warner Brothers, WB 16158

This German 7" vinyl single features green Warner Brothers labels, comes in a paper sleeve, and includes Be My Lover on Side A and Yeah, Yeah, Yeah on Side B (both from the Killer album).  

 

The sleeve has the same psychedelic motif image of the Alice on both the front and back.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Be My Lover 7" Vinyl Single

1972, Warner Brothers, 16154

This French 7" vinyl single features green Warner Brothers labels, comes in a paper sleeve, and includes Be My Lover on Side A and You Drive Me Nervous on Side B (both from the Killer album).  

 

The sleeve has the same image of the Alice Cooper Group (complete with Neal holding a snake aloft) on both the front and back.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Be My Lover 7" Vinyl Single

1972, Warner Brothers, N-63-15

This Portuguese 7" vinyl single features 'Palm Tree' Warner Brothers labels, comes in a paper sleeve, and includes Be My Lover on Side A and Yeah, Yeah, Yeah on Side B (both from the Killer album).  

 

The sleeve has a green-tone image of the Alice Cooper Group (from the Love It Death album cover) on the front and on the back are track listings and credits.

 

The presence of the Palm Tree labels on my copy is a bit of a mystery. This is because they were not generally introduced around the world until the No More Mr Nice Guy single was released in 1973. I can only surmise that this single was released slightly later in Portugal and, like No More Mr Nice Guy, was subject to versions with both designs (as the transition took effect). Either that or it may have been re-issued at a later date as the Alice Cooper Group hit the peak of their commercial success.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Halo Of Flies 7" Vinyl Single

1973, Warner Brothers, WB 16296

Halo Of Flies was subject to a release in Holland only after gaining a cult following through continual radio play. Released two years after Killer (and therefore also after the subsequent School's Out and Billion Dollar Babies albums) the cover text proudly boasts that the song was 'Number 8 in Radio Veronicas Top 100 of all time, 1973'.

 

This 7" vinyl single features 'Palm Tree' Warner Brothers labels, comes in a paper sleeve and includes Halo Of Flies on Side A and Under My Wheels on Side B (both from the Killer album). The fact they managed to shoe-horn the full 8:22 length album version of Halo Of Flies was some achievement and it must be one of the longest 7" tracks every pressed!   

 

The sleeve has the somewhat controversial image of Alice performing live on the front (which was also used on the 2005 Good To See You Again concert film release). The reason for the controversy is that Michael Bruce is, quite unforgivably, masked out of the original image by a hype graphic (see image below). Another live image of Alice is provided on the back together with promotional text for the Love It To Death, Killer, School's Out and Billion Dollar Babies albums.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

For the School's Out era Click Here.