Pretties For You Era

Background

Pretties For You is the 1st Alice Cooper Group studio album and was released in 1969. The Alice Cooper Group had already been in existence for about 5 years (previously masquerading as The Earwigs, The Spiders and The Nazz) but now, under manager Shep Gordon and producer Frank Zappa, they finally had the means to record and release their own albums.

 

Listening to the material here, it’s hard to conceive that the group playing on Pretties For You is the same one that became a global sensation a few years later. What we have here is a raw, experimental Alice Cooper, yet to truly find their identity or benefit from Bob Ezrin's subsequent influence as producer. It’s easy to see how the group was capable of dispersing audiences at live shows in 10 minutes as the music is a jumbled mess of psychedelic randomness, a real assault on your mind and body!

 

Allegedly, one review by Lester Bangs of Rolling Stone Magazine described Pretties For You as "a tragic waste of plastic". If true, this was more than a little unfair given the sheer creativity on offer and the blatant disregard for the status quo at the time.

 

To the uneducated fan, Pretties For You will be a hard listen. This is because it is far removed from the sound of the Alice Cooper Group from Love It To Death onwards, being extremely raw and somewhat incoherent, plus the fact that it was recorded in just a matter of days. In fact, legend suggests that what ended up on the album was actually what the group thought was intended to be practice sessions! If you stick with it though, this album really grows on you and will likely become a firm favourite to the truly unique and historically important content.

 

Opening track Titanic Overture is a haunting 70-second orchestral piece that sounds like a creepy fairground ride. However, and as the title suggests, it's actually what the Alice Cooper Group imagined the organist on the ill-fated liner might play as she sank to the bottom of the Atlantic and the sound slowly fades away!

 

10 Minutes Before The Worm commences with crazy bird noises before transcending into mind blowing psychedelia, which in turn lead to a more conventional song that is interesting and bizarre in equal measure. Again, very short at just 90 seconds long, the song addresses the long-standing question 'how early does the early bird need to be to catch the worm?'.

 

Sing Low, Sweet Cheerio is the first 'proper' song on the album which, whilst somewhat uncoordinated, demonstrates both the emerging vocal ability of Alice and playing prowess of Dennis, Glen, Mike and Neal (it's worth noting, however, that Neal take lead vocals for parts of the song). This track also features a very capable performance by Alice on the harmonica.

 

Today Mueller is another short and somewhat bizarre track featuring a piano backing and crazy lyrics. In particular, you have to snigger at the lyrics “Red Rover, Red Rover pass under, pass over, pass through... and over and over the white cliffs of Dover with you”!

 

Things really change gear with the melodic, high tempo, Living. This is probably the best track on the album and a special mention has to go to Neal's full-blooded drum work. 

 

Fields Of Regret is another extremely raw track, but with some of the best arrangements and lyrics on the album. This would have really benefited from some improved production but is still a highlight and an intriguing window into the future path of the Alice Cooper Group (the song is understood to have inspired the dark Alice character).

 

After the slightly more conventional nature of the previous two tracks, No Longer Umpire is another short and bizarre number. Again, Neal's drum work is particularly notable (I think he must have beaten his set to death!). 

 

The rarity that is a live track in the middle of a studio album, the haunting Levity Ball is extremely raw and somewhat uneasy on the ear but is an excellent example of the experience that the Alice Cooper Group exposed audiences to in their early days.

 

After Levity Ball, B.B. On Mars seems veritably weak by comparison. However, mid-way through it changes tempo entirely and descends into crashing drum work and grating guitar riffs.

 

Reflected is the most important and intriguing song on the album due to (a) it being the Group’s first ever single and (b) its subsequent reworking into the classic Elected on the Billion Dollar Babies album. The name aside, the influence on Elected can easily be heard in the melody and some of the lyrics. Unknown to many is that Reflected is itself a re-working of another song by The Nazz. Its name? You Will Be Elected!       

 

After a serene opening, Apple Bush again gradually descends into a chaotic series of musical arrangements. The lyrics on this one are particularly odd, but I understand that the song is about the apple in the Garden Of Eden!

 

Earwigs To Eternity is a great quick-fire track, which pays tribute to the change in name from The Earwigs to Alice Cooper. It almost seems like a coronation moment! It’s another crazy sounding track, but I get it!

 

Changing Arranging closes the album with more bedlam, more noise, more madness. When you get to the end, I guarantee you, your surroundings will never seem quite so tranquil!

 

In keeping with the oddity of the music, the album's front cover is derived from artwork by Edward Beardsley (understood to be titled Strawberry Cake), of a girl showing her panties at a funeral, that was hanging on Frank Zappa’s house (see image below)!

Pretties For You Album Cover
The original 'Pretties For You' painting at Frank Zappa's house (image from worleygig.com)

Pretties For You 12" Promotional Vinyl Album

1969, Straight Records, STS 1051

This USA 12" 1st pressing promotional vinyl album comes in a gatefold sleeve and features the iconic Ed Beardsley artwork (see above) on the front. Inside are individual images of the Alice Cooper Group members, track listings and credits. Interestingly, Vince Furnier is named 'Alice Cooper: vocals and harmonica' whereas the vinyl labels state 'All selections written and produced by Alice Cooper' (an early hint of the way things would go). On the rear of the sleeve is a colour image (by Ed Caraeff) of the Alice Cooper Group in full glam regalia standing in front of some futuristic art pieces at a Californian gallery.

 

As this is a promotional copy, it includes a 'PROMOTION - Not For Sale' sticker on the front and white 1st generation Straight vinyl labels that feature the additional text 'Promo Not For Sale' on either side.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You 12" Vinyl Album

1969, Straight Records, STS 1051

This USA 1st pressing of Pretties For You is the same as the promotional copy (above) only that it features orange 1st generation Straight vinyl labels and no promotional sticker on the front of the sleeve. This is the only time the 1st generation Straight labels were used on an Alice Cooper album release, as they were discontinued soon after.

 

Several pressings of this album were censored, with a sticker placed over the woman's underwear. This copy did not suffer such a fate with no sticker, or sticky residue (if removed), like you will find on some copies.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You 12" Vinyl Album

1969, Straight Records, STS 1051 and WS 1840

This USA 3rd pressing of Pretties For You is identical to the above version but features 2nd generation Straight vinyl labels. It is notable for having the original pressing code on the sleeve (i.e. STS 1051) and the Warner Brothers code, used for future releases, on the vinyl labels (i.e. WS 1840).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You 12" Vinyl Album

1969, Straight Records, STS 1051

This UK 1st pressing of Pretties For You features a slightly different sleeve to the USA version (above), with an alternative Straight logo on the front and back (complete with embedded product code) and the credits on the inside shortened slightly and set against a solid blue box (presumably, to make them easier to read). Also, the rear of the sleeve has some additional playing guidance from the manufacturer added at the bottom and set against a black box.

 

The disc again features slightly different 2nd generation Straight vinyl labels, which this time state the Straight product code (i.e. STS 1051).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You 12" Vinyl Album

1970, Straight Records, 1C054-090 929

This German 1st pressing of Pretties For You features an almost identical sleeve to the UK version (above) only with different presentation of the alternative Straight logo on the front and back (with product code now separated elsewhere). Also, the additional playing guidance text on the back is now in German. 

 

It also features the unique-to-Germany pink, white and black 2nd generation Straight vinyl labels, which only appeared on one other Alice Cooper album, Love It To Death (Easy Action did not see such a release for some reason).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You 12" Vinyl Album

1970, Warner Brothers, WBC 1196

This South African 1st pressing of Pretties For You features a slightly different sleeve to the USA version (above), with black Straight and Warner Brothers logos on the front and green Warner Brothers labels on the disc. This makes for an interesting hybrid release.

 

Additionally, the credits on the inside have been shortened by the crude use of a black lines to remove the original reference to 'Bizarre Music Co'.

 

My understanding is that all the front covers of this pressing were uncensored (i.e. there was no sticker placed over the woman's underwear). 

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You 12" Vinyl Album

1971, Warner Brothers, WS 1840

This USA vinyl re-issue of Pretties For You is identical to the original pressings (above) only that the disc features green Warner Brothers labels. This makes for an interesting hybrid release, as the sleeve still promotes it as a Straight release under the product code STS 1051.

 

My understanding is that all the front covers of this pressing were subject to censorship, with a sticker placed over the woman's underwear. My copy does not have this sticker, although there are faint signs of residue present where it is likely to have been found. An example image of a censored copy is provided below.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You 12" Vinyl Album

2009, Rhino Records, WS 1840

Picking up a decent condition vinyl copy of Pretties For You, at a good price, is not easy. Thankfully, Rhino Records re-issued the album in the USA on chunky 180 gram vinyl in 2009. Similar versions were also produced for the Easy Action and Love It To Death albums.

 

This is a rather basic reproduction, with a simple card sleeve in place of the original gatefold design. Additionally, the vinyl labels feature the latter 'Palm Tree' Warner Brothers design. Nevertheless, this, or one of the subsequent re-issues (below), are definitely worth obtaining to use as a playable copy of this iconic album.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You 12" Vinyl Album

2009, Rhino Records, WS 1840

This 'Collectors Limited Edition' USA vinyl re-issue of Pretties For You is the same as the above version only that it features a hype sticker on the front and a translucent red disc. Similar versions were also produced for the Easy Action and Love It To Death albums.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You 12" Vinyl Album

2017, Rhino Entertainment, RCV1 1840

This 140 gram USA vinyl re-issue of Pretties For You features a gatefold sleeve design that closely resembles the original release (above) and a partially translucent red disc. This version features olive green Warner Brothers labels and is understood to have been limited to 6,000 copies.

 

It was released as part of the 2017 'Rocktober' event along with re-issues of Love It To Death and Special Forces, all of which followed on from the 2016 Rocktober re-issue of Billion Dollar Babies.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

NOTE: Further vinyl copies of this album are featured in the Compilations section of this website.

Pretties For You 8-Track Album

1971, Warner Brothers, WAR M 81840

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 track order is different to the usual arrangement, with the majority of them appearing out-of-place. This was presumably due to the need to adequately fit everything into the four 'programs' on the cartridge. 

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

NOTE: A further 8-track copy of this album is featured in the Compilations section of this website.

Pretties For You Cassette Album

1989, Enigma Retro, 7 73362-4

This Canadian cassette of Pretties For You includes abridged artwork compared to the original vinyl version (above), track listings and credits. Inside is a clear tape with printed additional track listings.  

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You CD Album

1989, Rhino Records, 81227 99271

This European CD version of Pretties For You comes in a jewel case and features a basic fold-out booklet containing the artwork from the original vinyl release (above), track listings and credits.
 
Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You 'Mini LP' SHM CD Album

2011, Warner Brothers, WPCR-14299

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 Pretties For You, this is a fairly basic gatefold sleeve, so this is obviously reflected here. 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.

Reflected 7" Promotional Vinyl Single

1969, Straight Records, ST 101-A

I'm very lucky to have been gifted this fantastic USA promotional copy of the very first Alice Cooper Group single, Reflected, by hardcore Alice Cooper Group fan Chris Daniels. Chris has a marvellous collection of records (probably the finest in the UK) featuring many rare releases. Such is the strength of Chris' collection; he was generous enough to give me this copy when he learned that it was in my Top 5 list of Alice Cooper releases that I wanted to have. I am very lucky indeed to have a good friend like him and am forever grateful for his kindness in helping me achieve this major collection goal!

 

This vinyl just oozes history (about 50 years, to be precise) with the cult Reflected on Side A and Living on Side B (both from the Pretties For You Album). In keeping with the original album release (above), we are also treated to 1st generation Straight labels and 'Bizarre Music' copyright text (the only time they appeared on an Alice Cooper vinyl single).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Pretties For You Live In New York City DVD

2016

In November 2015 music artist Nick Didkovsky (and founder of the band Doctor Nerve) was offered a week long residency at the experimental and intimate New York music venue The Stone. This DVD captures one of these performances, which had huge relevance for Alice Cooper Group fans. 

 

As a massive fan of Pretties For You, and having never experienced live versions of the albums' songs (and let's face it, very few people did as they stopped playing this material in ~1970), he took the opportunity one night to perform the entire album from start to finish in front of a live audience (including some hardcore Alice Cooper Group fans from around the world). Also joining them, were very special guests Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith from the original Alice Cooper Group, both of whom provided expert advice during the preparation of the show. Cindy Dunaway Smith also produced an excellent Pretties For You inspired shirt, which Nick wore (and is pictured on the DVD).

 

The outcome is an outstanding live interpretation of the album which is a more-than-worthy substitute for the lack of anything similar from the Alice Cooper Group. Paul Bertolino (who performs with an Alice tribute band called My Stars) makes a great young Alice and after a while you begin to think that you are actually watching the original Group. To top off proceedings, Dennis even joins in for the Encore, which features the Pretties For You demo Nobody Likes Me, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah and You Drive Me Nervous (both from the Killer album).

 

Absolutely brilliant, let's have Easy Action as well please!

 

I have since managed to get the disc signed by Dennis Dunaway and Cindy Dunaway Smith (when they visited the UK in November 2017).

 

Discogs Link: N/A

Pretties For You Canvas Print

In honour of the original Edward Beardsley painting, which became the album cover of Pretties For You cover, I had my own canvas print made up. I couldn't resist recreating the famous picture of Frank Zappa with it! I also added a mock yellow censorship sticker over the woman's underwear in one of the pictures!

For the Easy Action era Click Here.