Reason #498 Why The ’80’s Didn’t Suck: Flush The Fashion

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“We’re all clones…”

SUBJECT: Flush The Fashion by Alice Cooper

YEAR OF RELEASE: 1980

Flush The Fashion is all about brevity,only clocking in at around 30 minutes in length.  In  1979 venerable shock-rocker Alice Cooper enlisted the help of Cars/Queen/ Devo/The Stranglers/Bowie/Cheap Trick producer Roy Thomas Baker for his Flush The Fashion album. Baker had a tendency to polish his bands to such a high sheen that the end product often had an almost antiseptic quality. Slick, professional, of it’s time. Not to say that’s a bad thing. It worked for The Cars. And it worked for Cooper, but only this one time.

Cooper had been struggling to create a decent follow up to his first solo effort Welcome To My Nightmare since 1975. All the albums leading up to Flush The Fashion sounded like retreads of his past glories and he needed desperately to sound ‘hip’ again. Roy Thomas Baker was a VERY hot commodity around this time and Cooper was on the downward spiral, so why Baker decided to partner with Cooper is anyone’s guess. I’m really glad they did, though;  Flush The Fashion is one of Alice Cooper’s best releases and definitely his best since Nightmare, but it absolutely sounds like nothing that preceded it.

The longest song clocks in at 4:06 (‘Pain’), but most stay close to the 3 minute mark. It’s a ‘new wave’ album to be sure, but it is also definitely an Alice Cooper album. If the music is new wave, the lyrics are typical of his past discography. Song titles like ‘Leather Boots’, ‘Grim Facts’ and ‘Dance Yourself To Death’ are all within the geographical boundaries of Cooper Town. Choppy guitars and synthesizers rule while the albums sole hit ‘Clones (We’re All)’ would have fit nicely on a Gary Numan record. This song was even covered by faux-prog rockers the Smashing Pumpkins and remains one of Cooper’s best known dirge-ditties to this day. To Cooper’s and Baker’s credit, Flush The Fashion never sounds like an aging rock star jumping someones new wave train;  it sounds like an aging rock star who’s written a killer batch of pop songs.

I’ve always believed that the early Alice Cooper Group were one hell of a great garage band, and I think Vince Furnier’s late 70′s and 80′s exploits have done much to tarnish the reputation of this once fantastic and vital group (his severe alcoholism might have had something to do with it!).

This album, however, is his last great album. I could care less about anything he’s released post 1980. Too bad.

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