There we were, me and my buddies, Joe Deskin, Kerry Middleton and Brad Pitt (Yes, that Brad Pitt) — sitting cross-legged on our sleeping bags in my parents’ living room. It was spring 1975, and I had been allowed to have a going away sleep-over party prior to my family’s impending relocation from Springfield, Missouri to Orlando, Florida.
But my mom didn’t want a houseful of snot-nosed tweens running around all night. As a result, she allowed me to only invite my three BEST friends from Horace Mann Elementary — one of whom was Brad. We devoured hot, fresh slices of Shotgun Sam’s pizza while proclaiming classroom cuties and playing cards — our favorite local radio station, 1340 KICK, humming in the background. Woven into one particular chart-busting set that included “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Black Water” and “Killer Queen” was the epic power ballad, “Only Women Bleed” — the latest hit from shock rock pioneer, Alice Cooper.
As a wide-eyed naive Midwestern church boy raised on AM radio, I was well aware of Cooper’s string of early ‘70s Top 40 singles, including “I’m Eighteen,” “School’s Out,” “Elected,” “Billion Dollar Babies” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” However, those (now) iconic hits were by the Alice Cooper band. “Only Women Bleed” was by newly-minted solo artist, Alice Cooper. The song was the lead-off seven-incher from Cooper’s just-released solo debut, Welcome to My Nightmare.
Released 45 years ago this month (March 1975) via Atlantic Records, the 11-track collection was a masterpiece concept album that took listeners through the chilling nightmare of a boy named Steven — portrayed on the album by Cooper.
Overseen by (then) rising superstar producer, Bob Ezrin (KISS, Pink Floyd, Nine Inch Nails, Def Tones), Welcome to My Nightmare served up an intoxicating aural cocktail of mid-tempo creepers and rib-cracking anthems with a random splash of macabre-flavored cabaret.
Simply put, Alice Cooper was (and still is) cool. Dripping with his alluring mystique, the album was driven further by the sonic crunch of guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter. Mad props also are owed to veteran Detroit rock drummer, Johnny “Bee” Bandanjek, and famed ace session bassist, Tony Levin (King Crimson, Yes, Peter Gabriel), for their incredible contributions on the haunting, record-opening title track, as well as the high-octane record-closer, “Escape.”
Legendary horror film actor, Vincent Price, provided an eerie monologue in the song “Devil’s Food” — Please don’t touch the display, little boy. Oh, cute. However, Price played a more prominent role in Alice Cooper: The Nightmare — a late-night TV adaption of the album that aired on ABC in May ‘75.
For a 12-year-old kid in 1975, Welcome to My Nightmare was an irresistible “gateway drug” that fueled my future addiction to such other pop/rock combos as KISS, Starz and Angel. Of the album’s many noteworthy highlights, the orchestration on “Steven” still gets my heart racing, while the teen-targeted anthems “Department of Youth” and the cadaver-friendly “Cold Ethyl” still get my fists pumping every time. Truth be told, four decades later, the record still possesses the power to keep me up at night — a nocturnal vacation, to be sure.
Welcome to My Nightmare Track Listing:
1. Welcome to My Nightmare (5:19)
2. Devil’s Food (3:38)
3. The Black Widow (3:37)
4. Some Folks (4:19)
5. Only Women Bleed (5:49)
1. Department of Youth (3:18)
2. Cold Ethyl (2:51)
3. Years Ago (2:51)
4. Steven (5:52)
5. The Awakening (2:25)
6. Escape (3:20)
Run Time: 43:19
Release Date: March 11, 1975
Record Label: Atlantic