Review Summary: Stop playing with your muscle of love or it'll fall off.
Recognition and positive reception followed the release of Billion Dollar Babies
, in addition to high sales. At the same time, it made life more complicated for Alice Cooper, since it had an unenviable task in front of it. Not only there were expectations to repeat the commercial success of that album, but also to demonstrate further musical evolution. We can hardly imagine the pressure the band members might have felt while working on Muscle of Love
. And if we throw in the usual toxic impact of success and its mandatory trials and tribulations it would be difficult to expect anything else but disaster. However, the end result was not so dismal. So how does one need to view Muscle of Love
, which followed its platinum predecessor?
It is likely the band members understood the situation they ended up in. Maybe that is why the decision was made to take a break from furthering the band’s sound, and instead they released a collection of hard rock songs not tied together by any concepts (although Alice the man voiced that there were some conceptual ideas behind the LP). There is no theatricality present on some tracks and occupying most of School’s Out
. While such approach created a sense of watching some kind of macabre vaudeville, Muscle of Love
doesn’t give this vibe.
They also reduced another component, which is closely associated with the band’s sound – lyrical grotesqueness aimed to shock the most impressionable of the audience (who in turn missed Alice’s kind of gallows humor). On Billion Dollar Babies
there were topics of necrophilia, dental fear and sexual harassment. Here we have a tale of a prostitute telling off her pimp (Never Been Sold Before
), or a female robot (Woman Machine
), or a story of sexual awakening (title track). While there may be a challenge to some, it produces not shock but amusement in its practically puritanical restraint. So does it mean Muscle of Love
is a failure for the band?
The answer would a rather confident ‘no’, though it is difficult to call it an outright success too. Some may recall the band stroke the gold only after it switched to hard rock, which carried both shocking grotesque and theatricality. And this is exactly what the band demonstrate on the album, which unfortunately became the last one for Alice Cooper. Here it is more straightforward and polished kind of hard rock, having lost some of its distinctness. At least the album managed to preserve a place for Alice’s humor and the talent of narrator, demonstrating more tongue in cheek than before, and the band still had ways to exhibit their solid musical competence.
There is only one problem with the album – and it is varied variety of the material, like the opening duo of energetic Never Been Sold Before
and rather anemic Big Apple Dreamin’
. At first, it seems as if the band did not believe in their own compositions, recording out of contractual necessity. However, the situation changes for better on the second half, where Alice Cooper found the right tempo on Working Up a Sweat
and practically never let go after it. As the result we get the following: when compared to the band’s other hard rock albums Muscle of Love
is at a loss, but not serious. The album has some great tracks that would not let us to call the album a failure. It is more like the band wanted to take a pause, which might have been followed by another excellent LP (and it could have been Welcome to My Nightmare
). Instead Muscle of Love
turned out to be a dot, and after it started a whole different story.