"The man once known as Vincent Furnier was struggling during Flush The Fashion, but his alter ego was still snapping and snarling": Alice Cooper embraces new wave on Flush The Fashion

Recorded during Alice Cooper's "blackout" period, Flush The Fashion found The Coop exploring new sounds

Alice Cooper: Flush The Fashion cover art
(Image: © Warner Bros)

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Alice Cooper: Flush The Fashion

Alice Cooper: Flush The Fashion cover art

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Talk Talk
Clones (We're All)
Leather Boots
Aspirin Damage
Nuclear Infected
Grim Facts
Model Citizen
Dance Yourself to Death

Alice Cooper released Flush The FashionSpecial ForcesZipper Catches Skin, and DaDa between 1980 and 1983 – four albums recorded while he battled alcohol and drug problems. And the first may have been the unlikeliest of them all.  

Cooper loved reinventing himself, and for Flush The Fashion he underwent perhaps his most startling make-over when he became a new-wave hitmaker in a garbage bag jumpsuit. The album is very much of its time, but it's one of Coop’s most fun albums, a rollicking collection of herky-jerky skinny-tie robot rock, led by one of the era’s greatest weirdo hits, Clones (We’re all), and the playfully homoerotic anthem Prettiest Cop On The Block.

Produced by Roy Thomas Baker, the self-consciously electronic Clones... appeared to be aiming straight for the throat of the Gary Numan market. But when rock was called for (Grim FactsNuclear Infected), guitarist Davey Johnstone wasn't found lacking in swagger.

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Other albums released in April 1980

  • Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden
  • British Steel - Judas Priest 
  • Empty Glass - Pete Townshend
  • Hypnotised - The Undertones
  • Seventeen Seconds - The Cure
  • Heaven and Hell - Black Sabbath
  • Solo In Soho - Phil Lynott
  • Go to Heaven - Grateful Dead
  • Give 'Em Hell - Witchfynde
  • Growing Up in Public - Lou Reed
  • Los Angeles - X
  • Marauder - Magnun
  • Middle Man - Boz Scaggs
  • Sky 2 - Sky
  • Snakes and Ladders - Gerry Rafferty
  • Waters Edge - Sweet

What they said...

"As a result of a hooking up with Cars producer Roy Thomas Baker, the sound is glossier; Baker also replaced the gritty guitar riffs that served as the basis for past Cooper rock compositions with icy synthesizers. The best-known song ended up being the cover Clones (We're All), which was in turn covered by the Smashing Pumpkins for their 1995 box set The Aeroplane Flies High." (AllMusic)

"You can barely hear the snarl of yore through the forest of electronic vocal treatments in the Devo-lutionary Clones (We’re All) and Model Citizen, the latter the artist’s sniggering commentary on his own social status in Tinseltown. Also compare the dramatic clarity of Todd Rundgren’s production of Pain (on Roadie) with Baker’s Phil Spector-style stranglehold on Alice’s singing in the version presented here." (Rolling Stone)

"With song titles ripped from the National EnquirerFlush the Fashion contains a number of short, fast, punky new wave songs beginning with Talk Talk at barely two minutes long.  You will either love this tough nut of a guitar-driver, or you will be indifferent to it for being light on hooks and brittle in sound." (Mike Ladano)

What you said...

Gus Schultz: I played this album a lot when I bought it. I really enjoyed it and I’m not that big of an Alice Cooper fan. I find most of the songs on this album with the exception of Clones..., Leather Boots and Aspirin Damage really sounds like classic Alice Cooper. I think his next LP Special Forces sounded more new wave than this album. 

Having Roy Thomas Baker (The Cars, Queen) produce this album seem to suit it quite well. I think a lot better than David Foster on From The Inside. I believe he was having a relapse of his alcoholism plus an added cocaine addiction during this time period. I went to see him in concert shortly after this album was released, but he was a no-show and a riot took place complete with riot cops and horses and a stage full of destroyed equipment. But I think this is a good album and one I will play every now and again.

Donald Davis: I thought Clones (We’re All) was a great single that still holds up (Smashing Pumpkins did a decent cover in the 1990s), but the rest of the album is fair at best.

Mike Canoe: I was too young for Alice Cooper (the band) when they had their heyday and overseas when he crested as a solo artist so my first exposure to him was as a pre-teen watching a performance of him doing Clones (We're All) on some syndicated music show. So this became my Alice Cooper and I was surprised when Clones... wasn't on Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits (released six years before that song came out - I was so young, so much to learn!)

Many years later, I got the boxed set The Life And Crimes of Alice Cooper and found myself gravitating towards disc three aka the "life and career in freefall" years. For as messed up as he was at the time, Cooper still sounded coherent, even confident, on record.

Flush The Fashion has everything I like about Alice Cooper with an overhaul not as radical as it must have seemed at the time. I think that has a lot to do with the "punk" cover art and the installation of Cars producer Roy Thomas Baker. The songs are still generally sharp and punchy and guitar solos are still welcome. The two covers, Clones... and Talk Talk still sound very much like Alice Cooper songs.

Alice is still a great performer, still playing both the perpetual put upon teenager and the deceptively intelligent court jester with lyrics that are worth paying attention to.

Examples include:

"Dad's wearin' real tight Levis and some Gucci Tennis shoes / He's got a T-shirt custom made for him saying 'Give me pot not booze.'" (Embarrassing parents' anthem Dance Yourself to Death)

"I balance my Excedrin and Anacin in stacks / I'm a pain reliever junkie. I got a Bayer on my back." (Upbeat addiction ditty Aspirin Damage)

"When I'm happy I glow yellow, when I'm sad I glow blue, yeah / And I glow red hot when I'm in bed with you." (Learning to live with and love radioactivity in Nuclear Infected)

Some of the lyrics to Grim Facts and Model Citizen haven't aged as well but the satirical arrow still hits the target.

Then there's Pain, a strong contender for strangest power ballad ever. Cooper sings as the personification of pain, both physical and emotional, with lines like "I was the filthiest word at the vandalized grave."

While the man once known as Vincent Furnier was struggling during Flush The Fashion, his alter ego Alice Cooper was still snapping and snarling.

Tom DeMonte: I remembered it getting ripped back in the day, but listening to it now, jeeze, these were some good tunes for sure. His "blackout period" actually is a lot better than given credit for. If it's not what's expected from the artist it's amazing how people can pile on it with quick criticism. To me it's aged better than some of his 70s stuff. Definitely better than his mid 80s stuff.

Gerry Regan: I love this album, it’s zany and off the wall. Some great songs on there.

Greg Schwepe: Quick, short review for quick, short album, all 28 minutes and 28 seconds of Alice Cooper’s Flush The Fashion. In the annals of me checking album running time I don’t think I can recall ever seeing an album that short. But hey, if you can get your point across in that amount of time with 10 short, catchy songs, go for it! I still recall some quote from an artist or producer in some article about how CD technology allowed for greater length of any album as your hands weren’t tied like with the time limits of vinyl. The comment went something like “just because you can make an album longer than an hour, doesn’t mean you should.”

As with other artists with long careers and a huge catalogue, I had not yet listened to this album yet with the advent of the “now you have everything in the world” streaming service access. And as with a few other artist’s albums we’ve reviewed…dang, why did I not check this out earlier?! The quirky and robotic sounding Clones... was played on the radio when it was released, and that was one I liked way back then.

I always do my internet album research after I listen to each week’s album. And after hearing this, I had already mentally thought about writing a line about someone suggesting to Alice; “Hey, why don’t you check out these albums by this band called The Cars… and see if it rubs off on you.” And then I do my sleuthing and find that this was produced by Roy Thomas Baker, who produced… wait for it… The Cars.

But it’s not all new-wavey stuff (Aspirin Damage) here. Just as you think that, Alice comes ripping along with something a little punk sounding (Nuclear Infected, Model Citizen), then a little metal-infused Grim Facts.

All these songs have the wit, sense of humour, and sarcasm all provided with Alice’s sneering, snarling delivery. I can see his makeup encircled eyes squinting as he spits out the lyrics. Headlines finished off the album with the star wanting to be in the paper headlines, rather than try to steer clear of media coverage.

Short and sweet, Flush The Fashion is a great collection of Alice Cooper songs. This one got moved into my Alice rotation of go-to Cooper albums. 8 out of 10 for me on this one.

Tony Silvers: Not one duff track! Still a go-to album for me. Great music and hilarious lyrics too! One of his best.

Peter Thomas Webb: I bought Flush The Fashion on vinyl after the single, Clones (We're All), stomped all over AM radio in 1980. I was already an Alice Cooper fan, and despite his obvious shift to so-called new wave on this album, it fit with other music (Gary Numan, Joe Jackson, the Cars, etc.) I enjoyed at the time.

Listening again after maybe forty years, Flush The Fashion only really retains the new wave feel on the first few tracks. Clones... is as vibrant as ever, and the cover of the Music Machine's Talk Talk is a bristling nugget of an opener. The rest of the album feels phoned-in and too eager to sound trendy.

If Alice had committed fully to his new wave stance (a la David Bowie or Iggy Pop), Flush The Fashion might have worked better than it does. I read once that Alice was too booze or drug-addled to remember much about making the record. Whatever the cause, his lack of creative focus afflicts the forgettable results. My rating: 5/10

Paul Cropper: Love this album. It's so different to the Alice Cooper Group albums and his solo albums from the 70s. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker who had recently produced the Cars' first two albums; and you could tell. The singles from the album were the Gary Numan-esque Clones (We're All) and a cover of the Music Machine's garage band classic Talk Talk. The only bad thing about the album? The playing time is less than half an hour.

John Davidson: Wow. This is quite the headspin.

A post-punk new wave pop album sandwiched between the classic rock of Schools Out and the Hair Metal of Poison.

I vaguely recognise Clones... which remains the best song in the album but the rest was new to me. Pain sounds like a new wave mix of a Bruce Springsteen number. Talk Talk sounds like The Vapors. The rest just sounds generic new-wave guitar-led pop rock, although closer Headlines finishes what is little more than an EP (by modern standards) with something of a flourish.

As an album it's not bad and it knows better than to outstay its welcome, but if I'd heard it at the time I might have written it off as ersatz, bandwagon-jumping from an aging rocker. That seems harsh and ridiculous now given how we are (mostly) middle-aged but teenagers are savages and I was still only 17 when this came out.

Adam McCann: Great album, very underrated. More focus needs to be placed on Alice's work in this period

Pete Delgado: Great album! Underrated… I enjoy Alice’s venture into new sounds.

Adam Ranger: I was not a fan of the four early 80s albums – this one, Special Forces, Zipper Catches Skin and Dada – when they originally came out. Dada is undoubtedly the worst of those four to my ears

Flush The Fashion is the best of the four sub-par Alice albums that moved towards a new wave feel. So perhaps they were of their time. Only Pain Sounds like the Alice we all loved and knew. It's not a bad thing to want to change your musical direction of course, but I'm not sure it worked very well for Alice.

Many of the tracks here sound like second-rate Rocky Horror musical songs: Aspirin Damage, Leather Boots, Model Citizen. Clones... sounds like it wants to be Talking Heads. Talk Talk and Pain and Nuclear Infected are my favourite attacks.

It's not as bad as I remember, and certainly not as poor as Dada or Zipper... but it's not one I will listen to very often. I was quite pleased when he returned to the more bombastic Alice for the Constrictor album in 1986. Yes,  that was cheesy. But it felt right.

Paul Capener: Great album. A different feel, but this sits nicely with Zipper Catches Skin as a duo of eclectic rock albums.

Andy Herrin: Contains Alice's usual humour. I particularly like the line "I'm a friend of Sammy Davies...casually", and you know he probably wasn't lying. Clones... is fantastic, my least favorite is the opener Talk Talk. Just not immediate enough for me. Overall a 6 out of 10. It's pretty good, and worth it for some throwaway entertainment. Would it be on constant repeat? Probably not.

Craig Little All I'll state is that I consider Clones... the closest to a half-decent song on the album, and Alice didn't even write or co-write the song.

Richard Slee: This was a massive disappointment after From The Inside. Only Clones... is any good. The next two albums were no better, DaDa a slight return to form.

Final score: 6.05 (76 votes cast, total score 460)

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