The author of the book Alice Cooper, Steve Demorest, accurately calls this "the great undiscovered" Cooper album. Pretties for You is a difficult record, and Love It to Death is a classic, but this pre-Bob Ezrin album, created with help from Neil Young producer David Briggs, might be the perfect picture of an evolving Alice Cooper Group. "Mr. & Misdemeanor" has Cooper beginning to define his nasty trademark vocal style: "Here's new pretties for you/nobody likes me but we adore you." Cooper became known for writing two-and-a-half- to three-minute catchy tunes with negative themes, augmented by longer pieces toward the end of the recordings. With that in mind, this is almost pre-production for Love It to Death, although the band is more inventive here. "Shoe Salesman" could be Strawberry Alarm Clock, and this clone British pop/punk would've been a nice arena for AC to continue dabbling in, had Ezrin not transformed them into hard rockers. For those not convinced of Cooper's ability to sing after the beautiful adult contemporary songs he composed with Dick Wagner in the late '70s, Easy Action gives evidence that Cooper has more of a voice than he got credit for. "Still No Air" has a sci-fi slant, a slant they could've taken up when the members departed from Cooper and became the Billion Dollar Babies. "Below Your Means" is almost seven minutes of early Who-style musical investigation. There is that great West Coast Jefferson Airplane sound throughout, some hybrid of L.A./U.K. garage rock and psychedelia (this material would fit nicely on a soundtrack for American International Pictures). Side two opens with "Return of the Spiders," with upfront fuzz guitar. Dedicated to Gene Vincent, one wonders if this was influenced by David Bowie or if David Bowie influenced it? Both artists emerged around the same time, with Alice Cooper under Frank Zappa's wing, for better or for worse. Their androgynous personas both covered simultaneously in Rolling Stone magazine. "Laughing at Me" is very similar to Bowie's "Man Who Sold the World." There's the cryogenic "Refrigerator Heaven"; a very British pop "Beautiful Flyaway," which is listed as fifth on the album cover, but is actually the fourth track; and "Lay Down and Die, Goodbye," a seven-minute-and-30-second song which clearly sounds like it belongs on Zappa's record label. That this band could run the gamut from Zappa to Bowie, and perhaps inspired both, makes Easy Action a good study and entertaining record.
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Review by Joe Viglione