Tuesday, June 21, 2011

93 – The Last Temptation- Alice Cooper

This is where my criteria for what to include in my top 100 Christian albums could take a beating. But you know? My blog, my rules :)

Is there a rock music fan who doesn’t know who Alice Cooper is? Born Vincent Furnier, he took the stage name Alice Cooper and was one of the first musicians to marry theatricality to rock music. Groups like Kiss owe Alice Cooper a debt of gratitude.

Alice Cooper fell victim to the lifestyle of excess that many 70’s rock stars pursued. Alcoholism affected his career and his marriage, and almost took his life. In the process of kicking the alcohol habit, in the 80’s he embraced Christianity. The Last Temptation is rooted in that belief.

The concept album presents a morality tale featuring the character Steven, who is simply looking for a good time. He meets up with The Showman, who says that in order to see a good time at the theatre he must sell his soul to him. The Showman presents Steven with a picture of how his life will be if he doesn’t follow him, and what Steven can expect if he does.

Steven becomes aware that the Showman could very well be the devil himself, and struggles with the temptation to be part of the show. In the song “Stolen Prayer”, co-written with Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, Steven cries out:
You showed me your paradise
And your carnival of souls
But my heart keeps telling me
That ain't the place to go
Well, I'm not invincible
So I want you to leave
Well, I'm so convincible
But have I been deceived

I take your words and try them on
Yeah, it's a perfect fit, boy
You tell me one size fits us all
Yeah, like an old straightjacket
Well, tell me why I'm so afraid
All my words are spoken
In a stolen prayer
In the end he resists the Showman, who continues to tempt him, but now he has the power to resist:
What about truth
What about life
What about glory
What about Christ
What about peace
What about love
What about faith in God above
What about war
What about hell
What if I stumble
What if I fell
What about blood
What about greed
And all of these things you're offering me

Yeah, what about me, little me
You lose and I win
You couldn't suck me in
It's over, you have no power
You’re lost
And I'm found
And I'm Heaven bound
Go back to where you belong
To where you fell
Go to hell
---“Cleansed By Fire”
This album is fantastic. By presenting his faith in this way, Alice Cooper taps into universal themes such as the struggle between good and evil. The album can be seen as a Christian parable or merely good storytelling. If you have preconceived notions of Alice Cooper, you need to check this one out.


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