At the height of his hair-metal sound, Alice reached peak commercial recognition with the mega-hit Poison off of 1989’s Trash. But while that song is a rager that everyone knows, it’s just the beginning – tracks like Spark In The Dark, House Of Fire, Bed Of Nails, and Hell Is Living Without You are the kind of massive, fist-pumping metal tracks that remind you why the ’80s was worth all the cheesy bullshit. A genre-defining moment, the album remains a favorite of fans from all Cooper eras, and is a testament to how Alice’s shifting sound regularly strikes gold.
Trash = Studio album by Alice Cooper
Released: July 25, 1989
Genre: Hard rock, Heavy metal, Glam metal
Producer: Desmond Child
Check all samples: www.allmusic.com/album/trash-mw0000204877
Trash is the eighteenth studio album released by Alice Cooper in 1989.
The album featured “”Poison””, Cooper first top ten hit since his single “”You And Me”” in 1977. After Alice return to the music industry in 1986 with the successful tour “”The Nightmare Returns””, Cooper had sought assistance from Desmond Child to create a comeback album. Trash became one of Cooper biggest albums, accompanied by music videos for “”Poison””, “”Bed of Nails””, “”House of Fire””, and “”Only My Heart Talkin'””. A successful year-long worldwide concert tour in support of the album was documented in the home video release Alice Cooper Trashes The World. Additionally, much of the album conveys a sexual theme.
The album features many guest performances including Jon Bon Jovi, Stiv Bators, Steven Tyler, as well as singer/guitarist Kane Roberts, who left Cooper band in 1988. Songwriting contributions were also made by Joan Jett, Diane Warren, Jon Bon Jovi, and Richie Sambora.
Backing vocalist Louis “”Louie”” Merlino and drummer Bobby Chouinard later played together in Beggars & Thieves. Chouinard died in 1997.
“”Poison”” (Alice Cooper, Desmond Child, John McCurry) – 4:29
“”Spark in the Dark”” (Cooper, Child) – 3:52
“”House of Fire”” (Cooper, Child, Joan Jett) – 3:47
“”Why Trust You”” (Cooper, Child) – 3:12
“”Only My Heart Talkin'”” (Cooper, Bruce Roberts, Andy Goldmark) – 4:47
“”Bed of Nails”” (Cooper, Child, Kane Roberts, Diane Warren) – 4:20
“”This Maniac in Love with You”” (Cooper, Child, Bob Held, Tom Teeley) – 3:48
“”Trash”” (Cooper, Child, Mark Frazier, Jamie Sever,) – 4:01
“”Hell Is Living Without You”” (Cooper, Child, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora) – 4:11
“”I’m Your Gun”” (Cooper, Child, McCurry) – 3:47
Guitars: Kane Roberts on “”Bed of Nails””, Mark Frazier, Jack Johnson, Steve Lukather, Guy Mann-Dude, John McCurry, Joe Perry on “”House of Fire””, Richie Sambora
Keyboards: Paul Chiten, Steve Deutsch, Gregg Mangiafico, Allan St. John
Bass: Tom Hamilton on “”Trash””, Hugh McDonald
Drums, Percussion: Bobby Chouinard, Joey Kramer on “”Trash””
Programming: Steve Deutsch
Special Effects: Gregg Mangiafico
Additional Vocals: Michael Anthony, Stiv Bators, Jon Bon Jovi, Steven Tyler [Aerosmith]on “”Only My Heart Talkin'””, Desmond Child, Diana Grasselli, Jango, Hugh McDonald, Louis Merlino, Allan St. John, Jamie Sever, Bernie Shanahan, Tom Teeley, Joe Turano, Myriam Naomi Valle, Maria Vidal, Kip Winger, Kane Roberts
Year Chart Position
1989 The Billboard 200 20
1989 UK Albums Chart 2
1989 Australian Albums Chart 5
1989 Austrian Albums Chart 4
1989 Norwegian Albums Chart 4
1989 Swedish Albums Chart 6
1989 Swiss Albums Chart 10
1990 Hungarian Albums Chart 13
Year Single Chart/Position
Billboard Hot 100 Mainstream Rock Tracks
1989 “”Poison”” 7 17
“”Bed of Nails”” 20 24
1990 “”House of Fire”” 56 39
“”Only My Heart Talkin'”” 89 19
‘Poison’ is one of Alice Cooper most well-known songs, and provided his last major mainstream hit, in 1989. It was taken from his album ‘Trash’, which was produced by Desmond Child. The whole album sounded more commercial and radio-friendly than previous Cooper albums, which may account for its success. The single reached number 2 in the UK, number 7 in the USA and number 10 in the Dutch Top 40. The music video for ‘Poison’ was available in two versions. Model Rana Kennedy wore nothing but a black thong in the original video, so a more modest version was filmed in which Kennedy wears a corset to cover her upper body.
Alice Cooper spent most of the ’80s looking for a hit, but with his 18th studio LP, Trash, the groundbreaking shock rocker promised “less gore, more MOR.” He delivered, too, with a million-selling smash that resuscitated his recording career.
Released on July 25, 1989, Trash was fronted by “Poison,” Cooper’s first pop Top 10 hit in over a decade, and accompanied by a successful tour that found him barreling through American cities behind the wheel of a garbage truck. After years of putting out records that failed to chart in the States, he couldn’t hide his excitement over his change in fortune.
“Certain people ought to be aware by now of what Alice Cooper is and what he does. But there is a whole new audience out there,” he enthused in the months after the album hit. “There are kids who come up to me on the street who think Trash is my first album. But then I’ll be up onstage and there’ll be a 15-year-old who knows every word to ‘The Ballad of Dwight Fry.’ There are certain kids who totally disregard any of the heroes of the ’80s. And these kids are very aware of who Alice is – and it’s great.”
It proved a particularly sweet vindication for Alice Cooper, who’d recently walked away from MCA after a pair of disappointing LPs and set out to put together a big hit record for his new label, Epic – starting by hiring one of the hottest writers and producers in rock, Desmond Child. “I would get into my Corvette, turn on the radio and hear all these great songs by Bon Jovi and Aerosmith,” Cooper explained in 1989. “When I found out how many Desmond had been responsible for, I knew he was the man to get. … I compare this album to [1973’s] Billion Dollar Babies. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to recreating that style. The music is right up front, right in your face. But I think this an album for the ’90s. It’s a little more intelligent.”
The sessions found Cooper fronting a new band that included guitarists Al Pitrelli and Pete Freezin, keyboard player Derek Sherinian, bassist Tommy Caradonna and drummer Jonathan Mover – a lineup that, as he later pointed out, brought together a blend of fresh faces and highly recommended personnel.
“I called up Steve Vai and said, ‘I know you’re taken, so tell me who the next best is,'” Cooper said of his search for a new guitarist. “He said Al Pitrelli. So, as soon as I got him [David Lee] Roth calls up and says, ‘Did you take that guy?’ ‘Cause he wanted him, but I had him, ha!”
The rest of the group coalesced from far-flung origins, according to Cooper. Calling the Toronto-based Freezin a “young version” of his former guitarist Dennis Dunaway, he noted, “It’s scary how much he looks like that. He plays all the classic material like ‘Muscle of Love’ and songs we haven’t done onstage for years like ‘Gutter Cats vs. the Jets’ – all this early stuff, he plays it exact. And if I go off-course he goes: ‘No, no, it goes like this.’ Al, on the other hand, is much looser. He flies around the stage.”
Adding that he found Caradonna through Lita Ford, he admitted that he drew a blank when it came to his new keyboard player. “I don’t know where he’s from,” laughed Cooper. “With a name like Sherinian, he should be my dentist.”
The record also included a number of high-profile guest appearances, including vocal cameos from Jon Bon Jovi and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. “I wanted Jon to sing on ‘Trash,’ because none of the stuff he ever sings is as nasty as that,” Cooper laughed, referencing the track ‘Hell Is Living Without You,’ a co-write between Cooper, Child, Bon Jovi, and Richie Sambora. “I wanted him to sing on something that he wasn’t allowed to sing on his album.”
When it came time to find a supporting voice for the song “Only My Heart Talkin’,” Cooper said, “I think Steven Tyler has the best voice in rock and roll. During our heyday in the ’70s, we were always too drunk to work together. I finally called Steven and he loved the song, so we went to Boston, sat in the studio for about eight hours and had fun. I sang as high as I possible could, and he was up there, even higher. That’s one vocal I would not want to have to do again.”
All that firepower combined to bring Cooper back to the Top 40 while introducing his music to a new generation of listeners. “There’s nothing wrong with radio-ability,” he argued. “When I was at my biggest, I had records in the Top Ten. There’s nothing wrong with having a commercial record out, because commercial is as good as you make it. And what’s wrong with commercial anyway? Everybody’s trying to get on the radio. Besides, the new album doesn’t sound like Tiffany! It doesn’t sound like Bomb the Bass! It sounds like Alice Cooper; it’s my version of what commercial is.”
Of course, Alice Cooper had tried different spins on “his version” of commercial viability in the years between his ’70s hits and Trash, and few of them panned out. Prior to this surprising comeback, he hadn’t had a Top 40 album in the United States since 1976’s Alice Cooper Goes to Hell.
“A lot of those things backfired,” Cooper admitted during a 1987 interview with Creem. “Like me showing up on ‘Hollywood Squares’ was great. It was on purpose. The same woman who wouldn’t let her kid come to one of our shows was on there trying to win a car. And I was sitting there, thinking ‘This is great.’ But the audience didn’t get it. They thought I really wanted to do that. They thought I had been Alice Cooper to get to the position so I could be on ‘Hollywood Squares.’ The same with the golf thing. It ends up that every heavy metal guy I know plays golf now, from Motley Crue to Iron Maiden. But if I play golf, it’s a cardinal sin because I represent all that is not parents.”
Aside from television and golf, Cooper conceded that a growing dependence on ballads helped wreck his transgressive image. “I’m a hard rocker from Detroit. I’ll always be a hard rocker,” he said. “When the ballads came out, I can understand how people thought that was a sellout. But it was the only way I could keep my hand in the game during disco, because they wouldn’t play my records or Aerosmith or anyone in that genre of rock ‘n’ roll on the radio then. Anything with a guitar was out. So we did ballads, which was like a hand in poker. You had to keep your hand in the game, even if it was a losing one.”
With Trash, Cooper found a way to balance radio’s demands for softer stuff against his own artistic point of view. And rather than outright buying tracks from outside songwriters, he co-wrote every cut on the album, working with a list of talented tunesmiths that included Joan Jett, Bruce Roberts and Andy Goldmark, and hitmaker-for-hire Diane Warren. Even if, at 41, he seemed like an unlikely idol for the MTV generation, he was already making plans for future decades of musical domination.
“When I get too old to do this, 55 years old or so, I’m going to create a new Alice,” Cooper mused. “I want Alice to go on like the circus – for generations. Maybe there’ll be like 10 Alices.”
A DEEP DIVE INTO ALICE COOPER’S “POISON” VIDEO
The bit in Wayne’s World where Wayne and Garth bow and scream that they aren’t worthy wouldn’t have worked with just anyone. It had to be an icon, a legend, someone who wasn’t just famous in 1993 when the film came out, but whose image was timeless and eternal. It had to be Alice Cooper really, a man who should really be the picture on the Wikipedia page for ‘rock star’.
Alice, a theatrical, insanely charismatic performer who terrified audiences with his shocking antics while being known off-stage as a really solid dude, has had some hits in his day. School’s Out, Welcome To My Nightmare, I’m Eighteen… Poison, though, captures him at his leather-gloved-fist-clenching best. Let’s dive on in!
A door swings open and there he is. Look, it’s Alice Cooper! Alice bloody Cooper, rock legend and contender for the most beloved man in rock. Born in Detroit in 1948 as Vincent Furnier, he originally fronted Alice Cooper the band, before changing his name to that of the band to ensure ownership of it. His onstage persona went through a few iterations – at first it was all about androgyny, then more violent imagery came in, then big mad on-stage theatrics like guillotine executions.
Wow, Alice Cooper has beautiful eyes! No, hang on, that’s a lady…
The fun thing with blue screens is, you normally replace the blue with something else. Green screens are more popular than blue for the chroma key process due to blue clothes being more popular than green ones.
Smashing a topped cane against the ground like a fucking boss.
YEAH YOU CAUGHT IT. Good drumstick-catching there, the late Bobby Chouinard. Alice called Bobby one of the best musicians he’d ever worked with. The drummer sadly died in 1997, aged just 44.
Alice is 41 here. He pretty much looks the same today – looking old when quite young can work out well like that.
The word ‘look’ has like 12 micro-syllables here. Awesome stuff.
Okay, that’s his eyes this time. A little more weathered than the model’s ones.
That transition from ‘I wanna touch you but my senses tell me to stop / I wanna kiss you’ is an absolute killer if you sing this at karaoke and shout your fucking head off doing it – there’s no space for a breath. You’ve kind of got to try and inhale during the word ‘to’.
Alice does less freewheeling kissing than he’s singing about here – he has been happily married to Sheryl Goddard since 1976 (apart from a slight hiccup in 1983 when he was an alcoholic and she filed for divorce), and unlike a lot of his contemporaries, has remained strictly monogamous the whole time. When asked what the secret to a long successful marriage was, he has suggested regular date nights. He plays golf six times a week (and credits that for beating his alcoholism, replacing one addiction with another), so it’s not out of the question that, unless you also love golf, his dates are very, very boring.
The rest of the band is John McCurry, Hugh McDonald and Alan St. John. All guys with prefixed surnames. Interesting.
Bit of a Mad Max contraption there, fitting in with the whole sadomasochism vibe.
Where do you think he bought these chains? A chain store? There’s the beginnings of a joke there, because ‘chain store’ is an expression meaning a shop like Marks & Spencers or Tesco, where there are lots of them, and, oh you know what, let’s abandon it, it’s not going to work.
There were a few different versions of this video with different levels of risqueness. The model predominantly featured in this cut is Rana Kennedy, who is now a pilates instructor. While there are alternate versions of the video that feature toplessness, none of that is down to Rana – something she has had to take to the internet to correct people on. The internet doesn’t seem to know who the blonde-haired model seen earlier is, which seems a shame. Unless it’s also her, and there’s a wig involved, and you know what, that’s it, isn’t it?
Something, something, Alice In Chains, something something…
‘I wanna hurt you just to hear you screaming my name’ is both a great line and a bad sentiment. Where are the songs about having sensible, consent-filled conversations about what both parties want from a sexual encounter, eh? Don’t hurt anyone unless they want you to.
Poison being fairly literally depicted there, but holy shit, if you drink that wine you’re a dumbass. There’s a Berocca-sized fizzing chunk of awful in it!
This video had the absolute hell played out of it on MTV, and is one of the archetypal hair-metal, video-vixen clips. This video was directed by the cheerily-named Nigel Dick, who is probably best known for directing Britney Spears’ megahit Hit Me Baby One More Time, but also made Welcome To The Jungle, Sweet Child O’ Mine and Paradise City for Gun N’Roses, and has worked with Nickelback a staggering 16 times, plus that shit one Chad Kroeger did with Josey Scott. He also directed S Club’s feature film, Seeing Double, and performed as a backing musician on Top Of The Pops four times with different acts.
Bit weird, this part – she’s pulling a rope, and then he’s moving towards her, but it’s not like the rope is tied round him or anything. Maybe he’s just pretending to walk and is standing on a skateboard out of frame, and that’s what she’s pulling? No, that seems unlikely.
This nearly got to Number One in the UK, but was pipped to the top spot by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers with Swing The Mood.
Someone should sort that leak out. Bloody landlords.
Alice is now, of course, trussed up on a big torture rack. His manager, Shep Gordon, is an interesting character. Mike Myers, who met him and Alice while shooting Wayne’s World, made a great documentary about him, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, that has some awesome scenes of goofy publicity stunts he and Alice did. The outrageous persona and headline-grabbing antics made Alice a larger-than-life character, and it’s all really impressive from a marketing point of view, shocking people into buying millions of records.
The chair that smashes here 100 per cent isn’t the more ornate one seen in silhouette earlier. It looks like they used the fancy-schmancy one for the cool silhouette shots, then swapped in a shit-ass knackered one for the breaking it scene, and fair enough.
Alice Cooper is, of course, wearing a t-shirt with Alice Cooper on it.
What the FUCK! Wigs again!
The big-eyed ‘oh shit!’ face she does here is excellent. But hang on, wasn’t it her that did the poisoning in the first place?
And now here’s Alice with another, liquid-based poison. It’s fairly vague what’s actually going on here, but we’ve all had fun.
Well done, everyone. A big-ass banger about wanting to kiss a pretty lady but thinking you shouldn’t. Lovely stuff.