The World We Live In

Music Review: Alice Cooper BRUTAL PLANET

by Ted Willi

Brutal Planet

Brutal Planet is a timeless prophetic statement by Alice Cooper -- once again asserting itself in the face of facts on the ground: the Connecticut school shooting, the Denver theater shooting, murder, mayhem, jihad, death, destruction, appearing across the planet.

Alice points out the root cause in the Title track: "It's such a brutal planet / It's such a living hell / It was a holy garden / That's right where Adam fell / It's where the bite was taken / It's where we chose to sin / It's where we first were naked / This is where our death begins".

The repercussions of sin have gotten so intertwined, it's impossible to determine who drew first blood, so the onslaught of revenge, resentment and hate plays out in unlimited fashion. Every murderer is self-assured that his cause is just, that his victims deserve their punishment. Such a person is the character of the song "Wicked Young Man" who reads "Mein Kampf daily just to keep [his] hatred fed". "Blow Me a Kiss" is about people being targeted just because they're different. "Eat Some More" concerns gluttony -- our problem in the West is not starvation. "Pick Up the Bones" evokes the tragic reality of a Bosnian slaughter. "Pessi-Mystic" shows that even a mystic on this Brutal Planet gets pessimistic after awhile, to the point that "watching CNN...scares me to death". "Gimme" is the Satanic overture -- to grant a person's desires for the price of their soul. Some humor comes through on "It's the Little Things"; "Take it Like a Woman" is a sympathetic ballad; and "Cold Machines" is who we are becoming.

A powerful album -- Heavy Metal -- with a subject matter that matters. This and Ozzy Osborne's "Black Rain" describe the brutal planet we live on.

Although Alice has described the evil, he cannot provide a cure. Can he create light to obliterate the darkness? That would require a doctor of the soul: Freud, Nietzsche, Jesus -- for these, too, it would be a challenge!

The crux of the matter is free will, which is a natural result of our forebears crawling out of the slime -- or is part of how God created us. And, of course, it's not always a matter of choice; many times we are overcome by violent forces of nature, such as typhoons and shark attacks. But within the arena of our personal choosing, there is plenty we can claim responsibility for (discounting that we live in an era when governments, advertisers and con men try to affect our behavior for their gain; such "mind control" or "power of suggestion" is pervasive in our 24/7 media-driven Internet-connected world).

Free will is a double-edged sword. Water is good to drink, but too much water drowns. A glass of wine with dinner is good for the heart, but too much alcohol becomes a destructive habit. The view from the mountain is breath-taking, but the fall is fatal. So everything in the universe has potential for good, evil, and a grey area in between.

What would we choose anyway?

Human kindness is pretty basic. We could choose that -- or raising a family, developing a talent, building an enterprise and creating jobs, volunteering time or money to help others, teaching, planting, making art, writing a philosophy of affirmation, forgiving, overcoming, making a new start.

Let's start with a new music selection, O.K.? Brutal Planet has gotten too heavy. Next on the turntable is Bob and Doug McKenzie's "Great White North", eh?

Alice Cooper Brutal Planet: EU re-issue Foreign Media Music, 2006. Originally released Polygram, 1999.

23-Jan-2013 -- ALSO on this theme, a Book Review: R.C. Zaehner OUR SAVAGE GOD.