As we well know, Alice Cooper is a massive fan of bands that popularised rock and roll on a mass scale. We’re talking about the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Cooper grew up in the perfect time to be captivated by the likes of the aforementioned bands, and their songs helped to inspire the young Vincent Furnier to dream of a rock career of his own.
When it comes to singer-songwriters, though, there looks to be one clear winner in Cooper’s mind. He holds a profound love for Laura Nyro and her 1968 album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. “That and her first album, you listen, and there’s not one mistake anywhere on it,” Cooper said. “And you sit there and go, ‘That’s songwriting.’”
Cooper then compared Nyro to one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time. He said: “The other one is maybe Burt Bacharach’s Greatest Hits. Every single song is perfect, absolutely perfect. You listen to that, and it’s like listening to the Beatles. There are only two people I can think of that write perfect songs. That’s the Beatles and Burt Bacharach.”
So while Cooper reserved his highest praise for Bacharach and the Fab Four, he still holds immense admiration for Nyro. He added, noting the “personal” quality of Nyro’s writing, “Laura Nyro’s stuff was so personal, but it was so well written and so well sung. When I go to write with somebody, maybe I’ll go to their house, and all of a sudden I see a Laura Nyro album, and I don’t care how heavy metal the guy is, they go, ‘Yeah, oh yeah’.”
‘The Godfather of Shock Rock’ went on to explain in another feature with Rolling Stone that Nyro’s songs were taken on in cover versions by other musicians. “She was from the East Village, you know, back with Carole King and that in her era,” he said. “But Laura Nyro had so many hits that other people did, from ‘The Fifth Dimension’ to ‘Blood Sweat and Tears’, ‘Three Dog Night’. Everybody did her songs.”
However, Nyro’s versions of her own songs, for Cooper, were far better than those that made it as “big hits”. He went on: “I thought her voice was amazing; the first time I heard it, it almost sounded like the soundtrack for Porgy and Bess. It had this New York street sound, and yet it had this soul to it that was – it wasn’t like a Detroit Motown soul – it was a whole different thing.”
While that soul was a prominent feature of Nyro’s sound, another thing that stood out for Cooper in Nyro was her lyrics. “She was another lyricist that just – I mean, you really have to listen to her lyrics when you’re listening to here as she really went all over the place venting all kinds of scenarios in her lyrics,” he said. “And you really have to dig deep.”
When Cooper mentions Laura Nyro to other singer-songwriters in the music industry, they immediately understand why he loves her so much. “She’s another musician who, when you talk to songwriters, people that I’ve worked with who are songwriters, who are the best in the business, and you say ‘Laura Nyro’, they go ‘Oh yeah, that’s another level,’” he said. “You hear it once, and you just go, ‘Oh my gosh, what a great song’.”