…and we got no principles! (Or even principals!)
As we continue on our educational theme, Alice Cooper announces that “School’s Out”!
From 1972, this is pure cheerful headbanging (slightly) avant la lettre. (Admit it, you’re headbanging now, aren’t you?)
As Pete observed, American acts’ approach to singing about school days tends to be more fun than the usually fairly tormented English approach, and this grand little slice of boneheaded rock was a top 10 hit in its day, and the start of Alice Cooper’s — already old pros, with the band on their fifth album — being taken seriously as hitmaking artists.
There is no bloodshed in “School’s Out,” of course, though there is a fervent wish, held by many a student who’s found him- or herself still sitting in class as the summer is ticking away:
School’s out for SUMMER!
School’s out forEVER!
School’s been blown to pieces!
This is not a song so much as a riff, built up from swingy, crunchy power chords that open it up and slam through the first verse, providing a snarling backup for Alice’s equally snarling vocal. That riff is even more memorable than the kiddie chorus that joins in to sing the old “No more pencils, no more books…” — a children’s rhyme that never sounded so sinister. (Creepy kiddie choruses are an old gimmick now, but this is one of the earliest examples of the phenomenon.)
Glenn Buxton provides that fantastic riff, and also some guitar fireworks that start with feedback at about 1:30, during the first time through the “No more pencils” rhyme, then come out to the foreground with some old school shredding that manages to suggest both school bells and sirens. Then we come to the song’s best remembered, and most amusing, verse:
Well, we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes!
Then we go through the kiddie rhyme a second time, with Alice falling back in the mix, singing in his higher range and with a slight fake English accent, tricks he frequently used in the early days when he wanted to suggest victimized Alice, as opposed to evil and aggressive Alice. With a smallish voice naturally, he relied on studio tricks to provide depth and variety, but the result was often, as on “School’s Out,” more than satisfactory.
And of course, this is also one of the rarest of rare birds in rock music: a song that tries to be funny, and is. I loved it when I was in grade school, and I’m still very fond of it now.
(And you can click here to see Alice singing this while being manhandled by dancing Muppets. The vocal Alice is lip-synching to here also demonstrates some of his vocal limitations, far more than the amped-up studio version — not that it did, or should have done, him any harm.)