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School’s Out (Warner Bros., 1972)

School’s Out is the fifth studio album by American rock band Alice Cooper, released in 1972. Following on from the success of Killer, School’s Out reached #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and #1 on the Canadian RPM 100 Top Albums chart, holding the top position for four weeks. The single School’s Out reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, #3 on the Canadian RPM Top Singles Chart and went to #1 in the UK Singles Chart.

The title track is such an entrenched radio and graduation classic that it throws off balance everything put in its way. Yet in 1972, Alice Cooper was still technically a group and not the sole province of its lead singer Vincent Furnier, and the band’s collaborative spirit can be heard throughout. School’s Out became the group’s best-selling album to date, yet its title track aside, none of the other tunes were so immediately accessible. Instead, following in the success of Love It To Death and Killer, the group decided to stretch their creative reach to include an eclectic mix of Broadway, jazz and progressive rock orchestration. Less hard rock than its predecessors, its tunes remain among the most subtle and inventive in the band’s catalog. Gutter Cats Vs. the Jets and the instrumental Grande Finale have Broadway stars in their eyes, while My Stars is a piano-based epic that anticipates the Springsteen/ Meatloaf teen anthems of the future. Blue Turk aims for decadent nightclub jazz, while Alma Mater is a freaky, modernist tune with a cool, grainy lead vocal. Quite a variety of unexpected things going on here.

The original album cover (designed by Craig Braun) had the sleeve opening in the manner of a wooden school desk, similar to Thinks: School Stinks, by Hotlegs, released two years earlier. The vinyl record inside was wrapped in a pair of panties, though this was later discontinued as the paper panties were found to be flammable. The desk photographed for the album cover is on display in the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas.

Ian Chapman has put forward a theory that it was a concept album about youth lost when leaving school.