On this day in music history: June 12, 1972 – …

On this day in music history: June 12, 1972 – “School’s Out”, the fifth album by Alice Cooper is released. Produced by Bob Ezrin, it is recorded at The Record Plant in New York City and the Alice Cooper Mansion in Greenwich, CT from February – April 1972. Having finally found their sound with the albums “Love It To Death” and “Killer”, Alice Cooper are at last ready for their close up. Their third release with producer Bob Ezrin, Alice Cooper’s manager moves them into a rented mansion, to live, rehearse and record in. The project evolves into a concept album about “lost youth after leaving school”. The title track “School’s Out” (#7 Pop) becomes the lynch pin for the album. Inspired in part by a line from a Bowery Boys movie, the song brilliantly captures the anticipation of watching the clock wind down to the end of the school year. The feeling is brilliantly projected in the sing-a-long chorus of “School’s out for Summer… School’s out forever…”. Then to drive the point home, the track ends with the sound of a school bell ringing, and creating the eerie and jarring effect of it slowing down and abruptly stopping, by grabbing the tape reels on the machine manipulating them by hand. Released as a single in late April of 1972, “School’s Out” is an instant classic, becoming Alice Cooper’s lone top ten pop hit. The single (issued in mono), differs noticeably from the stereo album mix, in that it does not feature the same school bell effect, ending on a fade rather than a dead stop like the stereo version. The concept is also incorporated into the album packaging. Including a calendar in the artwork of “Killer”, they decide on something even more elaborate for “School’s Out”. The band hire graphic artist Craig Braun, famous for helping create the iconic cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” (with a working zipper in front). The Alice Cooper LP features a cover shot of a vintage wooden school desk, with the band members having carved their names and initials into the desk top. The package is designed to open like a desk, revealing the record itself housed in a plastic inner sleeve, and wrapped in a pair of girl’s panties (made of paper and colored either pink, white, yellow or blue). It becomes instantly iconic, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Album Cover in 1973. The panties are discontinued after the initial pressing, when they’re found to be a fire hazard. The original desk, is on display at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.Originally released on CD in 1988, it is most recently remastered and reissued as an SHM-CD by Warner Japan in 2011. Out of print on vinyl for many years, it is reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2010, packaged in a standard gatefold sleeve. “School’s Out” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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