From The Rockbrat Archives: BILLION DOLLAR BABIES – BATTLE AXE (Polydor)

BAThis group of musicians were essentially the core of the Alice Cooper band and with the Coop, cut some of his most memorable recordings. Their last album with him was 1973’s ‘Muscle Of Love’ before Alice and the band parted company – let’s be blunt in saying that once they left, Alice lost that musical spark and it took him years to gain some of that magic back (I am meaning musical impact – not theatrical). Guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith joined forces with talented lead guitarist Mike Marconi and keyboardist Bob Dolin to form this powerful line-up. Released way back in 1977 ‘Battle Axe’ contains some of the catchiest and most likeable rock songs that you are ever going to hear. Naturally enough the sound that the Billion Dollar Babies achieve is very reminiscent of classic early Alice and you can indeed envisage the Coop singing a number of the tracks off ‘Battle Axe’. The teenage torment of ‘Too Young’ is the first cab off the rank and with it’s well written lyrics and hot guitars is a music lover’s delight. Close your eyes and ‘Shine Your Love’ could be a Coop led number. This song is a monster with a chorus bigger than King Kong – a potential smash which still sounds hotter than hell today and boldly gets stamped as one of the lost treasures of all time. Michael Bruce has a strong rock voice and really displays his powers on ‘I Miss You’, which also contains fiery guitar work from Marconi. The tempo slows a little on the beautiful ballad ‘Wasn’t I The One’, a song which is far more poignant and more melodic compared to other shallow heart wrenchers from the same era. The pace picks up again on ‘Love Is Rather Blind’ and has a hard driving riff. The big power chords and sharp keyboards of ‘Rock n Roll Radio’ are yet another highlight. A damaging tune with some inspiring lyrics that could be the motto for Vicious Kitten: “screaming guitars make me lose control, I can’t stop listening to that rock n roll”- brilliant !! ‘Dance With Me’ and ‘Winner’ are both howlers, whilst ‘Sudden Death’ is a well constructed, doomy rock-opera type instrumental that showcases the talents of all members. Sadly this was to be the only album that the Billion Dollar Babies released. Dunaway and Smith went on to form the Flying Tigers, a short lived outfit from Connecticut. ‘Battle Axe’ is a solid, vibrant collection of metal edged rock songs and is out there waiting for you to discover. For more information on the Billion Dollar Babies and the inside story of the Alice Cooper Band, get yourself a copy of Michael Bruce’s new book – ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’.

Archive Source: Vicious Kitten Fanzine Issue 5 – 1997)

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