Night Music: Hellacopters, “I’m Eighteen”

I wish at the appropriate time (too late now) Miley Cyrus had covered this Alice Cooper song. It would have been more rebellious than hiring writers and producers to guide her into the music of the street. (I like a bunch of the songs on her new album, but they are in no way adventurous or limit pushing. This is middle of the road rebellion, at its best.)

Today, in the giant park that is a block away from my house, the Secret Service shut everything down so that a helicopter and supporting choppers could drop off the President, who had some fundraising events and plans to visit a school in the area. I happened to be out on the street when the swarm of helicopters took off for points no doubt secure, the president left behind and ensconced in a pod in the back of an Escalade running at high speed into the heart of Crown Heights, where both the Jamaicans and the Orthodox Jews practice jaywalking promiscuously, if not always quickly. Lots of room for catastrophe there. No doubt John Carpenter is writing the screenplay now.

Which put me in mind of the Swedish hard rock band the Hellacopters, who my friend Steve introduced me to many years ago, sparing no laudatory adjectives. And they are a really good band, one I would gladly stand in front of and drink a beer or three while their sound blew my hair straight out behind me, like I was moving fast or in an ad for Marshall stacks. But when I put the records on get a little lost. The sound is energetic and rockish, but their original songs don’t always cohere. They sound great in spurts, but the overall effect is disorganized, and after a few songs I tend to switch away.

But their covers are different. They are pretty faithful and the playing suddenly becomes effectively disciplined, and they rock. I’m not sure this version of I’m Eighteen is better than Alice Cooper’s version, but this version is damned fine, and it was recorded in 2005, when the accolades that accrued to Alice were wispy ghosts. This is rock played in order to rock, and it sounds like it.

5 thoughts on “Night Music: Hellacopters, “I’m Eighteen”

  1. Rock. . .Ish?!?!?!? Are you for real? Coherence comes with repeated listenings, my friend. I would suggest divesting your time from (the 12-year-old world of) Miley and Lorde and investing it in some pure rock ‘n’ roll. You would thank me if you would do it. But you won’t.

  2. Okay, definitional thing. Rock-ish didn’t mean sort of rocking. It meant favoring rock. Or maybe more plainly, rocking. Hellacopters are all over that. It was meant to be complimentary, wholly.

    I’ve listened. Maybe if I listened more I’d absorb the midlevel notes. It could happen. I really like the band.

    Now I have two projects: I want to confirm that Roxy Music is as great as Gene says. And I want to confirm that Hellacopters are as great as Steve says.

    I hope I’ve already shown that Lawr fave Counting Crows is not upper echelon.

  3. Okay, definitional thing. Rock-ish didn’t mean sort of rocking. It meant favoring rock. Or maybe more plainly, rocking. Hellacopters are all over that. It was meant to be complimentary, wholly.

    I’ve listened. Maybe if I listened more I’d absorb the midlevel notes. It could happen. I really like the band. And I promise to listen more to the originals, but so far I really have lost interest. Not that they don’t kick, or they don’t have attitude, but so far it hasn’t consistently lined up with mine (as it did with that drum set made out of ice).

  4. Which albums have you listened to from start to finish? I’m trying to help. To be honest, the ones that sounded a little jumbled to me to begin with are now the best. And I think all their albums are cohesive. They give me that great old feeling where I anticipate the beginning notes of the next song after the last song has ended. I will admit, they take a little while to sink in to the fullest, some more than others. You forced me to listen to “Payin’ The Dues” this morning. I was not disappointed. Truly, I don’t think that pippity-poppity little girl nonsense you’ve been paying too much attention to lately has done you any good. Can’t wait to talk in-person next week.

    • I totally agree about talking in person in a scant few days (I will be at the game in Scottsdale on Wednesday FWIW), and I’m certain I haven’t given the Hellacopters the full listen that you have, and I think that’s a fantastic topic. I promise to listen to nothing but Hellas on my flight out to Phoenix. And drink nothing but Slivovitz (oh, my flight is at 5:30am). I guess Carlberg Elephants are a better choice.

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