The Mystical Beast (slight return)

A first here at the Architectural Dance Society: a guest columnist. Dana was the proprietor of the wonderful Mystical Beast site for several years, which was one of the first blogs to post mp3s regularly (the site’s still up, although the song links are dead), and we met on the old Loud Family mailing list back when that band was extant. He recently e-mailed me with the following observation:

Have you ever listened to “Reflected” (early Alice Cooper), “Elected” (mid Alice Cooper), and “Bell Boy” (mid Who) all in a row?

My reading: “Reflected” is a Who rip-off with some acid guitar and weird chord changes added. “Elected” is a revisitation of “Reflected” but sounds an awful lot like “Bell Boy” in terms of production, riffs, and overall feel. “Elected” came out in ’72 as a single and ’73 as an album track, “Bell Boy” in ’73.

I wonder who influenced who (since release date doesn’t necessarily indicate when the song/production was conceived). Weird. I don’t usually think of Townshend looking to Alice Cooper for inspiration.

I hadn’t been familiar with “Reflected” before this, but “Elected” obviously borrows its main verse melody. But that thing where the chords change over a static bass (as in the verses of “Bell Boy”) is a Who trademark – and so “Reflected” is indeed borrowing from the Who (in fact, given its slightly iffy production and raw feel, you could almost pass it off as a newly discovered Guided by Voices track – hell, even the weird chords would fit Pollard’s usual MO). And in “Elected” you have an arrangement that’s very similar in syncopation and feel, even in instrumentation (real horns vs. synth horns…oddly enough, since John Entwistle often overdubbed his own horn-playing on Who records), but rather than place those chords over a bass pedal tone, the bass first plays its own rather melodic line, and then goes to a rather grandly dramatic walking descent.

So my take is that Townshend didn’t really need to rip off Alice Cooper (or Bob Ezrin, who contributed largely to the arranging on Alice Cooper’s records of this era), since ol’ Vince Furnier had already been dipping heavily into the Townshend Songwriting Book of Tricks with these tracks.

It’s still unexpected to find Alice Cooper and the Who put together like that, though!

Alice Cooper “Reflected” (Pretties for You, 1968)
Alice Cooper “Elected” (Billion Dollar Babies, 1972)
The Who “Bell Boy” (Quadrophenia, 1973)

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Mystical Beast (slight return)

  1. Anonymous

    The “Bell Boy” link appears to be broken? Gosh even the drum work on “Reflected” sounds like Keith Moon. Cool find!

  2. 2fs

    Link fixed. Damn – I really need to pay more attention…

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