This isn't the Killer album that Alice Cooper hoped it'd be, but give the ghoul credit for trying. At a time when his rock & roll stock is nearly bankrupt, Cooper has wisely scrapped the flatulent vaudeville trappings and tragicomic pretensions of his late-Seventies work and reassumed the punk mantle he wore when the original Alice band was cutting a General Sherman-like swath (with rapacious guitars and tortured chickens!) through hippie complacency.
On Flush the Fashion, the execution isn't nearly as good as the idea. Though the new LP includes some of Cooper's feistiest songs in years, Roy Thomas Baker's airtight, homogenized-New Wave production squeezes all the arrogance right out of them. You can barely hear the snarl of yore through the forest of electronic vocal treatments in the Devo-lutionary ''Clones (We're All)'' and ''Model Citizen,'' the latter the artist's sniggering commentary on his own social status in Tinseltown. Also compare the dramatic clarity of Todd Rundgren's production of ''Pain'' (on Roadie) with Baker's Phil Spector- style stranglehold on Alice's singing in the version presented here.
Cooper's group — which is mysteriously uncredited-takes up much of the slack with admirable raunch, plowing through a heavy-metal take of the Sixties garage-punk chestnut, ''Talk Talk,'' with the swashbuckling, fuzz-tone elan of the old band. But with spiritual sons like the Ramones and Gary Numan giving Alice Cooper a run for his millions,Flush the Fashion comes as too little too late. Better late than never, I suppose.