Cooper claims he has no idea what the album's about, but it often sounds like a conversation between the artist/entity Alice Cooper and the host personality Vincent Furnier. Take the song Former Lee Warmer; if you insert Vince into the role of narrator and Alice into Lee and consider Alice's world at that time (declining career, relapse into alcoholism) the song is near autobiography. And again, No Man's Land, Alice as a mall Santa or I Love America, Alice as a car salesman? These aren't favorable views of himself or where his career has taken him. Pass The Gun Around is probably the most naked, emotional, autobiographical song on any Alice album about his weird lonely world of touring and alcoholism. Other songs like Scarlet and Sheba and Fresh Blood are pure horror show Alice, but with subtext that could make them metaphors that line up with the aforementioned tracks.
Dada doesn't sound like a cry for help, though. The tone is set with track two, Enough's Enough. A defiant anthem about a young man standing up to his evil father in the wake of his mother's suspicious death. Scared, defeated, humiliated, broken, but defiant, on track after track. Even on the snarky I Love America, with it's redneck spoken word tangent, there's Alice aping the image of every parent's worst nightmare who'd been tamed to the point of appearing on The Muppet Show and even hosting The Grammys.
Musically, the album is a bit dated. The keyboards and compressed drumming is very '80's, but it doesn't hurt the playability of the album. In fact, I prefer Dada over the classic rock sound of some of the original Alice Cooper Band and definitely more than the overproduced Lace and Whiskey and Goes To Hell. The next time we see Alice is in '86 with Constrictor where the Devo/New Wave influence of the last three albums are replaced with a more focused metal approach and the beginning of a long line of great albums.
Dada is the weird middle child album that no one loved or understood, but probably had more to say about the relationship between Alice and Vince than any other album he's ever recorded. It's too bad he has no recollection of making the album, because I'd love to hear what was going on in his head when he was writing these songs.
Scarlet and Sheba
Pass The Gun Around