Back in the 1970s, if you suffered from alcoholism, there were no rehab centers to go to. You would be put in a mental institution. It was in this era, that Alice Cooper suffered from severe alcoholism. It almost killed him. “From The Inside” is the story of his experience while being institutionalized and of the people who were in there with him.
The title song of the album, tells the story of how Alice’s lifestyle landed him in the mental institution. The quiet room describes being put in padded room after violent episodes. A safe place of isolation, where you won’t hurt yourself, but one where being all alone, your thoughts can drive you even more mad.
Then there’s the cast of characters. A rich girl from California, who was institutionalized by her family after she, like Alice, succumb to alcoholism and drug abuse. Another is a sexual addict obsessed with one of the nurses. There’s a couple so in love they murdered their spouses together and a character so obsessed with his dog that nothing else in life matters. Finally, there’s the Vietnam vet suffering with PTSD and addicted to morphine and meth.
Mixed in with these songs of mayhem is a very slow and emotional song that became Alice’s biggest hit from the album. “How You Gonna See Me Now” finds Alice writing a letter to his wife, asking her if she even still wants to be with someone who’s been sent to a place like this, back in her life.
As it should, the album closes with the song “Inmates (We’re All Crazy)”, which tells of his being released, realizing that what put him in the mental institution is something that will always be a part of him and something he will have to deal with for the rest of his life, from the inside.
The album design itself was unique in that Alice’s stage face opens like doors to reveal the characters described in the songs, inside the mental institution. Inside there, is a small door that opens to reveal Alice curled up in a ball inside the quiet room. The back cover of the album has two doors that open revealing all of the inmates being discharged.
I have to think that of the albums Alice Cooper has released through the years, this one has to be the most personal to him.