Billion-dollar babies meet insomniac rust in the opening round of our latest battle for induction into the Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame.

Alice Cooper and Neil Young both launched their solo careers in the late '60s, with Young's self-titled debut effort arriving in November 1968 and Cooper's 'Pretties for You' following in June 1969. Aside from that accident of timing, however, these artists don't have much in common; where Cooper and his band traded on so-called "shock rock" to help establish their image, Young mostly eschewed flash, favoring a more basic, stripped-down sound.

And while Young achieved mainstream commercial success first, breaking the Top 40 with 1969's 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' before hitting No. 5 with 'After the Gold Rush' the following year and topping the Billboard album chart with 'Harvest' in 1972, Cooper forged his own platinum run during the '70s, starting with 1971's 'Love It to Death' and continuing through 1976's 'Alice Cooper Goes to Hell.' In between, he peaked in the Top 10 or higher with 'School's Out,' 'Billion Dollar Babies,' 'Muscle of Love' and 'Welcome to My Nightmare.'

Both Cooper and Young endured a bumpy stretch in the '80s. Although Young's releases routinely peaked around or above the Top 40 mark, he suffered a period of sales decline, and even found himself sued by Geffen Records for turning in a series of of hard-to-promote albums that didn't sound like the version of Neil Young the label signed up for. Cooper, meanwhile, failed to chart in the States with either 1982's 'Zipper Catches Skin' or 1983's 'DaDa,' and the albums immediately before and after didn't fare much better.

But by the end of the decade, both artists were back on top -- Young with a triumphant run of records that started with 1988's 'This Note's for You' and really got going with 1989's 'Freedom,' and Cooper with the comeback efforts 'Trash' (1989) and 'Hey Stoopid' (1991). These days, they're both firmly entrenched on the list of rock legends, and they both continue to tour and record, but only one will make it through the opening round of voting for the Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame.

Who's going to win? You decide in this 100 percent reader-voted competition, and you can cast your vote once every hour between now and 11:59 PM on Monday, Feb. 16. The winner for the month will be announced Tuesday, March 3. Be sure to read our official rules.



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