The second album I ever bought was ‘Love It To Death,’ by ALICE COOPER. The first ‘concert’ I really wanted to go to (but was grounded by my parents who feared the contamination of their son’s mind by some ‘freak’ who supposedly bit the head off chickens and snakes etc.) was at the Greens Playhouse in Glasgow on a November evening in 1972.
One of the best radio shows currently airs on Planet Rock and is hosted by … ALICE COOPER.
A part of me will always be an ALICE COOPER fan.
But I’m not so sure about this box set issue that is touted as a ‘career-spanning’ 4 xCD set. Yeah, I know the ‘career-spanning’ bit relates to the Alice Cooper GROUP, which disbanded in 1974 for Vincent Furnier to then take on the moniker for himself in 1975. True, certainly in my humble opinion, this ten-year span was the best musically for the band, and much of it is contained here. But what I’m not certain about is the amount of ‘demos’ and ‘pre-production’ and ‘rehearsal’ versions of the finished songs.
Sure, your ALICE COOPER ‘completist’ is going to go for this big time, but with one of the CDs taken up with a bootleg recording of the ‘Killer’ Live in St Louis set and another full of ‘interviews’ then who else is going to shell out for it? (And regrettably, neither of two of my favourite tracks from that time are included: ‘Black Juju,’ and ‘Gutter Cat Vs. The Jets.’)
That said, the ‘sampler’ that I was sent for review purposes confirms my early (and continuing) interest in the early days of the band. If we ignore the recoding session with the kids who provide the backing on ‘School’s Out’ (funny and cute as it is, how many times are you going to play this track?) then the music is still as exciting as it was forty-plus years ago; in fact, some of the ‘demos’ actually quite fresh and different.
The eight-minute ‘demo’ version of ‘Halo Of Flies,’ sounds just like a high-school band ( a very good one, mind) recording on their tape-recorder in someone’s garage; likewise the pre-production version of ‘I’m Eighteen,’ which sounds really ‘empty,’ if you know what I mean.
There’s a great extended version of ‘School’s Out,’ going under the ‘Mar Y Sol’ banner, which I think is a live recording from Puerto Rico – I don’t have access to sleeve notes to confirm this. The bass-line and guitar work is excellent!
‘No Price Tag,’ has a sort of Rolling Stones R&B feel about it and the ‘Working Up A Sweat,’ demo has the chugging innocence of a young, aspiring rock ‘n’ roll band.
So yes- play me the music, and I’d buy it. But just the music, please ….
(Regardless, ALICE COPPER is still the Man!)