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Alice Cooper - Good To See You Again

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Sunday, January 15, 2006 @ 6:27 AM

Live 1973 Billion Dollar Babie

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From Shout! Factory. “You have to remember now, none of us are gay.”

It’s ironic that Cooper makes this statement at the beginning of the commentary portion of Good To See You Again, Alice Cooper, since for many, the work he produced with his original band is the only part of Vincent Furnier’s career that matters. This remains true for some although Alice’s latest record, Dirty Diamonds, is the best he’s recorded in ages. Besides the fact this version of the group possessed musicians with talent and skill who contributed greatly to the creation of the music Cooper produced during that era, Michael Bruce, Glen Buxton, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith also had the good fortune to have been a part of a revolutionary career that was as influential for the style and presentation that it introduced as it actually was for the music the band played. It needs to be acknowledged by all that the roots of makeup and theatrics in hard rock can both be traced in some way to this period. Hell, even John Lydon loves Alice Cooper, and he doesn‘t like anyone--the vocalist actually performed “Eighteen“ when he auditioned for the Sex Pistols. By the early 70‘s when this film was made, Vincent Furnier had managed to create a persona so imaginative and compelling that even he had difficulty differentiating where he ended and Alice began--in another portion of the commentary he goes on to state that the clothes he wore onstage during this performance were what he was actually wearing on the street at the time. More than anything else, the DVD documents that period—warts and all--interestingly enough, it is at least partially because of these imperfections that makes this disc a time capsule that tells the story of the origination of the modern stage show.

This disc opens with Alice dressed in a tux onstage with his band crooning “The Lady Is a Tramp”. The rest of the band is right there playing alongside while appearing as if they were about to go to a senior prom. The group appears bored throughout, yet instead of only playing a small portion of the song, the band manages to get through nearly the whole tune before Alice begins to rebel and tear apart the stage--hell, they could have gotten the same effect just by singing a few words of the song. Instead, the proceedings drag just like most of these slapstick segments and chase scenes that occur throughout. Now, before one starts yelling, “yeah, but that was thirty years ago. It was probably really funny then.” Uhmmm. No, actually it probably wasn’t. It is possible though to concede that although Cooper misses way, way more than he hits in the comedy game, it is important to note that by mixing these skits and storyline with the music, he may have simply been attempting to bring some levity to the proceedings by mixing in some humor with his stage show which at the time was supposed to be the most dangerous and rebellious around. It does create an effect here, just not a very good one—if a person does pick up this DVD though, they should watch these segments with Cooper’s commentary turned on at least once as he goes on to offer his take on what is already painfully evident:

“Obviously, we never heard of the word ‘edit.’”

“Some of this was done in one take.”

“As you can see, I had no ass--I don’t know where it went.”

Uh, yeah. He does offer up a lot of interesting asides though and in fact he hits it right on the head when he compares much of the shenanigans that they were engaging in (at one point the cast and band were frolicking with both an elephant and a tennis shoe wearing donkey) to the type of behavior one might be expect from a group like the “psychedelic Monkees”. Basically, these skits should only be viewed with the “commentary” on, but if by some chance a viewer were to find themselves continuously watching the entire film without this option, then that lucky potato chip eating amorphous blob needs to seriously evaluate where they are in life--if a person were to boil it all down, what I’m saying is that this DVD ain’t funny in the same way Jim Carrey in the Pet Detective wasn’t funny or even in the same way it wasn’t funny when your mother slept with your uncle before you were born. Honestly, by now you should know this type of behavior can only lead to crossed eyes, stunted intellectual growth and general bewilderment---really, look in the mirror if you think I’m lying.

Next to Alice Cooper’s commentary, the best feature on this DVD allows the audience to simply view the concert without all the seemingly endless slapstick humor. This is great news since this show, recorded in 1973 during concerts in Dallas and Houston represents Alice during a time when he was every mother’s nightmare and every rocker’s hero. There are thirteen tracks on the DVD performed in their entirety, which a viewer can also enjoy with Cooper’s commentary on as well. There are a few portions of this concert that truly stand out--one, Neal Smith is a helluva drummer--when Alice says at one point that Neal was the “best performance drummer he had ever played with,” it is easy to see that he isn’t just being complimentary. As Alice Cooper breaks into highlight “Billion Dollar Babies”, Cooper also divulges that the track was actually written around the drums rather than a guitar or vocal part. “I’m Eighteen”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “School’s Out” are all obvious tracks that get their justice here with Glen Buxton (No. 90 on the Rolling Stone Top 100 List of Guitarists of All Time…about seventy or so spots behind such stalwart s Tom Morello and Jack White…are you fucking kidding?) attacking the tunes and participating in the festivities in a legendary that left a legacy so large that even a guitarist the size of Kane Roberts couldn’t fill it. This is essentially the band the way it was meant to be seen. When the finale of the show comes and “Under My Wheels” is played followed by the unfurling of a giant flag and the playing of the National Anthem, the audience has not only been a part of a singular night of music, they have also witnessed the usual array of baby stabbings, decapitations and faux corpse boning. Some variation of many of these acts are still a part of the current Cooper show to this day--for good reason too because it makes for an incredible visual experience. Any metal fan worth a pair of sequined Chuck Taylors should be able to name at least five bands who should have had to pay Alice a royalty for basically ripping off the famous Cooper shtick in an inferior manner during the eighties and early nineties.

In light of the recent Kiss DVD review, I really feel the need to discuss the females that were in attendance at these shows. I have to say surprisingly enough that I would even give the chicks in this audience a thumbs-up over the ones in the Rock the Nation DVD. Seriously, there were some really cute ones here, and they weren’t all sunburns and silicone either…there were two issues that did kinda bother me though.

1. Although these girls were super good looking back in the day, the fact remains that they are all at least fifty now. The dolls of yesteryear are all well past M.I.L.F status at this juncture, so if ya want to see a picture of these golden oldies naked today, one would probably have to look at a site like G.M.I.L.F. which I would assume posts tasteful nudes for all those lovers of the sexy grandmothers out there.

2. Cooper’s mannequin during his stage show at that time had the greatest legs…but unfortunately, it also possessed the most enormous nether bush a person could imagine--it looked kinda like Danny Devito‘s hair when he starred on “Taxi.” I know that such pubic hair was de rigueur at the time, but…a person just can’t deny the recent reports emanating from Columbia University linking excess vaginal hair to increased feminine odor.

Right now, any rocker should currently be able to pick up this DVD up for between 10-15 dollars, and it’s worth that easily. Although it’s true the skits are gayer than Clay Aiken at the premiere of Brokeback Mountain or Paul Stanley shopping at Follicles R‘ Us, the performance is essentially a piece of hard rock history which still contains music that stands up more than favorably today. That shouldn’t be surprising though, as always, It Is Good To See You Again, Alice Cooper.

P.S. There are a few Easter Eggs here--nothing major or as cool as the ones on the Rush DVD, but all directions and descriptions of what can be found are at www.alicecooper.com.

*** 1/2

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