Thursday, January 08, 2015

Alice Cooper - Old School (1964-1974)

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE Alice Cooper Group fan - I love all of the records (well, maybe not Muscle of Love, which already has extra personnel, though I may need to revisit that) and have been knocked out by their live show since I first saw them on the first In Concert TV show. Unfortunately, I was never able to see the band live, much to my eternal regret. This compilation, though, is an incredible treasure trove of live takes, demos, ads and interviews, many of which were never heard before - at least, legitimately.

The first two CDs of this 4 CD set consists of the afore-mentioned demos, live cuts and ads - all extremely cool, though, naturally, of varying degrees of sound quality. Disc one opens with a track from the Spiders, "No Price Tag", though no other Spiders or Nazz tracks - presumably since they were released on the Life & Crimes of Alice Cooper box set. Demos include "Nobody Likes Me" (think that was only on a flexi previously), an early version of "Swing Low Sweet Cheerio" titled "On a Train Trip", "Reflected", "I'm Eighteen", "Be My Lover", "Killer", "Halo of Flies" and an embryonic "Desperado" called "Tornado Warning". Lots of terrific live stuff, as well, like a slower "Fields of Regret" that has some ferocious fuzz guitar, feedback and terrific leads from Glenn Buxton, "18" done quieter and slower, but building with intensity and more smokin' Buxton guitar, and "Mr. and Misdemeanor" with different instruments and lyrics, along with plenty more.

Disc two has a live jam on "School's Out", and truly fun "Kids' Session" for the same song (Alice is great with the kids), pre-production cuts of "Looney Tunes" and "My Stars", a great demo of "School's Out", an extended live "Under My Wheels" with Alice being lewd with the young girls, a bunch of Muscle of Love demos, some cool radio ads and a live "Muscle Of Love" from, I believe, their last show ever as a band.

Truthfully, I haven't listened to the interview disc yet, though I'm sure it is entertaining, but disc four is a complete (apparently) live show from 1971 from the Killer tour. A cool, very rockin' intro starts off a wild'n'heavy "Be My Lover", followed by one of my faves, "You Drive Me Nervous", with Glenn in stellar form - with some help from Michael Bruce - along with a fantastic "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah". They take a short breath before blasting into "I'm Eighteen", another powerful take with a somewhat extended ending, which leads into "Halo of Flies", showing off what a terrific two-guitar team Buxton and Bruce were, not to mention the amazing rhythm section of Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith - both extraordinary players who still worked together to make an amazing rock'n'roll unit. "Is It My Body" is raw'n'rough and is expanded with a sultry, slithery, build-up ending that I've always loved from earlier bootlegs - in fact, the Tommyknockers used to do this version 20-some years ago - and this at least as good as anything I've seen/heard before - in fact, the quality on this whole show is pretty exceptional. Dunaway introduces "Dead Babies" which transitions into "Killer" with some live antics and drama, which, of course, culminates with Alice's hanging. They come back harder than ever with "Long Way To Go" before ending the proceedings with "Under My Wheels". This set is so exceptionally good that I wonder if there was some studio tweeking cuz even with a couple mishaps, this is some spectacular playing all around (and I've heard some shakey bootlegs)! Regardless, it's great!

This is a set for fans, for sure, but what a set - every fan should own it! And anyone else needs to pick up the first five studio albums ASAP, cuz you need those in your collection! Terrific!