“Super Duper Alice Cooper,” the theatrically released documentary now out on DVD, tells the tale of Vincent Furnier and his transformation into Alice Cooper, one of the biggest rock stars in the world.
Using archival footage, tons of vintage photos and commentary by the likes of Alice Cooper Group bassist Dennis Dunaway, manager Shep Gordon, super-groupie Pamela Des Barres, contemporaries Iggy Pop, Wayne Kramer, Elton John and Alice himself, the movie goes from Vince’s beginning, born in Detroit, but raised on Phoenix, AZ a preachers son, to the band’s start as Beatles wannabes the Earwigs, the name changes; the Spiders, the Nazz and eventually – with help of a a ouiji board – the Alice Cooper Group, a sinister, long-haired rock and roll band that changed the face of theatrics in rock music.
The film moves quickly from the early days to the band’s escape to LA, where – with the help of the notorious GTOs girl group and their introduction to Frank Zappa – they began threatening hippies on the Sunset Strip, to their move to Detroit were the group of oddly dressed misfits found a spiritual home and honed their act into the most visual and shocking of the time, to the making of their first hit the iconic anthem, “Eighteen.”
There was a time in the early ’70s, between the Rolling Stones at their peak and the dawn of punk, that the Alice Cooper Group was the most threatening, anti-establishment band around. A trashy, long-haired rock & roll outfit that scared the hell out of parents with their look and violent stage show. In the process of creating the genre known as “shock rock,” they released a string of great albums, steeped in hard, gritty, psychedelic-garage rock and filled with instantly recognizable teen-angst anthems.
By 1974, the stage show was getting to be less “Clockwork Orange” street-punk and more Hollywood B-horror movie and that great original lineup soon dissolved leaving Alice to soldier on with a long running, if at times spotty, solo career. It seems like he spent a lot of time trying to convince people he was just an average Budweiser-swilling, golf-playing, regular kind of guy, appearing on “Hollywood Squares” and any variety show that would have him. Some of his post-Alice Cooper Group albums had some good songs – most notably his first solo outing “Welcome to My Nightmare” – but many failed to capture the magic of those early Bob Ezrin-produced albums.
Fortunately, when Alice Cooper brought his “No More Mr. Nice Guy” tour to Albany last week, he leaned heavy on the past, offering up hit after hit with a set list that drew mostly from his “Love It to Death” thru “Billion Dollar Babies”-era recordings, while also touching on the best known songs of his solo work. And the fans loved it! Even after all these years, Alice, with his snarl intact, still puts on a “Killer” show!
“I can go in a million different directions. I can listen to Antonio Carlos Jobim. I can listen to Burt Bacharach and Laura Nyro, or I can listen to Iggy & the Stooges and the Mothers of Invention. I listen to whatever’s on.”
In support of his new album, “Welcome 2 My Nightmare,” recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Alice Cooper brings his No More Mr. Nice Guy tour to the Palace Theatre in Albany on Wednesday (November 30). Greek-born, London-bred Goth singer Livan opens the show at 8pm. Tix are $24.50, $34.50, $49.50, $54.50 and $59.50.
Alice Cooper’s classic “School’s Out” album first saw the light of day back in 1972, and what kid since then hasn’t loved the title tune, cranking it up on the radio, stereo or iPod at the end of the school year?
How many rockers from Kiss to Ozzy Osborne to the New York Dolls owe at least a part of their career success to Alice Cooper’s pioneering use of theatrical make-up and elaborate stage sets littered with guillotines, electric chairs or a hang-man’s noose swaying in the background?
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