Review Summary: Classic hits and a slice of Cooper's horror rock compiled from one excellent show in 1977
In 1977 Vincent Furnier was well into his career as a rock musician and creator of stage persona Alice Cooper. His original band had fallen apart and in order to keep performing solo under the same name he was forced to also change his name legally to Alice Cooper.
Producer Bob Ezrin set him up with a new band consisting in part of Lou Reed’s backing band, including guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner. With a couple of songs recently in the charts (“I Never Cry”, “You and Me”) and two new albums released in the last year he was ready to tour again. The 1977 tour continued the, by then infamous, stage antics complete with guillotine, baby dolls, snakes and other horror visual effects.
The flipside to Cooper’s success was an ever growing alcoholis dependency. In the mid seventies Cooper formed “The Hollywood Vampires”, a drinking club with members like Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon and John Lennon. The initiation rite to this club was simply to outdrink all other members.
When Cooper finally hospitalized himself in 1977 in order to get sober, Warner compiled a live album from his 1977 show at The Alladin in Las Vegas for release in the meantime.
“The Alice Cooper Show” was in fact the first live album to be released by Alice Cooper, which is notable because the band’s live performances had always been such extraordinary events, and the band had been already together since 1969.
The show opens with the “Killer” track “Under My Wheels” immediately followed by “I’m Eighteen” of the album “Love It To Death”. Both tracks are excellent renditions; played super tight and slightly faster than on the original album making for an outstanding opening. Guitarists Hunter and Wagner shine on both tracks with great solo work and although Cooper must have been seriously under the influence his vocal performances are great.
Cooper was scoring hits with his lighter songs too, two of which are included on this album. “Only Women Bleed” is a slow song but still has an edge due to it’s lyrics and is well executed here. “I Never Cry” however feels superfluous on this other wise pretty hard rocking and dark album.
After hit single “Billion Dollar Babies”, again with great guitarwork, the band takes the listener further on the ride through the nightmare that’s an Alice Cooper concert; From “Devil’s Food” to “Black Widow” complete with narration from horror moviestar Vincent Price, and continuing with a fine medley of equally dark stuff like “I Love The Dead”.
The mood build up is a bit disrupted by the album closer and classic live encore “School’s Out”, which is a pity because the album is flowing in the right way up to that point especially the second half.
In the end this live album is musically very entertaining and a lot of the songs are more enjoyable to listen to than the original album versions. The overall sound quality is very high. As a complete concert registration the album falls a bit short and the inclusion of two (hit-) ballads (on a total of eleven tracks) and compulsory album closer “School’s Out” suggests that Warner was probably more involved in the compilation of this album than the band was.