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Alice Cooper is one of those immortal characters of Rock who seems to have been around forever but has remained just on the right side of “self parody”, something KISS could learn about. Anyway, this 2-disc set contains a wealth of archive material from the man with the big snake, so here’s a brief career overview.

Alice Cooper: Prime Cuts
Film
Alice Cooper was born Vincent Damon Furnier, the son of a minister in 1948. He formed a high school band that was a parody of the Beatles, called the Earwigs. The band evolved into "Alice Cooper", this being a name that suggested an evil little girl. As time went on, the "Alice" name became more and more associated with Furnier as lead singer - so he changed his name and became Alice Cooper.

Their initial releases "Pretties for You" and "Easy Action" were met with total indifference by the record buying public and it wasn’t until "Love it to Death" was released in 1971 that people took notice. This contained an anthem still played today at each concert "I'm Eighteen". It was the first collaboration with producer Bob Ezrin.
“Killer” and “School’s Out” which spawned his first UK number one in 1972 quickly followed “Love it to Death”.

By 1973, he was the top seller in the UK, with hits coming thick and fast from career defining "Billion Dollar Babies" release and the following controversial tour. He was so successful at this time that the makers of the Bond films offered him the opportunity of composing and performing the theme for the next film "The Man With the Golden Gun". Ultimately, Alice was deemed too controversial, but it did appear on his next album, "Muscle of Love" which was to be the last album by the original band.

Alice threw himself into the next phase of his career in 1975 with a hugely theatrical album and show entitled "Welcome to My Nightmare" which was a massive success, followed in 1976 by a concept album "Alice Cooper Goes To Hell". On the heels of the lacklustre "Lace and Whiskey" album in 1978, he teamed up with Bernie Taupin the following year on the album "From The Inside" which depicted his stay in a Mental Institution. Obviously this resulted in perhaps his most personally themed work. It was tied in by a one shot comic by Marvel Comics, which formed part of their "Marvel Premiere" series.

Alice Cooper: Prime Cuts
After a few years in the rock n’ roll wilderness Alice hit the UK number one spot again in 1989 with "Poison" from the "Trash" album. A song he's quoted as saying that every lap dancer he knows has danced to.

During his career, he has persuaded horror genre favourites Vincent Price and Robert (Freddy Krueger) Englund to appear on his albums, plus he provided the soundtrack music for Friday the 13th Part 6 Jason Lives. He has appeared onscreen in "Wayne's World" and a cameo as Freddy Krueger's father in "Freddy's Dead - The Final Nightmare". He continues to tour - the most recent ones being the "Brutal Planet" and "Eyes of Alice Cooper" tours. So now you know!

This release spans nearly all of his career and is split into 2 sections; main documentary on disc 1 and most of the extras on disc 2.

Video
The transfer is incredibly soft and seems to have come from an NTSC master. It lacks detail at times with some interviews looking like they were filmed through a light fog. Colours are garish at times as well, at times this is due to the archive footage but the newer material suffers from it as well. Detail is lacking at all times but I doubt fans will be bothered by this. The raw footage of Alice on stage is pretty unforgetable no matter how fuzzy the source was!

Audio
Sound is available in two mixes, stereo and DD 5.1. and there’s very little difference between them. Both are very flat and suffer from poor sourcing. This doesn’t just affect the archive material but also the newer recordings. Poison sounds terrible with the vocals difficult to make out at times. Rears are used sparingly in the surround mix and add little to the experience. So for a musical disc the audio really lets it down. The animated menus are fun and well animated but there is no option for subtitles.

Alice Cooper: Prime Cuts
Extras
The first disc of this release contains the original Prime Cuts documentary, which charts Alice’s career up until 2001. It’s a rose-tinted piece running 90 minutes and says little about his life away from the band, never mentioning his rehab experiences etc. The whole documentary is filled with sound bites and critic from some colourful characters. Alice himself is good value when talking about his career, shame he doesn’t elaborate on certain topics. It’s chock-a-block with archive material, some slightly dodgy in quality but absolutely priceless to fans. Some of it is downright scary, it’s a well-known fact that the stage act and antics from the band got them a huge following and were hated by the moral majority. The best thing about it is that it consists mainly of concert footage so we get to see Alice in the raw, as it were.

All of his famous work is here from the anthemic Schools Out, Elected, Billion Dollar Babies to the soft rock of Hey Stoopid and Poison. You can also access all of the promo videos contained in documentary via the Alice Copper Virtual Jukebox, which is a nice touch. Some of the archive material here has seen better days, mainly shot on old stock video, but are priceless for the performances.

Moving onto the second disc and on this shiny platter you’ll discover over 80 minutes of specially recorded material for this release. Unfortunately you have to play  Coopergame to access them all. This is an incredibly frustrating version of snakes and ladders and takes patience to complete so you get to view everything. Roll the dice and you move that amount of spaces shown and you either climb a chain or slide down a snake. Certain squares on the board give you access to the hidden material. Get to square 100 and you can watch them all. There are over 18 different clips here ranging from interviews with Alice, the band and plenty more who queue up to give their account of certain events. Its takes time to go through, believe me it took me quite a few attempts. The Picture Gallery is a far more simple affair to access and is filled with plenty of archive pictures of Alice and his band in action.

Alice Cooper: Prime Cuts
Overvall
In short this is an OK package, not bursting with extras as such, but enough to keep fans entertained for many hours. Shame about the sound and picture quality though.

Cheers to Rob Pierce for supplying and checking most of the facts contained.


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