Alice Cooper, the band, not the man, had achieved a tremendous amount of success by the time their high-charting Billion Dollar Babies rolled around with its string of hits and classic non-hits. It possessed the ghost of Killer with the band's walk in macabre territory with "I Love The Dead." It wallowed in theatricality much like School's Out did, with a dive into rock meets West Side Story and the anthemic and satisfying "School's Out," a song that is as prevalent today as the day it was released. And it set new standards for itself, preparing the man (Vince Furnier) for his solo career.
The fascinating thing about Alice Cooper (the band), was their ability to morph throughout styles in rapid time beginning with their 3rd album, the Warner released Love It To Death. By the time Love It To Death caught the public's interest, Alice Cooper had begun a new period by the near immediate release of Killer. School's Out, and Billion Dollar Babies were churned out just over 6 months from each other resulting in 4 dynamically produced works, each as different from the other as the brief period that separates them.
Billion Dollar Babies escorted the band to the upper echelon of the rock hierarchy, forever cementing the band's appeal, starting the album's reign with a pre-release of "Hello Hooray" and leading to the peak of Alice Cooper. The original film, Good To See You Again, Alice Cooper: Live 1973 - The Billion Dollar Babies Tour is a document of that peak. It shows the band in their theatrical chops, becoming less a band and more of a stage prop for the man that eventually became known solely as Alice Cooper, stripping the name's attachment to the 5 members of the original band.
The film in its entirety is a camp look at the band as it defies the fame that has been heaped upon it, shunning the sell-out direction of a movie director as he strived to make a masterpiece starring the Alice Cooper band. As they move away from that fame, the director and his actor-sidekick hunt for the band that ruined his only shot at real acceptance. Interspersed throughout are sessions with a psychiatrist to help ease the pain of deprivation.
This stitching of vignettes with actual concert footage is quite campy and can be quite maddening when watching the film as it was produced and meant to be shown. Fortunately, Shout! Factory, in their wisdom, has recognized the probable distraction the film, as seen in its entirety, could provide and has thoughtfully allowed for a complete viewing of the concert without the acted bits. However, the film being what it is, it is essential that the original movie be preserved, despite its ridiculousness. Again, Shout! Factory does the right thing by putting the original production in your hands but giving you a way to enjoy the concert itself.
In the concert footage, as stated before, the Welcome To My Nightmare theatricality is seen birthed in this tour and especially marked by the showy displays of "Unfinished Sweet." Furnier begins the song holding onto his "aching tooth" and eventually being drilled by a dentist and mocked by a dancing tooth as he brushes it into oblivion with giant props of toothpaste and brush. The snake makes an appearance and vintage Alice Cooper is seen for everyone's enjoyment. Sadly, the band is relegated to the rear as a backdrop to the Furnier show, making it easy to see why the breakup was easy to endure. They were divorced from the persona of Alice Cooper as early as their best-selling album of 1973.
There are 13 songs on this DVD including an uncensored version of "Infinished Sweet" (accessed as an extra) as well as the censored movie version of the same song. The entire Billion Dollar Babies album is performed with the exception of the very interesting, and lamentably not included "Generation Landslide," and the gender-confused ballad, "Mary Ann." Plugged in from other albums are "Dead Babies," "Under My Wheels" (Killer), "School's Out," "My Stars" (School's Out), and "I'm Eighteen" (Love It To Death).
The extras on the disc include audio commentary by Vicent Furnier (I still can't bring myself to refer to him completely as Alice Cooper), the original theatrical trailer along with chosen radio spots, poster gallery with original promo materials, sufficient band biographies, deleted scenes and outtakes, a studio version of Mr Furnier singing "The Lady Is a Tramp," and hidden Easter Eggs, none of which I have found yet. The film itself is presented in anamorphic widescreen and delivered in 5.1 surround.
Alice Cooper is an essential aspect of '70s rock, as defining as any band of that same era. They helped to usher rock into another phase and jumpstarted the career of one Marilyn Manson. Alice Cooper rocked and this DVD shows that.
Man, I would love to see the original band reunite. But until then, if 'then' ever gets here, I recommend Good To See You Again, Alice Copoer.