Tag Archive | Bob Ezrin

Recommended Viewing: Super Duper Alice Cooper

Super Duper Alice Cooper Poster

I’m going to assume that everyone reading this not only knows who Alice Cooper is, but is also aware that “Alice Cooper” was originally the name of a band with five guys in it. If you don’t know that much, you need to do your homework. Aside from getting your hands on Bob Greene’s long out of print book, Billion Dollar Baby, this film is as good a place as any to get schooled.

Although many only know Alice Cooper as an individual solo artist and Pop Culture icon, there are legions of devoted fans who are deeply dedicated to the music, history and memory of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame-inducted original band called Alice Cooper – a group that recorded seven groundbreaking gold and platinum-selling albums of original material and set single concert attendance World Records before disbanding in late 1974. For that latter group, let me speculate now that there will never be a better-made, more authentic public vehicle for telling the story of that original band, in as close to the ‘true story’ as possible, than this film. If the statement “Alice Cooper was a Band” resonates with you, then there is no way you will want to miss seeing this film.

Super Duper Alice Cooper is a highly entertaining documentary that aims to tell the life story of Vincent Furnier, the lead singer of the band Alice Cooper, who took the name as his own when the group disbanded. Vince/Alice’s story is told via first person voice over and vintage interview clips with Alice, but Alice Cooper band bassist Dennis Dunaway (whom Furnier met in high school) and drummer Neal Smith, who joined the band when they were still called The Nazz, also contribute to its engaging narrative. Furnier’s early days playing in local Phoenix bands with Dunaway and AC co-founder and lead guitarist, the late Glen Buxton are discussed in fairly minute detail, so you get a really good idea of the struggle that these guys went through on their way to becoming the biggest band in the world. Oddly, rhythm guitarist and primary songwriter, Michael Bruce is never mentioned by name even once in the film.

The most enjoyable parts of the film, for me, were the up-and-coming story of the band, its transition into becoming Alice Cooper, and the insane live performance footage, 90 percent which I would guess has never been shown in public before. It is one thing to read about how the band Alice Cooper invented Shock Rock, but it is an entirely different animal to see it play out before your eyes. No wonder that fans who were lucky enough to see the band live 40 years ago still talk about those shows to this day.

I’d say that a good 80 percent of Super Duper Alice Cooper is dedicated the formation and disintegration of the band (and holy shit, what a great fucking band they were), with the other 20 percent covering Alice’s budding solo career, alcoholism, cocaine addiction and recovery. So, there’s something for everyone. Consult Google to find a showing in your area, or wait for the DVD release. Either way, you gotta see this film.

The Worley Gig Gives Super Duper Alice Cooper 5 out of 5 Stars!

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Classic Alice Cooper Album Billion Dollar Babies To Be Released On Hybrid SACD On February 4, 2014!

B$B Dollar Bill

Alice Cooper fans worldwide rejoice! Marshall Blonstein’s Audio Fidelity is releasing “…one of the best rock ‘n’ roll records of all time” – the band called Alice Cooper’s classic album Billion Dollar Babies on Hybrid SACD (Super Audio CD) on February 4, 2014! As a bonus, along with the meticulously reproduced artwork, enclosed in every CD is the very collectible replicated Billion Dollar Bill that was Included in each original vinyl album.

With Billion Dollar Babies, the band called Alice Cooper refined the raw grit of their earlier work in favor of a slightly more polished sound, resulting in a mega-hit album that reached the top of the US and UK album charts. It’s impossible to overstate how popular the band had become by the time their sixth album was released. The album is brilliant, decadent and encapsulated all the celebrity trashiness of the ‘70s only three years into the decade.

Song for song, Billion Dollar Babies is probably the original Alice Cooper group’s finest and strongest work. The album’s singles “Elected,” “Hello Hooray,” “Billion Dollar Babies” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy” all became hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Also included are a pair of perennial concert standards – the disturbing necrophilia ditty “I Love the Dead” and the chilling macabre of “Sick Things.”

After the album was released, the band embarked on a tour which broke the US box office records previously held by The Rolling Stones. The show climaxed with a guillotine execution of Alice. The album and the tour made the band into the world’s preeminent pied pipers of teenage trash culture and the most successful rock band ever to be loathed by American parents.

“Other than the original ‘Alice Cooper Band’ being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2011, our second biggest achievement was when our album Billion Dollar Babies went to Number #1 in all three music trade magazines at the same time in April of 1973. Number #1 in Billboard, Number #1 in Record World and Number #1 in Cash Box. We had hoped it would sell Gold or Platinum as a follow up to the success of our album School’s Out, but a Number #1 album was something that was totally unexpected. Over the years the title track “Billion Dollar Babies” has become my signature song because of the recognizable drum intro.”

– Neal Smith, Alice Cooper drummer and founding member

“I remember we were out on the road when the album finally came out in February 1973. I listened to it in my hotel room and just got this really big smile. I was thinking, ‘It’s amazing, we’re really pulling this off’. The album was very, very unique and very, very different. I was really proud of the songs, especially ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’, ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ and ‘Generation Landslide’.”

– Michael Bruce, Alice Cooper guitarist/keyboardist and founding member

TRACKS:
1. Hello Hooray
2. Raped and Freezin’
3. Elected
4. Billion Dollar Babies
5. Unfinished Sweet
6. No More Mr. Nice Guy
7. Generation Landslide
8. Sick Things
9. Mary-Ann
10. I Love the Dead

Produced by Bob Ezrin, Mastered by Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Mastering.

To purchase, visit This Link.

B$B SACD

Recommended Listening: The Darkness, Hot Cakes

The Darkness Hot Cakes CD Cover Art
Serving It Up Hot!

Can you believe it’s been seven years (seven years!) since British glam rock revivalists The Darkness released a new album? I can’t, because that means it’s been more than seven years since I had a brief but truly memorable phone conversation with legendary producer/ engineer Roy Thomas Baker. Baker was in the studio with The Darkness at the time, producing what would become their sophomore CD, One Way Ticket to Hell…and Back. The nut of that conversation was Baker turning down my request for an interview with Modern Drummer magazine regarding his groundbreaking work with numerous influential drummers. Despite a presumed awareness that Modern Drummer was neither Tape Op nor Mix, but a magazine about drummers and drumming, Baker told me straight up that he “couldn’t imagine why” he would even consider doing an interview for any magazine that wouldn’t put him on the cover.

My point here is how unsurprising it was that The Darkness – who were their own worst enemies in many ways – would choose to work with an egomaniac like Roy Thomas Baker. Because, for as ‘pretty good’ and legitimately interest-piquing as the groups’ debut, Permission to Land, was – and despite the fairly transparent tongue-in-cheekiness on the part of the band’s central mouthpiece, Justin Hawkins – no matter how great or godlike or heaven sent a band may think it is talent-wise, unless you are John Lennon, you should probably avoid talking about how your band is More Popular Than Jesus (or words to that effect). In almost every case, it’s going to backfire (see: sales and critical reception of One Way Ticket to Hell…and Back). As a general rule, it’s advisable to just shut the fuck up about your own perceived greatness and let the music do the talking. That way, if the music is indeed as great as the band says it is, your audience will do the taking, you will build a loyal fan base, and sell enough records / concert tickets to make a living. Win win!

None of that matters anymore though, because The Darkness has a new CD out called Hot Cakes that is so excellent, it wipes the slate clean of all past transgressions, real or perceived. It is obvious from the consistently high quality of the songwriting and the top-shelf musicianship going on all over Hot Cakes that The Darkness has not spent the past seven years jerking off (figuratively or otherwise), because the growth curve here is off the charts. Like many bands that dabble in the resurrection of a much-beloved but long gone rock genre, The Darkness are one of the most polarizing bands currently working. When I first received an advance of Hot Cakes and posted on FaceBook about how much I was digging it, comments on that post ranged from “I love their first album so much but couldn’t stand the second” to “their first album totally sucked, but their second one was fantastic.” So, your mileage may vary. But here’s 1,000 words about what I think.

Hot Cakes features the original lineup of singer Justin Hawkins, guitarist Dan Hawkins, bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Ed Graham and was produced by the band, along with Nick Brine, and mixed by Bob Ezrin. Bob Fucking Ezrin! Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay to Hot Cakes is to confess that listening to these songs made me realize how really impotent and mediocre anything else that you could call “current” sounds in comparison. Completely deserving of the label All Killer No Filler, I love every song on this CD. Better yet, each song sounds more amazing with each successive listen! When was the last time you could say that? Me: not recently.

The disc launches on a high note, and never lets up, with “Every Inch of You”Hawkin’s cheeky autobiographical anthem about his personal aspirations as they relate to the rise and fall and rise again of his band. “Every Inch of You” harnesses the best of The Darkness’s deep indebtedness to Queen and T Rex.

Just as Elton John released “I’m Still Standing” as a high-ground way of telling all his naysayers to get bent, The Darkness offer “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us,” an ecstatic anthem featuring the most adhesive, razor-sharp garage rock riffs since The Hellacopters were actively recording. “With a Woman” channels AC/DC and Motorhead as fronted by Freddie Mercury, and you will certainly notice other winks and nods to AC/DC around the CD. All good! “Keep Me Hangin’ On” moves along on a thunderous, galloping beat that will remind those who were raised on 70s radio of the time when rock music was fun, crazy and truly magical. Rock Passion is alive on Hot Cakes!

Further on, as each track segues seamlessly into the next, the ballad “Living Each Day Blind” conjures what Coldplay might sound like if they had any nads. The first single, “Everybody Have A Good Time” has one of the best lines of the many not- insignificantly-poignant lyrics on the record: “Take off your thinking cap / and listen to your heart.” At its core, this is a thoughtfully crafted song about living in the now rather than dwelling on the past or pining for the future. Good advice, Darkness! If you dug the sound of Permission to Land, you will be won over by this song on its own.

“Forbidden Love” makes excellent use of an intoxicating Latin motif but still rocks hard enough to crack a skull, and Hot Cakes also includes a cover of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” which manages to stay faithful to the original while sounding heavier than the heaviest Iron Maiden song. Run to the Hills! My favorite, though, is “She’s Just a Girl Eddie,” an enthusiastic romp on which a guy consoles a brokenhearted friend by advising him to forget his fresh heartache and gear up for all the good things (i.e. more women) to come. I give this same advice to any of my girlfriends when they get dumped. He’s just a guy! Why waste your precious time on someone who doesn’t get how awesome you are? Fuck that noise and move on! I love this album! Ladies and Gentlemen, The Darkness is back!

Grade: A+

Hot Cakes Is Released in the US on August 21st, 2012!

Alice Cooper Debuts Tracks From Upcoming Welcome 2 My Nightmare CD

Alice Cooper’s long-awaited sequel to his 1975 classic Welcome to My Nightmare comes out on September 13, 2011, but Alice will preview select tracks in their entirety and offer his personal commentary on his syndicated Nights with Alice Cooper radio show on Friday, August 19th. Coop kicks off the program with the world debut of W2MN’s first single, “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” (written by original Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith) and he’ll pick other favorites from the 14-track album, including “Runaway Train” and “I Gotta Get Outta Here” to tease and talk about during the show. W2MN, recorded with longtime collaborator Bob Ezrin (who produced the original multi-platinum Welcome To My Nightmare album in 1975), picks up right where they left off.

On Friday’s edition of Nights with Alice Cooper, Alice dishes on the array of collaborators on the new CD, including original Alice Cooper members Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce and Neal Smith (reunited on three tracks!); global pop superstar Ke$ha, and legendary Alice and Lou Reed guitarist Steve Hunter, who is part of Alice’s current touring band and featured prominently on the first Nightmare album. During the five-hour program, the show will follow its normal format in addition to airing the world premiere tracks. Nights with Alice Cooper is broadcast on more than 125 affiliate stations in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. To find the station in your area visit This Link.

Original Members of the Alice Cooper Band Record New Material for Cooper Solo Album

Alice Cooper in 1972: Neal, Alice, Michael, Dennis and Glen

Hello, Hurray! Fans of the original 1970s band Alice Cooper are about to have one of their long-hoped-for dreams come true. The band’s four surviving members, guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway, drummer Neal Smith and vocalist Alice Cooper (lead guitarist Glen Buxton passed away in 1997) spent two days in September at a NYC studio recording three original tracks for Cooper’s next solo album. Rumored to be a follow-up to Cooper’s first solo effort, 1975’s Welcome To My Nightmare, the album is due to be released in the fall of 2011. These sessions were the first to feature all members of the original Alice Cooper band since the group recorded its 1974 swan song, Muscle of Love.

At the board for these sessions was studio legend Bob Ezrin, who not only produced the band’s commercial breakthrough, 1971’s Love it To Death (featuring the hit single “I’m Eighteen”), but who was also responsible for producing several of their other classic hits, including School’s Out and their most popular and commercially successful album, 1973’s Billion Dollar Babies. Ezrin has also produced many solo albums for Alice Cooper the individual since the band’s breakup. Ezrin, whose exhaustive body of work includes landmark albums such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall, has been quoted as saying that the work he did with the Alice Cooper Band in the seventies gave him his career. It is also rumored that rock photographer Bob Gruen, who took many photos of the original band back in the day – including promotional shots for Muscle of Love featuring the band dressed in identical sailor suits – made an appearance to visually document the band hanging out in the studio.

Those Alice Cooper band devotees still hoping for a reunion that would see the band perform live can hold out hope that Smith, Dunaway and Bruce make good on rumors that they will join Cooper this coming December in Phoenix, AZ for his annual Christmas Pudding charity concert event.

Gail In Print: Modern Drummer, September 2006

SeptMD.jpg
Not Bobcat Goldthwaite

Dave Lombardo of Slayer is looking very much like comedian Bobcat Goldthwaite on the cover of the September 2006 issue of Modern Drummer Magazine. Inside, on page 150 and continuing for seven glorious, glossy pages you will find my current masterpiece: an in-depth interview with the extraordinary Ray Luzier.

Best known for his nine years as the drummer for wild man David Lee Roth, Ray’s touring and studio experience is as vast as his reputation as an expert a drum clinician is strong. Ray is currently rocking the world as part of LA’s latest Supegroup, Army of Anyone, which also features brothers Robert and Dean Deleo (ex-Stone Temple Pilots) and vocalist Richard Patrick from Filter. I’ve known Ray for years now and I can honestly say that this is not only the best showcase piece on Ray’s talents ever written, but it’s also among my best work for Modern Drummer. The article also features my side bar with studio legend, producer Bob Ezrin. Exciting!

This piece is not online and can only be found on newsstands when the September MD hits the stores in the first week of August. Please check it out.

“Drummers are the martial artists and fire jugglers of music and should be treated with respect.”

— Sir Millard Mulch