Old School: 1964-1974
This extensive collection gathers together four volumes of demos, live performances, interviews, and other ephemeral material from the earliest phases of Detroit shock-glam legends Alice Cooper, and even traces their roots before the band as most know it came to be. The collection begins with the stompy garage psych number "No Price Tag" from Vincent Furnier's pre-AC 1966 band Spiders. Early demos from 1969's Pretties for You album follow, as do radio spots and raw live recordings from the earliest eras of the band, including an 11-minute organ-drone version of "I'm Eighteen," introduced as "a brand-new song" and sounding more like some bastardized take on the Doors than the three-minute confused coming-of-age rocker that wound up on 1971's Love It to Death album. Much of the rest of the set follows a similar tone, with demo recordings for both the Killer and Muscle of Love albums, live recordings from each subsequent era, and even studio outtakes and production-room snippets that never made it past their recording sessions before. The most incredible moment of this type on the collection comes in the form of unaccompanied overdubs of a gang of bratty kids singing the choruses of "School's Out," chatting and insulting Alice and the engineers in the studio. Alice coaching the kids on how to convey how deeply they hate school is so childlike it takes on its own kind of unlikely sweetness. The lengthy interview disc is more of a one-time listen for the die-hard fans, but an entire St. Louis concert from 1971 holds up better than expected, finding the band on the cusp of breaking through with its then-groundbreakingly monstrous stage show. Some listeners will be more excited about gritty demos and archival live footage and interviews than others, and this is very much a collection for those listeners. Anyone so deeply enamored with the early Alice Cooper albums that they've over-listened to them but still want more will find a wealth of buried treasures here. This set (and its accompanying 64-page book packaging) shows there was more going on behind the scenes in the early development of Alice Cooper than the band's finished products would reveal.