Shout! Factory // 1979 // 72 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // April 25th, 2012
What are you doing here, Alice?
Alice Cooper was my first favorite artist. Whether I thought he and the band were super shocking or I just had an inherent love of Detroit-based blues rock, I don't know, but I had every cassette I could afford. Regardless, the man born Vincent Furnier basically invented that style of shock-pop, which lesser acts like GWAR and Marilyn Manson would keep alive.
In 1978, however, things weren't going so hot for Alice. His addiction to alcohol had taken control of his life and rehab was his only way out. Upon his return, he set out to record the album he would call From the Inside, which detailed his time in the hospital. The Madhouse Rock Tour was the live theatrical event to support the album. This performance, from San Diego on April 9, 1979, became The Strange Case of Alice Cooper, and it shows a performer back on top of his game.
Sobriety never toned Alice Cooper down, and it might have sent him even further down the path he walked. If you've ever seen Alice Cooper live, everything you've come to expect is here, including strait jackets, electric chairs, and the voice of Vincent Price all make their due appearances. Given the subject matter, though, Alice also pulls out liquor-related props, including giant dancing bottles of scotch and tequila. It's silly, sure, but he always had a sense of humor about himself and it comes through really well in the show.
Much of From the Inside is represented on the show, as well as some of his greatest hits, including "Billion Dollar Babies," "Welcome to My Nightmare," and of course, "School's Out," which he uses as his encore. I really like the way the show rolls out, with a little over an hour serving as his theatrical show, in which he interacts almost none with the fans. After that, he comes out for the encore in street clothes and slightly reduced makeup to thank the audience, introduce the band, and play a great version of what remains his most enduring hit (if a little overrated as a song). Mostly, Alice and the band sound great. There's a ton of energy from everyone and, when Cooper is really on, he's a force of nature on stage. This is a great show and a lot of fun.
The Strange Case of Alice Cooper comes to DVD for the first time from Shout! Factory. It's not the greatest product in their collection, but it does continue the label's tradition of solid releases of obscure music and television from the past. In this case, there's only so much that could have been done with the original, which doesn't look terrible, but doesn't look great, either. There's some damage, and the color looks as one might expect from a 30-year-old video production. The transfer is without many errors, so it's as good as I could want. The stereo mix is pretty good, though, with solid sound on the low end as well as the high. The instruments are always nicely differentiated and the vocals are front and center. As long as it sounds good, I can forgive how it looks. The only extra is a spotty audio commentary with the man himself, spotty both because of how often he talks and how interesting he is when he does talk, unfortunately.
I don't really care that the commentary isn't very good, The Strange Case of Alice Cooper presents the band just past their absolute height. It's a great show that every fan of Alice Cooper will want to buy.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 72 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Alice Cooper