Frank Zappa as record label honcho in ‘From Straight to Bizarre’

By far the majority of artist-run record labels exist as mere vanity imprints, releasing an album or two by the musician/would-be entrepreneur him/herself, and that’s that. Noteworthy exceptions are certainly around—Trent Reznor’s Nothing Records and Null Corporation, Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe, and Jack White’s Third Man are a few artist-run labels that have achieved significant successes.

An early example of such an artist using his own label to bypass the strictures of major label deals is, unsurprisingly, the iconoclastically independent-minded Frank Zappa. In the late ‘60s, when Verve Records inexplicably missed their deadline to re-up Zappa’s contract, he and his manager Herb Cohen used that leverage to establish their own production company and label, to retain creative control, and to release artists they favored. The labels they established were Straight Records and Bizarre Records. Between them, in a mere five years of existence, the labels released albums by Lenny Bruce and Wild Man Fischer, and now-immortal recordings like Alice Cooper’s Love It to Death, Tim Buckley’s Starsailor, and Captain Beefheart essentials like Trout Mask Replica and Lick My Decals Off, Baby.

Tom O’Dell’s 2011 documentary From Straight to Bizarre tells the labels’ story in detail, through interviews with Pamela Des Barres, John “Drumbo” French, Sandy “Essra Mohawk” Hurvitz, Kim Fowley, Alice Cooper’s Dennis Dunaway and the Mothers of Invention’s Jeff Simmons, among many others. YouTube user Treble Clef has broken the feature-length doc into short chunks for your piecemeal viewing convenience. There’s a lot of illuminating stuff herein, so please, enjoy.

More after the jump…

Written by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Killer Alice Cooper concert live at the Paris Olympia, 1972
10:17 am


Derek Jarman
Alice Cooper

Like my DM colleague, Richard Metzger, I am a big fan of Alice Cooper, the band. But unlike Richard, I’m also a fan of Alice Cooper, the artiste, and have followed Vince Furnier’s solo career with a mixture of joy and frustration.

But back to Alice Cooper the band. In the early seventies they were utterly superb, and their albums from Love It To Death to Billion Dollar Babies were all near perfect.

My introduction to the band came in 1972, when Alice Cooper had conquered most of Europe, and their single “School’s Out” had spent the summer at the top of the UK charts. There followed the albums, the singles, the sell-out concerts, and the usual teenage hysteria, with some tut-tutting from TV news reports on the outrage caused.

Now an interesting footnote to all this excitement happened in November of that year, when Derek Jarman was introduced to Alice Cooper’s manager, who suggested to the young designer and filmmaker, “as he spooned cocaine like rat poison” that he stage Alice on Broadway.

As Jarman later explained in his memoir Dancing Ledge, he joined the band briefly on their tour of Europe.

I joined the band a couple of months later in Copenhagen. There were thirty or more of them, resembling a gang of Davy Crockett trappers. They travelled in a private jet, took over floors of an hotel, and played long-running table-tennis tournaments as they downed an infinite supply of Budweiser.

Jarman was rather prissy about all the anarchy, sex, drugs and drink, and after seeing the band perform in Germany, where “Alice, python and beer can, cavorted around the stage singing ‘School’s Out’ before hanging himself,” he took a plane back to England, to work on his ideas for Alice Cooper’s Broadway show.

I sent a letter explaining a staging for Alice, who was to arrive on a huge articulated black widow spider. It would crawl out of a steely web on to the Broadway stage with Alice at its helm holding a gold and leather harness, dressed in rubies from head to foot, like Heliogabalus entering Rome—and that was that. I never heard from them again.

December 1972, Alice Cooper played the Olympia Theater in Paris. A documentary crew were in tow, who filmed the band’s arrival in the City of Lights, and a selection of songs from the show, including “Public Animal #9,” “Eighteen,” “Is It My Body,” “Gutter Cats vs. The Jets,” “Killer,” and “Elected.”

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Devil’s Food: Alice Cooper and Vincent Price in ‘The Nightmare’
07:44 am


Alice Cooper
Vincent Price

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a total nut for Alice Cooper. But Alice Cooper, the band. The solo Alice? Eh, not so much.

The “classic” Alice Cooper albums I can play over and over and over again. I played them obsessively when I was a child and I still play them a lot today (especially Billion Dollar Babies). There was one year—1986 to be exact—where I pretty much only listened to four things: James Brown, Sly & The Family Stone and Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (don’t laugh, they’re fucking awesome) and Alice Cooper. To the exclusion of all else.

From Pretties for You through Easy Action, Love It to Death, Killer, School’s Out and Billion Dollar Babies, Alice Cooper could do no wrong in my eyes. Those albums are perfect (well maybe not the first two, but they do have their perfect moments.)

Muscle of Love is basically a shit album. There’s a reason why it was in the cut-out bins so soon after it came out. It’s a weak record and the band split after it.

Then comes solo Alice. Welcome to My Nightmare, Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, Lace and Whiskey... and the singles for fuck’s sake, Alice Cooper was singing ballads! Sensitive ballads. Even if I do have soft spots for “Only Woman Bleed,” “I Never Cry” and “You and Me,” this was AM radio lovey-dovey stuff that could have been written by David fucking Gates coming from the coal-eyed ghoul with the snake ‘round his neck who’d given the world “Black JuJu,” “Dead Babies” and “The Ballad of Dwight Fry”!!! What gives?

Although I thought it was great when I was a kid, Welcome to My Nightmare is a really mediocre album. I listened to it recently and the only things I liked were the title song, the aforementioned sappy ballad and the one number that really rips on that album “Cold Ethyl,” which is absolutely fucking amazing. It’s tame, slick and uninteresting. Even backed by Lou Reed’s stellar Rock & Roll Animal band, these albums are a pale, pale version of what preceded them.

Now having said all that, I can forgive the lapse in musical quality and still enjoy “The Nightmare,” a late-night 1975 TV special that aired on ABC’s Wide World in Concert on its own terms (or at least on the terms that I first saw it on, as a wide-eyed nine-year-old Alice Cooper fanatic up well past his bedtime). It’s basically an extremely campy “rock opera” type treatment of Welcome to My Nightmare (itself a bit of a concept album to begin with, with a guy trapped in a bad dream he can’t escape from) with Cooper, Vincent Price (who is featured on the album prominently) and a variety of dancers, including Alice’s future wife, Cheryl. The former “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” the more mainstream-friendly, Muppet Show-appearing Alice was still a lot of fun at this point—for at least for a little while longer—so enjoy!

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Yearbook photos of Rock and Heavy Metal icons

The high school portrait is more for the benefit of the parents than the sitter. It presents an image of the little darlings as bright-eyed and winsome—beacons of success to parental concern. They rarely reveal much about who these young people are, or how they might end-up. The photos mislead, in the same way that manners and politeness are often misread as a sign of weakness, when in fact the opposite is true.

Take a look at these yearbook portraits of Rock and Heavy Metal icons, there’s hardly a hint of rock ‘n’ roll rebellion, or future excess, just the appearance of wannabe Wal-Mart employees of the month.

Top row: Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Tom Morello (RATM), Tom Araya (Slayer), Alice Cooper, Axl Rose (Guns ‘n’ Roses), Corey Taylor (Slipknot).

Middle row: Daron Malakian (SOAD), Dimebag Darrell (Pantera), Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen), Gene Simmons (Kiss), James Hetfield (Metallica), Jonathan Davis (Korn).

Bottom row: Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Marilyn Manson, Slash (Guns ‘n’ Roses), Steve Tyler (Aerosmith), Zakk Wylde (BLS).
H/T Jonny Geller, via History in Pictures

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘Black Juju’: Mind-bending early Alice Cooper performance
05:47 pm


Alice Cooper

In Bobcat Goldthwait’s delightfully violent 2011 comedy, God Bless America, Roxy, the homicidal teenager played by Tara Lynne Barr, goes off on an epic Tarantino-esque rant about the titanic greatness of Alice Cooper that begins:

“You don’t ‘like’ Alice Cooper, Frank… that’s like a Muslim saying he ‘likes’ Mohamed”

By the time she was finished, I wanted to stand up in the cinema and cheer. YES!

I love Alice Cooper, but the band, not so much the frontman with the same name. I lose interest pretty quickly after Welcome to My Nightmare, but Alice Cooper the group, well, they’re one of my top, top, top favorite acts of all time. Alice Cooper will probably never be fashionable or cool again, but fuck it, they were great and this extended clip of them on Barry Richard’s Turn On, a local Washington, DC “free form” rock show, circa, 1971, is proof of how utterly mind-bogglingly brilliant they were in their prime.

They do “I’m Eighteen” and a killer take on “Black Juju.”

If there’s ONE Alice Cooper song I’d want to see an extended vintage performance of, it would be “Black Juju,” hands down. This clip does not disappoint. Trust me, you’ll love it to death.

This material and a lot more from Barry Richards’ personal archive can be purchased on DVD as Turn-On, Groove-In, Rock Out! The Barry Richards TV Collection Vol. 1 put out by Resurrection Productions.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Alice Cooper wants to take you into an Asylum: Vintage interview from 1978

Alice Cooper was described as “a violent and evil influence on the nation’s youth,” when he toured Britain in 1973. The dread Cooper inspired led six Members of Parliament to petition the Prime Minister to refuse the singer permission to enter the country. The petition failed.

Then, Mary Whitehouse, doyen of minding-other people’s business, campaigned to have Alice Cooper’s records banned by the BBC. Mrs. Whitehouse also failed, and “School’s Out” went to number one in the UK charts.

The fear of Alice Cooper and his like, led many on the Right to believe the end of civilization was nigh. Hard to believe now, but back then with a 3-day-working week, nation-wide power cuts, food shortages, rising unemployment, a failing economy, and an incompetent Conservative Prime Minister, there were those amongst the Establishment who considered a “Boy’s Own” military coup over their “salmon and lamb cutlets.”

Nothing happened, and Alice Cooper successfully toured the UK. But the “pace” of touring, with its chaotic hotel-living, took a considerable tool, and Cooper became an alcoholic. By the time he returned to the U.K. in 1978, the singer was sober and seemingly “rehabilitated.”

This rare (flickering) interview from the BBC News and Current Affairs show Tonight, in December 1978, has the late Donald MacCormick quizzing Alice about the changes to his life, his new show, and album From the Inside, which was inspired by Cooper’s stay in a New York sanitarium to cure his alcoholism.

Previously on Dangerous MInds

Alice Cooper: Certificate of Insanity

Through A Glass Darkly: Malcolm Lowry, Booze, Literature and Writing

With thanks to NellyM!

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Pretty for You: Alice Cooper’s unisex ‘Whiplash Mascara,’ 1973
11:10 am


Alice Cooper

“Alice says: Whip the one you love—get a tube for for your best friend too!”

Via Cherrybombed

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Alice Cooper: Certificate of Insanity

The Alice Cooper Certificate of Insanity (issued by the School for the Hopelessly Insane) was a limited edition document given away free with Cooper’s album From the Inside, in 1978. Whether this was a recommendation or, a comment on the quality of the record, was never made clear. What is known is that rather like the source for Malcolm Lowry’s excellent novella Lunar Caustic, Cooper’s album was similarly inspired by the singer’s stint in a New York sanitarium for his alcoholism.

From the Inside was co-written with Elton John’s song-writing partner, Bernie Taupin.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Through a Glass Darkly: Malcolm Lowry, Booze, Literature and Writing


Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Alice Cooper’s unused 1974 James Bond theme
01:43 pm


Alice Cooper
James Bond

Alice Cooper’s pretty awful attempt at a title tune for the James Bond film, The Man With The Golden Gun, was given to Bond producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, but they chose instead to go with Lulu’s far more lascivious number, the raunchiest of all the Bond themes.

I think they made the right call. Some people hate the Lulu song, but it’s one of my top favorites, up there with Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger” and Tom Jones belting out “Thunderball.”

“The Man With The Golden Gun” would appear on the final Alice Cooper group album, 1974’s equally tired Muscle of Love.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Thunderball’ opening credits with the theme song that Johnny Cash submitted

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Easy listening medley of Hawkwind, T-Rex and Alice Cooper by The James Last Orchestra, 1973

I could hear this playing in the other side of the house on my wife’s computer. “It isn’t?”

Oh, but IT IS: Mr. Dante Fontana of Mod Cinema has posted this clip of fab German bandleader James Last and his Orchestra performing an indescribably great medley of Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine,” “Children Of The Revolution” by T-Rex and Alice Cooper’s anthem to juvenile delinquency, “Schools’ Out.”

How lucky are we that this clip exists in the world: The James fucking Last Orchestra playing a decidedly UN-IRONIC (but truly incredible) big band version of Hawkwind’s greatest hit in 1973??? I mean, for that alone, sign me up, but throw in T-Rex and Alice Cooper covers in this style, too? That’s a party. A voodoo party.

Dig the fashion-forward stripey shirt and tie combo on some of the band members. That look takes “power clashing” to a whole new level. Makes it into an art form.

This is heavenly and I think you’ll think so too!

Via Mod Cinema/WFMU


Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
It’s Not the Age, It’s the Mileage: Extreme close-up pics of aging rock stars

Talk about yer strolling bones…

To be fair to these aging rockers, anyone, and I mean anyone over the age of 40 would look unsightly photographed this close-up.

John Lydon
More after the jump…

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Black Juju: Alice Cooper at his most evil, live 1971
10:56 am


Alice Cooper

The famous “Detroit Tubeworks” bootleg is 25 minutes of seminal, early Alice Cooper footage shot at the WABX television studios in 1971. I can recall getting my eager mitts on a VHS tape of this in the late 80s and feeling like I possessed something more valuable than gold…

At 16:16 minutes in, they do an astonishing version of “Black Juju.” WHY were these degenerates ever allowed entry into cities across America? If Richard Nixon was so afraid of Timothy Leary, you’d think he’d have wanted to have Alice Cooper assassinated! Hard to believe that Alice is now a rightwing Christian after watching this clip!


Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Alice Cooper performs ‘Black Juju’ at Midsummer Rock Festival 1970

Alice Cooper performs “Black Juju” during the Midsummer Rock Festival on June 13, 1970 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cooper claims Pink Floyd as an early influence on his music and it certainly can be seen in this video, which has never been officially released on VHS or DVD.

At the 4 minute mark watch as Cooper gets hit by an upside-down pineapple cake.

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Turn-On, Groove-In, Rock Out! The Barry Richards TV Collection Vol. 1
02:21 pm

Pop Culture

Alice Cooper
Barry Richards

DM readers, if you’re looking for a way to spend that Christmas money burning a hole in your pocket, I have a really good suggestion for you: Turn-On, Groove-In, Rock Out! The Barry Richards TV Collection Vol. 1 put out recently on DVD by Resurrection Productions. I don’t recommend it lightly, I recommend it very highly. It’s a great value too, with nearly three hours of primo rock-n-roll footage that had been stored in a garage for years, unseen. For a certain type of rock snob, this 2 disc set is heaven.

To be honest, I never heard of Barry Richards, but the DVDs provide instant context for his fascinating four-decade-long career in broadcasting: Richards was a well-known rock jock and concert promoter in the Washington DC metro area in the 1960s, 70s and 80s and he also hosted a number of “free form” TV shows on local UHF TV stations. This 2 disc set is packed to the gills with clips from these shows, featuring an amazing early Alice Cooper performance (they do “Black Juju,” which is THE Alice Copper song, I personally would want to see them perform live, you might agree with me), Richie Havens, Little Richard, a fantastic set from Muddy Waters, Jamul, Humble Pie, The Bob Seeger System, Crow, Rory Gallagher, The Illusion, Fats Domino/The Byrds and Tommy Bolin’s first band, Zephyr. Along with the musical performances—always live, never lip-synced—were goofy, innocent segments taped with local high school students and long forgotten acts like comedian “Uncle Dirty” and Iron Jaw Samson, a fellow who ate light-bulbs. There are also 2 hours of audio only segments with the Beatles, Flash Gordon actor Buster Crabbe, comedy troupe The Ace Trucking Company (where Fred Willard got his start) and others.

What’s so amazing about these vintage performances (aside from the music itself, of course) is the journey from the wholesome B&W 60s era segments to the more, um, decadent era of the 70s clips. It’s pretty insane to see how quickly American teenagers grew out their hair (and beards) and took up pot smoking, and that happens pretty much right before your eyes with The Barry Richards TV Collection Vol. 1. (Just as quickly, the disco era takes over and Richards goes on to Studio 78 his disco show (which is not included here).

Below is a a brief sampling of the treasure trove you’ll find on Turn-On, Groove-In, Rock Out! The Barry Richards TV Collection Vol. 1 available only from Resurrection Productions.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
More excellent cassette tape art from Sami Havia

Alice Cooper
Here is some more of that excellent “cassette art” (as used on the Aphex Twin post just below) by the Finnish artist Sami Havia. Sami’s website is here, but these are the only other examples I could find of this style, and they’re taken from the Today And Tomorrow blog. Maybe if we ask nicely he will start making more?

DJ Shadow

2 Unlimited

Public Enemy


Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Page 1 of 2  1 2 >