Poster for Alice Cooper’s 1982 French tour
Though the man himself doesn’t remember much of it, heavy Alice fans of my acquaintance adore his new wave period. It’s been some years since I worked in a record store, but I bet you can still pick up most of these albums for a song: Flush the Fashion, where AC out-Numans Numan on “Clones”; Special Forces, the one with the manic cover of Love’s “7 And 7 Is”; Zipper Catches Skin, where Alice’s dead dog comes back to life to save him from getting run over by a truck; and the no-shit start-to-finish masterpiece DaDa, which reunited the singer with writing partner Dick Wagner and producer Bob Ezrin.
To promote the French leg of the Special Forces tour, Alice and band filmed this hourlong TV special in France. Roughly the first two-thirds consists of promo films they made on the cheap in the Republic’s wrecking yards, escalators, Métro stations and meat lockers. Then, after a gag “interview” by a really familiar French journalist named “Vincent Furnier,” there follows a TV studio recreation of the Alice Cooper live experience as it was in 1982.
To be sure, these are not the definitive versions of classics like “Generation Landslide” and “Eighteen.” However, I think this video for “Clones,” filmed in front of a heap of junked cars with the band holding a bedsheet and AC wrapped in duct tape, lays waste to the official one they made with a smoke machine, a wardrobe and a second camera. And director Agnès Delarive’s sequencing and setting of “Cold Ethyl” and “Only Women Bleed” is inspired.
Skeleton Alice and his ‘82 band mime “Model Citizen” in a Métro station
If you’re wondering why Alice looks like a moldering cadaver in this footage, check out Supermensch, the documentary about the improbable life of manager Shep Gordon that’s still streaming on Netflix. There (unless it’s Super Duper Alice Cooper I’m thinking of), Alice is pretty open about the cubic miles of freebase smoke he was sucking down during the early ‘80s. (Wisely, Gordon stuck to slam-dancing with Mr. Greenjeans, as I’m sure he affirms in his new memoir, They Call Me Supermensch. “Let’s burn another one soon, Shep,” ends Willie Nelson’s blurb.)
The track list:
“Generation Landslide ‘81” (0:45)
“Under My Wheels” (3:55)
“7 And 7 Is” (13:24)
“Prettiest Cop on the Block” (16:07)
“Model Citizen” (19:15)
“Cold Ethyl” (21:54)
“Only Women Bleed” (24:48)
“Go to Hell” (27:40)
“Vicious Rumors” (31:48)
“Billion Dollar Babies” (39:43)
“School’s Out” (42:37)
“Who Do You Think We Are” (45:23)