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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
SUPER DUPER ALICE COOPER REVIEW 2014

 

SUPER DUPER ALICE COOPER

A Documentary by Banger Films

SHOCK RECORDS

MAY 26 2014

 

 

There’s a great documentary about Alice Cooper that will be made one day: one that really gets inside all the craziness and lifts the lid on the excess. There are two things that strike you about ‘Super Duper Alice Cooper’ on first viewing – the first is that Alice is certainly some of Rocks greatest subject matter, and the second is that this documentary is a largely sanitised and inoffensive telling of his story. It is also damn fine viewing.

 

If you love Alice then I guess there isn’t too much in ‘SDAC’ that will come as a surprise, though there are some interesting titbits here and there littered through the narrative, the magic though here is in the telling mainly by the man himself, but also by some of the major players in the story.

 

Where the documentary is most solid is on the really early days, and it’s both interesting to watch the early footage and hear the stories of the band’s (Alice was the band in those days) rather rapid rise to fame. Throughout there’s some rather cool narrative devices too like ‘silent movie captions’ referencing Jekyll and Hyde and some cool animated photo stills that swoop you into the scenes.

 

It’s always clear who is in control though with Alice’s voice the most dominant narrative, we see a sick kid move from Detroit to Phoenix and formative influences that back up quickly – the art of Dali and surrealism and the revolution that was The Beatles. We cut quickly to LA and the madness and the acid, then the drinking starts and it seems on the footage that a beer is never far from Alice’s hand as the band climbs from one in ten thousand ‘wannabes’ in LA to  taking Festival stages prior to that first big single ‘I’m Eighteen’.

 

After finding Bob Ezrin in Canada, oddly the documentary barely mentions an album title and we progress through to the split up of the band ‘Alice Cooper’ with a quick gloss over all the great albums from ‘Love it to Death’ to ‘Muscle of Love’ through ‘Killer’, ‘Schools Out’ and of course ‘Billion Dollar Babies’. It’s great to hear tracks from my favourite Cooper album ‘Love it to Death’ featured so prominently in the soundtrack though.

 

If  you are looking for insights rather than chronological details then you came to the wrong documentary as the film offers little to explain the split (Vince blames ‘Alice’ the band sort of shrug and blame fame), it is consistent though as it does little to explain the drink or the coke either. And it’s that lack of insight leaves you feeling hungry, but you don’t get fed.   

 

Cooper solo looks like a disaster waiting to happen, as we said there’s little footage without a beer in Alice’s hand and on some of the archival footage he looks rather ‘under the weather’. Later on vintage talk-show footage reveals a confident yet fragile Alice, quick with the wisecrack, but never far from the liquid crutch.

 

Of course it gets worse. In ’78 Alice looks lean and well, free of the booze, but there’s the spectre of cocaine just around the corner. By 1981’s ‘Special Forces’ he looks pale, withered and aged twenty years all in the space of three years (oddly “Special Forces; is another of my favourite Alice moments). Before that we witness the excess and the highlife with Alice perched on Rolls Royces and a life in Beverly Hills; we see Alice the crooner, the celeb, the golfer all before the fall. And then for the second time he’s saved… by God.

 

The documentary almost completely tails off post Alice’s 80’s rebirth though the 1985 MTV live show. It’s as if the last thirty years never happened and the lives of the protagonists are shared in a few sentences. Part of the enduring appeal of Cooper is that he hit bottom and lived to tell the tale, his career sunk without a trace and now he again tours the world. I feel a second act coming on that may be just as interesting, if a little less dramatic, than the first. When we met the man a few years back he was all you would expect, charming, intelligent and self-effacingly funny. I even blame Alice for my golf habit…

 

Now that it’s OK to have Alice in your room, on your TV and one the radio, you can appreciate that the documentary glosses over the depth to which Alice fell with the drink and the drugs. At the same time of course that allows it to avoid criticism of getting all preachy when Alice pulls through. And of course we all know the story has a happy ending but watching this it’s clear it all could have been so different.  

 

‘Super Duper Alice Cooper’ is a fascinating insight and a must for fans and even those just interested in a look at a remarkable talent and life.

 

 

by Mark Diggins

 

SUPER DUPER ALICE COOPER REVIEW 2014