Easy Action Era

Easy Action is the 2nd Alice Cooper Group album and was released in 1970. It’s noticeably more refined than Pretties For You, with the songs and lyrics generally being more conventional. However, it’s still prone to fits of intriguing obscurity, which probably explains why it again failed to achieve any notable commercial or critical success. The foundations of success were clearly being laid though, with turning fortunes just round the corner…

 

Read my review of this album here.

Easy Action 12" Promotional Vinyl Album

1970, Straight Records, WS 1845

This USA 12" promotional vinyl album comes in a gatefold sleeve and features the classic image of a topless Alice Cooper Group with their backs turned away from the camera (which, combined with the group's name, was clearly designed to trick people into thinking they were a bunch of topless girls!). Inside are some portrait black-and-white images of each group member (with Alice featured twice, complete with added artistic effects, in another demonstration of his increased prominance even at an early stage).

 

On the rear of the sleeve is a colour image of a fully clothed, front facing, Alice Cooper Group in full glam regalia! One notable aspect is that the last 2 tracks (Beautiful Flyaway and Lay Down And Die, Goodbye) are presented in an incorrect order. They are correct on the vinyl label, however.  

 

As this is a promotional copy, it includes white 2nd generation Straight vinyl labels and an additional DJ timing strip on the front of the sleeve, which provides the track titles and durations of every song together with the total running time of each side of the album.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album

1970, Straight Records, WS 1845

This USA 1st pressing of Easy Action is almost identical to the promotional copy (above) but instead features pink 2nd generation Straight vinyl labels and no DJ timing strip. The last 2 tracks (Beautiful Flyaway and Lay Down And Die, Goodbye) are again presented in an incorrect order.

 

What makes this particular copy unique though is that the front cover is subject to a printing oversight / error, with 'Alice Cooper' presented in inconspicuous black and red font, rather than the intended black and white. This was rectified on subsequent copies (see below), and it is not known how many of these versions were produced, but the numbers are thought to be quite low, making this a sought after item.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album

1970, Straight Records, WS 1845

This USA 1st pressing of Easy Action comes in gatefold format on the Straight label and features 2nd generation Straight vinyl labels. Unlike the above version, this sees 'Alice Cooper' on the front cover presented in the more prominent intended black and white font.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Zapped 12" Vinyl Album

1970, Bizarre Records, Pro 368

The Alice Cooper Group signed to record producer Frank Zappa's Straight label in 1968, with their first album (Pretties For You) following a year later.  In 1970, around the time that Easy Action was released, Zappa released the promotional sampler Zapped. This record featured music from his signed artists including Zappa himself, Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band, Tim Buckley, The GTO's and, of course, Alice Cooper (the featured tracks being Titanic Overture and Reflected, both from Pretties For You).

 

In addition to Straight, Zappa had another label called Bizarre. As the names suggest, Straight was designed for his more mainstream artists wheras Bizarre was the home to some of his more obscure acts. One might argue that Alice Cooper being signed to Straight was (pardon the pun) rather bizarre but it was clear that Zappa, even at this early stage, saw the potential commercial success that the Group might achieve. Zapped featured artists from both labels yet only featured the distinctive blue Bizarre labels on the Vinyl itself.

 

Zapped was not available in stores, instead fans had to send a mere $1 dollar in the post with it turning up several weeks later. Clearly, this album was not a profitable venture but it's value to Zappa was that it presented a platform for him to showcase his artists to fans that may otherwise never get to discover them.

 

Zapped was produced with 2 cover variants, mine features a portrait picture of Zappa wheras the alternative featured a collage design (see image below). My version features a simple card sleeve, the vinyl is contained within a paper sleeve which includes some of Zappa's principles towards record production.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Alternative Collage Cover

Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album

1971, Bizarre Records, WS 1845

This is one of the most infamous and sought-after of Alice Cooper items. The reason for this is that, whilst the sleeve is identical to the more common USA Straight-labelled copy of the same code (see above), the vinyl features blue Bizarre labels. Alice Cooper was signed to Frank Zappa's Straight label, not his Bizarre sister-label, so this is a genuine anomoly.

 

Various stories exist regarding how this occured and how many copies exist. One plausible explanation is that, during the pressing of Easy Action, a number of records were accidentally stamped with Bizarre labels that were supposed to be used on a different release. This may, possibly, have been a result of confusion brought about by the fact that Alice Cooper appeared on the Bizarre-labelled Zapped album (above). It should be remembered at this point that this is the same manufacturer that managed to get the order of the last 2 tracks in the wrong order on the back of the album sleeve!

 

One suspects that this error was identified fairly quickly with most the mis-printed stock removed and destroyed. Clearly though, some made it out of the factory and into record stores. Exactly how many is unknown but, given the very small number that come up for sale, I suspect that there may be less than 50 doing the rounds. The funny thing is that some may still be sat in people's attics or in car boot sales. For those in the know though, they are able to command many hundreds of dollars to the right buyer!

 

My copy was purchased on eBay from the son of Glenn Danzig no less (allegedly). The seller was able to provide the following information on the origin of this record for me:

 

I got this from Natalie Natero, who passed away in 2007.  She was a big Alice Cooper fan and also dated me and my father (true story)!  I got this back in 1999 as a Christmas gift.

 

This copy is in truly excellent condition with minimal wear-and-tear to the sleeve. The vinyl is in perfect condition and plays beautifully (before you ask, yes it does actually feature the music from Easy Action).

 

This record came in at Number 4 on a list of the top 5 rarest Alice Cooper group vinyl releases (the rest all being early single releases). 

 

For more information on this most collectable of items, visit this excellent Facebook page!  At the time of writing, only ~12 copies of this album (including mine) have been accounted for. Two of the most recent copies to come up for sale, in February 2016 and June 2020, sold for whopping totals of $665 and $750 respectively (see images below).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

eBay auction for same record in February 2016
eBay auction for same record in June 2020

Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album

1970, Warner Brothers, WS 1845

This Canadian 1st pressing of Easy Action is identical to the Straight USA version (above) with the exception that it features distinctive gold Warner Brothers vinyl labels. These were used on Warner Brothers albums up until the late 60's (Easy Action was recorded in 1969, so appears to have just made the cut) prior to the change to their iconic olive green labels.  

 

Other than this release, and somewhat randomly, this style of label is believed to have only been seen again on Mexican pressings of Killer, School's Out and Billion Dollar Babies.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album

1970, Straight Records, STS 1061

This UK 1st pressing of Easy Action features an alternative Straight logo on the front and back compared to the USA version (above) and reconfigured 2nd generation Straight vinyl labels. Also, the rear of the sleeve has some additional text from the manufacturer added at the bottom.

 

Unlike the USA and Canadian versions, UK owners were also treated to the final 2 tracks being presented in the correct order on the sleeve.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album

2009, Rhino Records, WS 1845

Picking up a decent condition vinyl copy of Easy Action, at a good price, is not easy. Thankfully, Rhino Records re-issued the album in the USA on chunky 180 gram vinyl in 2009.

 

This is a rather basic reproduction, with a simple card sleeve in place of the original gatefold design. Additionally, the vinyl labels feature the latter Warner Brothers Palm Tree design. Nevertheless, this, or one of the subsequent re-issues (below), are definitely worth obtaining to use as a playable copy of this iconic album.

 

This copy has the incorrect track listing from the original vinyl release (above) on the back of the sleeve.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album

2009, Rhino Records, WS 1845

This further 'Collectors Limited Edition' USA vinyl re-issue of Easy Action by Rhino Records is the same as the above version only it features an alternative hype sticker on the front and an opaque pink marble effect disc.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album

2009, Rhino Records, WS 1845

This further USA vinyl re-issue of Easy Action by Rhino Records is excatly the same as the above version only that it features an opaque green marble effect disc instead.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album

2018, Rhino Entertainment, RCV1 1845

This 140 gram vinyl version of Easy Action was released in January 2018 at the same time as additional releases of Killer and Welcome To My Nightmare. Each featured different colour vinyl and production numbers with this one pressed in opaque gold and being limited to 4,600 units worldwide.

 

Unlike the above re-issues of Easy Action this version retains the gatefold design of the original album but, interestingly, does correct the track listing error on the back of the sleeve. Also, this version features the classic green Warner Brothers vinyl stickers.

 

Unfortunately, this version will forever be notable for one reason. It was discovered just 6 days before release date (Friday 26th January 2018) that all 4,600 units had accidentally been pressed with the music of the Killer release. To make matters worse, all the Killer vinyls (5,200 in number) were pressed with Easy Action music resulting in 9,800 faulty products. Doh!

 

Upon idenifying this issue a recall letter was quickly issued to retailers (see example image below), but it didn't stop several making their way out of shops. Nobody knows how many people obtained them but these will probably become quite sought after, as this is a curious error. In the case of this album, the error is highly ironic given the legendary Bizarre version of Easy Action (see below).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

NOTE: Further vinyl copies of this album are featured in the Compilations section of this website.

Easy Action CD Album

1989, Rhino, 81227 99270

This European CD version of Easy Action comes in a jewel case and features a very basic fold-out booklet containing artwork from the original vinyl release (above). Unlike the original vinyl release, the CD version has the correct track order listed on the back. Interestingly though, the CD features the black and red font of the misprinted USA vinyl release (above) rather than the 'correct' black and white font.
 
Discogs Link: Click Here

Easy Action 'Mini LP' SHM CD Album

2011, Warner Brothers, WPCR-14300

In 2011, all the Alice Cooper albums from Pretties For You through to From The Inside were re-issued in Japan on 'Super High Material' (SHM) CD format. SHM CD's are, apparently, made of improved material, that provides a clearer medium for the reading of the data and so reduces read errors and thus can improve sound quality.

 

A notable feature of all the SHM releases is that they closely replicate the original packaging of the vinyl releases. In the case of Easy Action, this is a fairly basic gatefold sleeve, so this is obviously reflected here (including the incorrect order of the track listing). An additional black-and-white bilingual lyric booklet and external 'Obi Strip' are also provided (both of which are common features of Japanese music releases). 

 

What would have been really cool though is if they had made the CDs look more like minature vinyl discs. What is offered is still more than satisfactory though and the SHM releases are definitely the quintessential Alice Cooper CD editions of all the available variants out there.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

NOTE: Further CD copies of this album are featured in the Compilations and The Studio Albums 1969-1983 sections of this website.

Shoe Salesman 7" Promotional Vinyl Single

1970, Warner Brothers, 7398

This USA promotional 7" vinyl single features white Warner Brothers labels and includes Shoe Salesman on Side A and Return Of The Spiders on Side B (both from the Easy Action album).

 

Each label includes an 'Intro' time, which helped DJs to understand how long they had to introduce a song prior to the lyrics beginning. For some reason, this wasn't enough for the DJ that used to have this copy as exactly the same timings are hand-written on both labels. Side B has a few other hand-written markings ("C-268" and "X"), but I've no idea what they mean.

 

Finally, a notable feature of this release is that Glen Buxton is shockingly reffered to as 'Glen Baxton' on the labels! I think it's fair to say that the Easy Action era was the most cursed for unfortunate pressing errors!

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Shoe Salesman 7" Vinyl Single

1970, Warner Brothers, 7398

This rare Canadian 7" vinyl single features green Warner Brothers labels (the first Alice Cooper single to do so), comes in a Warner Brothers paper sleeve, and includes Shoe Salesman on Side A and Return Of The Spiders on Side B (both from the Easy Action album).

 

There appears to be confusion about whether this is a promotional or commercial release. However, there is nothing printed on the labels to suggest that it is a promotional copy so I'm working on the basis that it is a stock copy.

 

As with the USA promotional copy (above) Glen Buxton is reffered to as 'Glen Baxton' on the labels!

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Radio Spots For Easy Action 7" Promotional Vinyl

1970, Warner Brothers, Pro 392

This USA promotional 7" vinyl features white Warner Brothers labels, a Warner Brothers paper sleeve, and includes 2 identical 60 second 'Radio Spots' for the Easy Action album on both Sides A and B. Radio Spots were basically audio adverts that were given to DJs by music labels in order to promote their latest releases between songs.

 

A transcript for the 2 Radio Spots included on this release is provided below:

 

Radio Spot 1

 

Music: Return of the Spiders

 

Pssstt, wanna cop some easy action hmmm? Alice Cooper’s ready!  She prettied for you before on Straight Records, now Alice Cooper’s 2nd LP offering, Easy Action. Just to shake your jaded musical lust.

 

Alice Cooper comes on really strong. Easy Action by Alice Cooper on Straight Records. Alice Cooper a mental ordanente(?) that lasts!

 

Radio Spot 2

 

Music: Mr and Misdemeanor

 

Alice Cooper, such a lovely child. Pity though, she’s so violent. Alice Cooper is unisex, raw, together and violent, just like you fellow American. Because there’s a little bit of Alice cooper in us all!

 

Now look, you wouldn’t really want to take a thing like Alice Cooper home to mother would you? Alice Cooper, their new album Easy Action, all for you on, you’ll forgive the word, Straight Records!

 

A Radio Spots release also exists for the Love It To Death album.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Easy Action Pressing Errors Summary

To summarise the information above, the Easy Action era was subject to the following pressing errors...

 

Error 1 (1970)*: Misprinted front cover (black and red 'Alice Cooper' font instead of black and white);

 

Error 2 (1970)*: Misprinted rear cover (Beautiful Flyaway and Lay Down And Die, Goodbye) presented in incorrect order;

 

Error 3 (1970)*: Vinyl stamped with incorrect blue Bizarre labels*;

 

Error 4 (2018): Vinyl pressed with music of Killer; and

 

Error 5 (1970): Glen Buxton spelt 'Glen Baxton' on all 4 different pressings.  

 

*Pressings with errors 1 and 3 all include error 2 as well.

For the Love It To Death era click here.