Billion Dollar Babies
1976 to 1977
Following the split of the original Alice Cooper group in the early 1970's, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith formed a new group alongside Bob Dolin and Mike Marconi. With the name of the orginal group already taken by their former lead singer, the new band instead adopted the title of their most successful album (Billion Dollar Babies). Glen Buxton was not involved in this project due to his well known health issues at the time.
Billion Dollar Babies, Battle Axe 12" Vinyl Album
1977, Polydor, PD-1-6100
Sadly, Billion Dollar Babies only released one album, 1977's Battle Axe, and also only managed to perform a handful of live shows to promote its release. The underlying reason for their failure to succeed was undoubtably the absence of Alice, however, their demise was expedited by an unfortunate issue with the original pressing of the vinyl album and the tour being cut short due to cashflow problems. This is a real shame as Battle Axe is a pretty good album and proof that the original band members had plenty to offer still (we knew that already, of course).
In keeping with the low budget, the vinyl album comes in a simple card sleeve and features pictures of the band members on the back. Perfectly functional but very different to the lavish albums that the Alice Cooper group were renowned for.
Billion Dollar Babies didn't stick around for long but Battle Axe is a bit of a hidden gem and well worth hunting out.
Billion Dollar Babies, Rock 'N' Roll Radio 7" Promotional Vinyl Single
1977, Polydor, PD-14394
Billion Dollar Babies released 2 singles from the Battle Axe album, Rock 'N' Roll Radio and Too Young, both of which are featured below.
This USA promotional 7" vinyl single features white Polydor labels, comes in a Polydor paper sleeve, and includes Mono and Stereo versions of Rock 'N' Roll Radio on Sides A and B respectively. This was a common feature of promotional singles at the time, as it enabled radio stations to play songs on both AM (Mono) and FM (Stereo) stations.
Billion Dollar Babies, Rock 'N' Roll Radio 7" Vinyl Single
1977, Polydor, PD-14394
This USA 7" vinyl single features red Polydor labels, and includes Rock 'N' Roll Radio on Side A and Wasn't I The One on Side B.
Billion Dollar Babies, Too Young 7" Promotional Vinyl Single
1977, Polydor, PD-14406
This USA promotional 7" vinyl single features white Polydor labels, and includes Mono and Stereo versions of Too Young on Sides A and B respectively.
Billion Dollar Babies, Complete Battle Axe CD Album
2001, NMC Music, 800945 007726
Although the original vinyl version of Battle Axe (above) can still be found quite easily, there has sadly never been an official release on CD. However, in 2001 this excellent (but by all counts, totally unauthorised) triple CD set was offered by NMC Music. This really is a treasure trove of material with owners getting the original 12 tracks from Battle Axe on CD 1, 11 demos on CD 2 and 10 tracks from their first ever live show in Flint, Michigan in 1977 (including some Alice Cooper group songs). Some of the recordings are a bit hit or miss but it's great to be able to hear this music.
Also included in the set is an exellent booklet, which includes a biography, concert photos, an interview with Michael Bruce and a foreword by Carlton Sandercock.
Alice Cooper Touring Band (1996 to 2001 and 2012 to the Present)
Ryan Roxie is one of the current guitarists in Alice's touring band, having previously been a member in the late 90's / early 00's. He has also played for a number of bands including Electric Angels and Slash's Snakepit.
Ryan is also an accomplished singer songwriter and formed his own band, Roxie 77, in between his spells with Alice (to date, there has been an album and an EP released). In 2018 Ryan released his first solo album, Imagine Your Reality, which is an excellent collection of hard rock songs (my personal favourites being To Live And Die In L.A. and Me Generation.
Ryan filled in for Glen Buxton during the legendary Live From The Astroturf reunion of the Alice Cooper Group at Good Records, Dallas in 2015.
Humanary Stew, A Tribute To Alice Cooper CD Album
1999, Eagle Records, EAGCD062
Humanary Stew is an 11-track Alice Cooper tribute album featuring songs between the Love It To Death and Goes To Hell eras. A high profile cast appears on the songs including Joe Elliott, Dave Mustaine, Ronnie James Dio, Slash, Bruce Dickinson and Dee Snider, who all provide their personal twists to the songs. What results is an interesting, but unessential, release (as they were never going to top the original).
This album has been re-released a few times under different names (i.e. Welcome To The Nightmare and A Salute To Alice Cooper) with up-to 3 bonus tracks (Under My Wheels, Bed Of Nails and Roses On White Lace).
Alice Cooper Touring Band (2003 to the Present)
Chuck Garrick is the charismatic current bassist for Alice's touring band. Prior to this, he played for a number of bands including L.A. Guns and Dio.
In 2013 Chuck formed the band Beasto Blanco. Unlike his appearances with Alice and the rest of the band, he is the star of the show here, providing lead vocals whilst also playing guitar. He also makes good use of his Alice Cooper connections, with fellow band member Tommy Henriksen producing the music and Alice's eldest daughter (Calico Cooper) and drummer (Glen Sobel) guesting on some tracks.
The result is a hard rocking sound with tracks that, quite literally, kick your ass! To date, the band have released 4 albums (3 studio and 1 live) and have performed live dates at numerous intimate venues. Stand out tracks from the first album (Live Fast Die Loud) include Beasto Blanco and Blood Shot, whereas Buried Angels and I See You In It are notable rockers from the 2nd (Beasto Blanco) and 3rd (We Are) studio albums respectively.
The self-titled 2nd album is also notable as it includes a cool high-octane cover of Alice's hit single Feed My Frankenstein.
Beasto Blanco, Live Fast Die Loud CD Album
2013, Rat Pak Records, 638647 802925
Beasto Blanco, Beasto Blanco CD Album
2016, Rat Pak Records, RPR603076
Beasto Blanco, Live From Berlin CD Album
2017, Rat Pak Records, RPR603091
Beasto Blanco, We Are CD Album
2019, Rat Pak Records, RPR603108
Alice Cooper Touring Band (2011 to the Present)
Tommy Henriksen is one of the current guitarists in the both Alice's touring band and the Hollywood Vampires. He is also a highly respected producer, mixer and singer songwriter and has worked for some of the industries major artists (including Ke$ha, Lady Gaga and Meat Loaf).
Tommy has released several solo albums since 1999, but it was Tommy, Tommy, Tommy (which came out in 2014) that really cemented him as a respected recording artist in his own right. Standout tracks from that album include Teenage Kicks Part 2, Give'm Hell, All My Heroes (which includes an Alice reference) and Mr Finn (which is dedicated to his son). Tommy, Tommy, Tommy was released under the Bellyache Records label and was made available on CD and black vinyl, which was limited to just 300 copies worldwide. All pre-orders from the label came with a set of button badges.
2017 saw the release of another acomplished solo album, Starstruck. This very much follows on in style from Tommy, Tommy, Tommy and includes the excellent tracks Punk City, Those Kids Are Alright and Famous. Startruck was also released under the Bellyache Records, who offered it on CD, 3 vinyl variants (black, green and white and all limited to just 100 copies worldwide) and cassette! All pre-ordered copies from the label were personally signed by Tommy and came with a set of guitar picks.
Tommy Henriksen, Tommy Henriksen CD Album
1999, Capitol Records, 724349 486324
Tommy Henriksen, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy CD Album
2014, Blue Martin Records, BLM 330518-2
Tommy Henriksen, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy 12" Vinyl Album
2015, Bellyache Records, BR-055
Tommy Henriksen, Starstruck Cassette Album
2017, Bellyache Records, BR-063
Tommy Henriksen, Starstruck CD Album
2017, Bellyache Records, BR-063
Tommy Henriksen, Starstruck 12" Vinyl Album
2017, Bellyache Records, BR-063
2010, Entertainment One, E051473)
This excellent documentary on the late, great, Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead features Alice as a guest 'talking head'. Alice's contributions aside, this is well worth checking out for any fan of rock-and-roll.
From Straight To Bizarre DVD
This excellent documentary takes a detailed look at the legendary Straight and Bizarre Records labels founded by American musician Frank Zappa in the late 60's. The Alice Cooper Group is featured in-depth, with Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith explaining (in all new interviews) how they came to sign for the Straight label and what ultimately led them to splitting with Zappa as their careers took off following the release of Love It To Death.
Also featured are clips of Living, Reflected, Levity Ball, Lay Down and Die Goodbye, Return Of The Spiders, I'm Eighteen and Ballad Of Dwight Fry.
I'm very grateful to hardcore Alice Cooper Group fan Chris Daniels for gifting me this copy. Chris has one of the finest collections of Alice Cooper related Straight and Bizarre records in the world and is therefore obviously a big admirer of this release.
Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon DVD
2014, Dogwoof, DOG307
Supermensch is an excellent documentary film by Mike Myers (of Wayne's World fame) about Alice's long-standing, larger-than-life, manager and friend Shep Gordon. As expected given their intertwined history, there is heavy Alice Cooper content with some fascinating insights covering the very early days of the Alice Cooper Group and their rise to fame. There is also some nice candid footage of Alice and Shep hanging out together.
The film features interviews with a host of stars including Shep himself, Alice, Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone and Mike Myers and is well worth checking out.
HBO Vinyl Blu-Ray
2016, HBO, 5051892 199858
Vinyl is an entertaining USA TV drama series created by Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, Rich Cohen and Terence Winter. It is set in 1970's New York, where a fictional record company (American Century Records) is struggling to adapt to changes in the music scene.
A number of high profile historical music icons are portrayed, including David Bowie, Elvis Presley and the Alice Cooper Group. The latter appears in episode 3, where attempts are made by an A&R rep to persuade Alice (played by Dustin Ingram) to sign as a solo artist. Thinking he's getting somewhere, he turns up at an Alice Cooper Group rehearsal only to find out that all the Group members know and that Alice is going nowhere. Alice then puts him in his guillotine and 'chops his head off' before dangling his own severed head in front of him. Great drama and you also get a chance to hear a cover of I Love The Dead.
Sadly, a second season was not commissioned but at least we have these 10 episodes to enjoy. It's well worth a purchase (and not just for the Alice Cooper content).
Alice Cooper Touring Band (2014 to the Present)
Nita Strauss is one of the current guitarists in the both Alice's touring band, replacing Orianthi Panagaris. Prior to this, Nita was best known as a member of the Iron Maiden all-female tribute group The Iron Maidens.
Although comparisons between Nita and Orianthi (the only other female musician to appear with Alice) were inevitable, they are notably different with Nita being more visably energetic and engaging with audiences. For this reason, she has become very popular with the Alice camp and fans.
For her first solo album Nita reached out for funding via the increasingly popular Kickstarter platform. This proved to be a resounding success with her target of $20,000 smashed 8 times over, with backers signing up for a host of cool incentives including signed CD and vinyl copies of the album, pizza with Nita and even a gust guitar solo for backer's own albums! Upon release, vinyl fans were also treated to a number of different exclusive variants from different sources (see images below).
Controlled Chaos is an excellent instrumental album featuring 11 mainly heavy tracks (my favourite of which is Alegria). In amongst the chaos, there are also some slower paced songs including the excellent Here With You and a cover of Queen's The Show Must Go On.