Special Forces Era

Background

Special Forces is the 13th 'Alice Cooper' studio album and was released in 1981. The new album continued in a similar vein to the previous year's punk-heavy Flush The Fashion but with a military theme, underlined by custom logo, present, which broadly runs through the material and also carried into both Alice's outfits and the supporting tour.

 

Sadly, he was also at the start of his ill-fated descent into cocaine addiction and was already beginning to look noticeable gaunt. For this reason, Special Forces marks the beginning of his three-album 'Blackout' period, which he proclaims to have little or no memory of (although many fans, quite understandably, also include Flush The Fashion in this list).   

 

Much like the previous album, Special Forces has some really strong moments, but also suffers from notable bouts of mediocrity. Who Do You Think We Are, You Want It, You Got It and Vicious Rumours are full of attitude and hard-hitting guitar riffs. There is also the oddity that it is Generation Landslide ‘81 (Live), a re-boot of the classic Billion Dollar Babies track of the same name by the Alice Cooper Group, which is actually a studio track made out to sound live. For some reason, it works though, with Alice breathing new life into it with an edgy, snarling, interpretation.  

 

However, tracks like Seven & Seven Is (a song originally by the band Love, which was also covered by Alice's Hollywood Vampires in 2015), Prettiest Cop On The Block, Don't Talk Old To Me, Skeletons In The Closet, You Look Good In Rags and You're A Movie all fall slightly short of the mark, which no doubt contributed to the album being a commercial failure.

 

Special Forces will probably not make most fan's Top 5 albums list, but there is still plenty to enjoy for those who persevere.

Special Forces Album Cover
Special Forces Logo

Special Forces 12" Vinyl Album Test Pressing

1981, Warner Brothers, K56927

I stumbled across this super rare UK white label test pressing of Special Forces in a great shop in Exeter called Destiny One. You will probably see from the photos that it was described as 'Armed Forces' so I had to get the owner to play it so that I could hear the familiar sound of Who Do You Think We Are. Once verified, I was duty-bound to snap it up. The only other way to confirm the content is that the serial number of the original vinyl (K 56927) is etched on the inner edge of the vinyl.

 

It is understood that some acetate copies of Special Forces also exist and that these contain slightly different mixes of some songs. This is not the case with this test pressing though, which is identical to the final release. It also does not include Look At You Over There, Ripping The Sawdust From My Teddybear or the different track order stated on the rear of the original vinyl release (below).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Special Forces 12" Promotional Vinyl Album

1981, Warner Brothers, BSK 3581

This USA 12" promotional vinyl album comes in a simple card sleeve and features a portrait 'painting' of Alice, in all-new Special Forces regalia, resting on a floor behind two crossed, jewel encrusted, daggers. Also provided on the front cover is a large gold 'LOANED FOR PROMOTION ONLY...' stamp. On the rear of the sleeve is the same backdrop, but with the painting gone, daggers moved, and the iconic new 'Alice Cooper Special Forces' logo making its first appearance. Also provided on the back are track listings and credits, as no inner sleeve was produced for this album.

 

The disc features cream Warner Brother labels, which are identical to USA stock copies (i.e. the gold stamp on the front is the only way to differentiate promotional copies from stock copies).

 

Special Forces is rather unique in that it can be found with different track orders stated on the back. However, ALL versions feature the same actual order on the vinyl / cd etc. This version features the following, incorrect, order, with the actual order matching that of the CD version (below):

 

1. Who Do You Think We Are;
2. Seven And Seven Is;

3. Skeletons In The Closet;

4. You're A Movie;

5. You Want It, You Got It;
6. Vicious Rumours;

7. Prettiest Cop On The Block;
8. Generation Landslide '81 (Live);
9. You Look Good In Rags; and

10. Don't Talk Old To Me.
 

Also listed on the back is the 11th track 'Look At You Over There, Ripping The Sawdust From My Teddybear', but this isn't actually included as it was excluded at short notice. A demo version of this song was eventually included in the Life And Crimes Of Alice Cooper box set. This is considered to be the most likely reason why you find different track orders listed on some early copies, as the removal of Look At You Over There... may have resulted in a last-minute re-ordering of the remaining material.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Special Forces 12" Vinyl Album

1981, Warner Brothers, K56927

This UK vinyl version of Special Forces comes in a simple card sleeve and features a black vinyl disc complete with cream Warner Brothers labels. On the rear of the sleeve are track listings and credits.

 

This version features the same, incorrect, track order as the promotional vinyl copy (above) listed on the back.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Special Forces 12" Vinyl Album

2017, Rhino Entertainment, RCV 1 3581

This USA 140 gram vinyl re-issue of Special Forces features a simple card sleeve design (which closely resembles the original release, above) and a nice opaque blue vinyl. The disc features the white Warner Bros labels and was limited to 5,200 copies worldwide.  

 

It was released as part of the 2017 'Rocktober' event along with re-issues of Pretties For You and Love it To Death, all of which followed on from the 2016 Rocktober re-issue of Billion Dollar Babies.

 

This version features the same, correct, track order as the CD copy (below) listed on the back and also fully eliminates any reference to the removed track 'Look At You Over There, Ripping The Sawdust From My Teddybear' (i.e. no tacky splash of red where the title was previously provided).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Special Forces Cassette Album

1981, Warner Brothers, 456927

This hard-to-find European cassette version of Special Forces features a simple J-card containing abridged artwork, track listings and credits.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Special Forces CD Album

1981, Warner Brothers, 7599 26230 2

This European CD version of Special Forces comes in a jewel case and features a 10-page booklet containing track listings, lyrics and credits.

 

Special Forces is rather unique in that it can be found with different track orders stated on the back. However, ALL versions feature the same actual order on the vinyl / cd etc. This version features the following, correct, order:

 

1. Who Do You Think We Are;
2. Seven And Seven Is;
3. Prettiest Cop On The Block;
4. Don't Talk Old To Me;
5. Generation Landslide '81 (Live);
6. Skeletons In The Closet;

7. You Want It, You Got It;
8. You Look Good In Rags;
9. You're A Movie; and
10. Vicious Rumours.

 

If you look at the back cover, you will note an odd-looking splash of red under the final track. This reflects a rather lazy attempt to eliminate the title of an 11th track called 'Look At You Over There, Ripping The Sawdust From My Teddybear', which was named on the sleeve on original vinyl copies (above) but excluded at short notice. A demo version of this song was eventually included in the Life And Crimes Of Alice Cooper box set. This is considered to be the most likely reason why you find different track orders listed on some early copies, as the removal of Look At You Over There... may have resulted in a last-minute re-ordering of the remaining material.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

NOTE: A further CD copy of this album is included in 'The Studio Albums 1969-1983' boxset and can be seen here.

You Want It, You Got It 12" Promotional Vinyl Single

1981, Warner Brothers, PRO-A-971

This USA 12" promotional vinyl single comes in a generic card sleeve (with cut-out label hole), features cream Warner Brothers labels, and includes You Want It, You Got It on Side A and Who Do You Think You Are on Side B (both from the Special Forces album).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

You Want It, You Got It 7" Vinyl Single

1981, Warner Brothers, W17846

This Italian 7" vinyl single features cream Warner Brothers labels, comes in a paper sleeve, and includes You Want It, You Got It on Side A and Who Do You Think We Are on Side B (both from the Special Forces album).

 

The sleeve features a close-up image of the Special Forces album cover on the front, whereas on the back is promotional material for the same album.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

You Want It, You Got It 7" Vinyl Single

1981, Warner Brothers, WB 17846

This German 7" vinyl single features cream Warner Brothers labels, comes in a paper sleeve, and includes You Want It, You Got It on Side A and Who Do You Think We Are on Side B (both from the Special Forces album).

 

The sleeve features a close-up image of the Special Forces album cover on the front, whereas on the back is promotional material for other artists.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Who Do You Think We Are 7" Vinyl Single

1981, Warner Brothers, 17903

This French 7" vinyl single features cream Warner Brothers labels, comes in a paper sleeve, and includes Who Do You Think We Are on Side A and You Want It, You Got It on Side B (both from the Special Forces album). This is the reverse of the Italian and German 7" vinyl singles (above) and it is understood that only the French release had the tracks in this order.

 

Both the front and back sleeves feature the same graphics and image of Alice complete with choker and emblazoned leather jacket.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Who Do You Think We Are 12" Vinyl Single

1981, Warner Brothers, 26211

This French 12" vinyl single is exactly the same as the 7" version (above) expect that it features a card sleeve and, obviously, a larger vinyl disc.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Seven & Seven Is Live Version 7" Vinyl Single

1982, Warner Brothers, K17924

This UK 7" vinyl single features cream Warner Brothers labels, a gatefold sleeve, and includes live versions of Seven & Seven Is on Side A and Generation Landslide '81 on Side B (both from the Special Forces album). 

 

The sleeve features an image of a very gaunt-looking Alice performing live spread across the front and back and is repeated on the inside in portrait form. Also on the back is promotional material for the Greatest Hits album.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

1982, Warner Brothers, WB 17.924

Seven And Seven Is 7" Vinyl Single

This Dutch 7" vinyl single features cream Warner Brothers labels, comes in a paper sleeve, and includes Seven & Seven Is on Side A and the live track Generation Landslide '81 on Side B (both from the Special Forces album).

 

The sleeve features the same image as the Special Forces album cover on the front, whereas on the back is promotional material for the same album.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

For the 'For Britain Only' single Click Here.

For the 'Live At The Apollo, Glasgow' album Click Here.

For the Zipper Catches Skin era Click Here.