Originally Published: April 06, 1979
Author: Bob Abramowicz
One of the most elaborate rock productions to come to the Bay Area was recently staged at the Oakland Coliseum when Alice Cooper and an entourage of 33 people appeared in a theatrical rock show entitled "The Strange case of Patient #1111".
The stage, decorated like a ward inside a large and impersonal institution for the mentally insane, was the setting in which patient #1111 (Alice Cooper) vividly experiences the agonies, frustrations and withdrawals of an acute alcoholic going cold turkey. The portrayal isn't far from the truth.
Alice Cooper's serious bout with alcohol ended with his hospitalization (voluntarily). After his "rehabilitation", Cooper decided to tell the world about his personal experiences and got together with Bernie Taupin (of Elton John fame) to create a theatrical/musical statement.
The show started with an introduction by a nine-foot tall cyclops and a film (projected on a 40' x 40' breakaway screen) depicting a bottle assembly line inside a liquor processing plant. One bottle seems to be pushed out of line and falls on the conveyer belt. Simultaneously, Alice Cooper jumps through the large screen and lurks to the edge of the stage and begins singing "From the Inside".
This song, which is the title track from Cooper's latest Warner Brothers release by the same title, is a definitive statement. Complete with an uptempo piano introduction and an eerie guitar solo, the madman of rock and roll sings, "I got lost on the road somewhere. Was it Texas or was it Canada? Drinking whiskey on the morning light I work the stage all night long. At first we laughed about it, my long haired drunkenfriends. Proposed a toast to Jimmy's ghost. I never dreamed that I would wind up on the losing end....."
Perhaps the most compelling moment came when the stage darkened with one lonely spotlight focused on our patient #1111 as he sang the melancholy " Quiet Room". The song cocerns those padded cells where people with suicidal notions are placed.
Cooper, strapped in a straight jacket sings...
Cooper's vocal range has indeed increased. His voice has become a bit more subtle and full. Do I dare say it has become richer in tone? Perhaps it has.
One tune that certainly sent shock waves through the audience was "Millie and Billie" a tune that depicts the adventures of this twosome and horrible tale they remembered concerning the blatant act they performed.
These tunes and others can be found on Alice Cooper's album release "From the Inside" Warner Bros. Records (BSK 3263).
Looking beyond the theatrics, the visual representations and clever album packaging, Alice Cooper is quite truthful about his message to his fans. His graphic portrayal of conditions in mental hospitals, his personal triumph in beating the odds against alcohol abuse, and his musical frankness are all pluses.
Not withstanding the controversy that he creates wherever he and his entourage travel, Alice Cooper is honest with himself. And that is the measure of the man.
The "Madhouse Rock" has already played in 17 cities in the United States and is about to embark on a world tour.