Huntsville Times

Originally Published: November 02, 1997

He's Live: Who Cares?

"A Fistful of Alice" Alice Cooper

Author: Dean Smallwood

In 1977, Warner Brothers released what it described in advertisements as the holy grail of hard-rock live albums, the first disc to attempt to capture the Alice Cooper concert experience. But "The Alice Cooper Show" was a dull, tedious exercise that was only a stopgap to put Cooper product on the shelves while the performer was in rehab for substance abuse. Cooper never endorsed the disc, a recording by his late-70s Vegas backup band.

The shock-rocker has enjoyed roller-coaster successes and failures since that peak decade, and after a brief fling with "mousse metal" in the late '80s (remember "Poison"?), Cooper's now in another career dip. He's wound up on a tiny independent label, and the quickest way to give his new home the rights to some of his most classic material is to release a live album, one Cooper claims is better than the '77 sham.

Well, he's right. The song selection and sound quality on "A Fistful of Alice" is far superior to its 20-year-old predecessor, which concentrated on the lackluster albums Cooper recorded after he fired his original band. On the new live disc, Cooper has gathered a talented band to slam out roaring versions of legendary staples such as "School's Out." "Billion Dollar Babies," and "Only Women Bleed", as well as more recent efforts like "Lost In America."

On the down side, we could live without the Rod Zombie remix of "Feed My Frankenstein" an obvious attempt to sound contemporary. And the lone new track "Is Anybody Home?" doesn't prove that Cooper has anything to contribute to the music scene in the new millennium. But while there's no real reason for today's casual music buyers to grab "A Fistful of Alice," Cooper's longtime fans will love it. Score: 3 1/2 out of 5.