Melody Maker

Originally Published: April 14, 1973

Killer comes home!

The 18th concert in Alice Cooper's record-breaking U.S. tour was in Alice's home town - Detroit. Everyone was there to welcome their favourite son . . . including Alice's Mom.

Author: Loraine Alterman

Alice Cooper and Howard Kaylan are grappling with each other on the floor of the Roostertail, a Detroit night club whose wall of windows looks across the Detroit River to Canada.

It's 2 a.m. and they're laughing and clowning around with each other while the Motor City's radio and record people celebrate with an unending supply of free drinks provided by the Cooper organization and Warner Bros.

Mo Ostin, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Warner Bros. Records, smiles watching the punchy antics of his hottest act.

He flew in for the Detroit gig to present Alice with two platinum records for "Killer" and "School's Out".

Alice, one of the nicest guys in rock shared the honours on the club's bandstand not only with his musicians, but also the men who worked 25 hours a day to keep Alice Cooper a $ucce$$ - manager Shep Gordon, producer Bob Ezrin and promotion chief Ashley Pandel.

Detroit is city number 18 on Alice's back-breaking 56 city North American tour.

"We're only one-third finished and I'm already 47 years old." Alice joked earlier in the day.

Between Louisville on Monday and Detroit on Wednesday, Alice side-stepped back to New York for the unveiling of his chronograph portrait by Salvador Dali in the chichi Knoedler Gallery on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

At the press conference in the gallery, denimed denizens of the rock world and impeccably tailored habituees of the high-price art circuit tripped over TV cables and crews jostling each other for centre positions.

Sucking on a bottle of Michelob (more in tune with the posh atmosphere then a can of Bubweiser), Alice followed by fellow surrealist into the brightly lit room.

Clad in a white gauze gold-specked caftan that revealed suspenders holding up his trousers underneath, Dali began rattling off a speech in such a heavy Spanish accent that it trailed off into gibberish.

During his 20 minutes I could make out the words "historical press conference" and "of le brain of Alice Cooper."

Alice, wearing black motorcycle leathers and a pearl necklace, nearly cracked up when Dali suddenly grabbed his head and kissed him on the forehead. Monty Python couldn't have dreamed up a zanier scene.

"What does Alice mean to Dali?" someone asked.

Suddenly switching into intelligibility, Dali answered: "Alice is exponent for me off total confusion."

Laughing Alice chimed in: "Dali is possibly more confusing than I am which is why we got along so well."

Upstairs workmen are still assembling the show of Dali's chronographs which utilize the film and laser techniques of holograph inside a cylinder to create a three-dimensional image floating in space. "Le brain of Alice Cooper," was ready.

Inside a clear glass cylinder approximately nine inches high and two feet in diameter, the 3-D image of Alice's head topped with the Duke of Westminster's tiara, appeared to float in space as his lips moved close to a microphone.

Turning the cylinder, you viewed all sides of the image - a spooky effect like a genie appearing in a crystal ball. Aling with the image inside the cylinder were a fragmented Venus, supposedly symbolising antiquity shattered by the pop star's voice, and a pinkish brain model, the type used in med school lectures.

Whether this 3-D portrait is art with a capital A or not, depends on whether one still considers Dali an artist, and that I leave to the critics.

Flo and Eddie breezed in like the Marx Bros. A hard hat with a whopping pink plastic flamingo perched on top covered Volman's fat tangle of hair and a rhinestone star pin nested in Kaylan's beard. While Alice and Howard exchanged vows of undying friendship, one more putrid than the next, Volman casually tipped his head down so that the flamingo could cop a drink.

"You guys got to come early to see us in the show," Mark told the group, "because after nine we usher."

I don't knoiw how good Flo and Eddie are at showing people to their seats, but it's hard to stay in your seat when they play. Tight and inventive musically, Flo and Eddie get across a show that is hip and humorous.

"We are not Rod Stewart," Mark announced to the SRO crowd at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit. Unfortunately, the majority of them appeared to belong to the Quaalude generation and too stoned to push their lips into a smile.

"Now just for Detroit we're gonna boogie," announced Mark, who by now had slipped off the Toronto Maple Leaf jersey to reveal a colossal expanse of belly.

"John Lennon told me to do that here."

They launched into their favourite part of the act. "You wanna boogie? We'll give you boogie. You wanna boogie? We'll gove you boogie," Flo and Eddie sang over and over as Mark chugged back and forth across the stage in a deadly parody of every jamming guitarist in the business.

At one point Mark chomped on the guitar strings with his teeth. "Sort of like Edgar Winter, huh?" he shouted.

Meanwhile in the dressing room, Alice Cooper watched the parade of stage hands, helpers, journalists and assorted groupies lunging at a table full of cold cuts, salad and chips.

Grotesque lepard skin boots climbed up past the knees of the ripped and smudged white leotard he wore. His mother sat next to him and Alice dug introducing her to everyone. There's some family resemblance except her long black hair was neatly dressed unlike her son's string locks, and she's a lot prettier than Alice.

As well as having his own mother there, Alice was also excited to be back in Detroit the city where the whole Alice Cooper trip began.

The town gave him a full blast of screaming and cheering when he appeared on the elaborate multi-tiered stage in a white tail coat over his leotard to open the show with "Hello Hurray." I could see a big proud smile on his mother's face as she watched her son and heard that driving rock and roll music that his band knows how to play so well.

"Unfinished Sweet," concludes the white tail-coated half of the show. We suffer the pain of a toothache with Alice as the Amazing Randi, resident tour magician, bores down on his with a huge spinning lit-up top of a drill.

But Alice gets his revenge attacking a dancing tooth with a giant squashy Claos Oldenburg inspired tude of toothpaste and a toothbrush nearly as long as Alice is tall.

Alice turns brushing that tooth into an erotic fantasy that fills the cavity where "Deep Throat" left off. Too bad the kids in the audience have no sense of humour because so much of what Alice does is a giggle.

The stage darkens as a tape of "Night On A Bare Mountain" walls and the roadies, illuminated in flashes by a strobe light, go through a hilarious pantomime fight throwing bits and pieces of mannequins on centre stage.

Then the mummy case standing behind Neil Smith's mirror paved drum kit starts glowing in an eerie blue as the band, now in black sequined costumes, return to the stage, Alice, also in black sequin pants and cobwebby black open chested shirt, snarls "Sick Things" while he caresses his snake.

During "Dead Babies" he batters and humps the arms and torsos of the mannequins and skewers a baby doll on a sword. His mother is chewing her gum faster and faster as he gets to his "I Love The Dead" guillotine climax.

Looking more deranged by the minute, Alice teases the crowd with the guillotine and you can practically feel them shouting "off with his head" inside their brains.

Whomp! The blade goes down and the black hooded Amazing Randi, lunges into the basket and comes up hands dripping red with a perfect model of Alice's head.

The band leave their instruments and claw at a life-size dummy decapitated Alice torso and the head. It's about as scary as a Hammer Bros horror flick and much more fun.

The lights go back on and here's to a jaunty looking Alice with white tailcoat again to do "School's Out."

He picks up a poster of the group, tears his own picture out of the centre and kisses it.

The crowd is already shoving down towards the front to be in the line of fire when Alice tosses out a barrage of posters.

As I elbow my way out of a fourth row seat through the throbbing press of thousands of teenage bodies, I am terrified. Will I reach the safety of the back-stage area and live to write about this show? It's the only non-entertaining moment I've had all night.

The next afternoon at a press conference in grungy grey Detroit, Mark Volman said to Alice: "Did you tell them you were in New York yesterday and met James Taylor?"

"He looked extremely nervous and she looked like she was walking a yacht," Alice quipped.

The press conference took place in the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge where room service features plastic knives and folks and coffee in a cardboard cup.

Wearing the same plaid suit as the night before, Alice faced an assemblage of work shirts and blue jeans that had as much life in them as the mannequins he gropes onstage. Only roly-poly deejay, Dave Dixon of WABX, helped Alice inject some oomph into the generally tongue-tied toom.

"What do you think of David Bowie?" someone finally managed.

"Who?" Alice feigned. "Who - - oh, you mean Gwen Verdon." Shifting into a softer voice, he added: "No, he's a good friend of mine."

"It's the tough questions that make you a superstar," Dixon exclaimed.


Alice Cooper: "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (Warner Brothers):

For more obviously Cooperish than its rather dreary predecessor, this track find our lovable, cuddly, beer-drinking pervert issuing yet another hard rock manifesto for anti-social conduct of various descriptions. I think it's really (sob!) beautiful. You will buy this record, take it into your homes, and whip it goodnight.