Rolling Stone

Originally Published: November 08, 1973

Liza with a Z Meets Alice With a C

Author: Stuart Werbin

New York - The sounds of a thousand strings, one mother of a synthesizer and (in there somewhere) a four-piece hard rock band engulf the solitary figure of Liza Minnelli standing in the emptiness of Studio A at the Record Plant, half a block from the heart of the Broadway theater district.

Liza's hands clutch earphones that send the wall of meticulously arranged twilight zone noise deep into her head. Extra color rushes into her face, her eyes twinkle through half-closed lids, and when she opens that Holland Tunnel of a mouth, a wail of sonic eeriness reverberates through the massive echo chamber. The result is an overture that, if Alice Cooper can swing it, may find its way into the next James Bond movie.

At the moment, though, it is a track called "Man With the Golden Gun," which is ticketed for Cooper's next album, Muscle Of Love. Alice hasn't yet been commissioned to follow in the footsteps of Henry Mancini and Paul McCartney, but he doesn't mind saying that he's open to the possibility of doing an 007 title song.

"Can't you just see the words 'Albert R. Brocolli and Harry Salzman Presents . . .' crawling across the screen?" dreamed Cooper in the control room, where he was dolled up in a pink sailor suit. "Live and Let Die was the largest grossing film of the year. James Bond lives!," Cooper declared with a beer toast that sent Budweiser foam trickling down his sleeve.

It's been a long day. The TV crews and reporters started arriving at 4 PM, attracted by the invitation to watch Liza sit in with Alice. That was for the recording of another track, "Teenage Lament '74," which Alice describes as being about " a kid who feels trapped by the pressure to conform to wearing long hair and jeans like all the other kids, when he really wants to be different."

The special "announced" guest procured by the people at Alice's Alive Enterprises to complete the dream line-up of "backup chicks" was none other than Ronette, Ronnie Spector. "The perfect Sixties voice," said Alice.

The unlikely trio strolled out to the microphones. Alice and Liza performed a few brief throat cleaning exercises and warm-up pitches before Ronnie suddenly let out a "WUH OHH A WUH UH OHHH OHHH" that was every bit as strong as the Golden Oldies opening bars to "Be My Baby." The press gallery seemed to remember and gave her a standing ovation.

After the take Liza asked Alice, "Was it all right?"

"It was great, but I think we recorded it over what was supposed to be a guitar solo. Don't worry, my engineers can handle anything."

It was announced that the stars would adjourn to a corner of the studio to field questions.

"Actually we're just good friends," Alice and Liza laughed. "Actually we used to be married. All three of us. No, really, Liza and I got together so that people would finally know that we were not the same person."

"He's right," said Liza. "People have always been asking me if I was really Alice, and people always ask him if he's really Liza, and this seemed like the only way to get it straight."

"Actually," said Alice, "the three of us met on Hollywood Squares."

(Joe Gannon, who does Cooper's lights, was on tour with Liza when he discovered she was an admirer of Alice's style. He knew Alice admired Liza, also, and arranged for the telephone calls that led to the recording session.)

A woman reporter zeroed in on Liza. "Liza, the question that people really want to know is who's the top man in your life."

"Oh, I don't think people really care that much anymore," Liza answered weekly, with an edge of discomfort.

"We're really not that concerned with ecology," Alice butted in, as Liza wandered off.

"Hey, Ronnie," another reporter said. "Does your husband know where you are tonight?"

"Phillip? Naw. But he didn't know where I was last night either."

Hours later, as Alice prepared to leave in time to catch the Eleven O'Clock News, Liza finished up her melodic wave track when handsome Edward Albert, dressed in corduroys and loafers and looking as warm and shyishly likably as the blind boy he played in Butterflies Are Free, arrived for his date with Liza.

"Hey," Alice jumped up at the visitor, "I saw you on $10,000 Pyramid. You were great!"

"Well, yeah, they give you a pretty good deal," Albert blushed, not certain if this guy with the pink zipper half mast was putting him on. "They fly me to New York and I get to stay with friends . . ."

"It's a great show, too," said Alice. "I hardly ever miss it. I saw you when you won the pyramid."

"Yeah?" the kid smiled.

Five minutes later, over a slice of pizza, Alice was trying to find a place for Edward on the album. There were still lots of songs to be done: "Women Machine," "Hard Hearted Alice," "Big Apple Dreamin'." And Labelle and the Pointer Sisters would be coming in for their sessions, too.