Alice Cooper band's record-store reunion movie is coming out. Here's how to get it
It's been three years since a documentary capturing a record-store reunion by the four surviving members of the Alice Cooper group made its world premiere at the Phoenix Film Festival, winning Best Documentary Short in the process.
The soundtrack to that documentary, "Live From the Astroturf, Alice Cooper,” will be released on Friday, Sept. 30, as a CD and Blu-ray Digipak and four varieties of colored vinyl with accompanying DVD.
It should be available at record stores and online retail outlets where music and movies are sold.
The concert was originally set up as a book signing for bassist Dennis Dunaway's memoir, "Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group."
But Dallas record store owner Chris Penn of Good Records, where Dunaway's signing was scheduled to happen, had chosen that date in October 2015 because he knew the singer had the day off from touring in Texas.
That's how he was able to orchestrate a rare reunion concert by the group whose 1973 U.S. tour in support of the chart-topping "Billion Dollar Babies" album broke box-office records then held by the Rolling Stones.
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How tour led to 'Live From the Astroturf'
Director Steven Gaddis was on hand to capture Cooper, Dunaway, guitarist Michael Bruce and drummer Neal Smith in action for “Live From the Astroturf, Alice Cooper," which won multiple awards at festivals around the world.
"I was gonna go sign books and do a Q&A on my own," Dunaway told the Arizona Republic in 2019.
"And then we found out that Alice was going to be in town and have a day off, so Chris asked if Michael and Neal would be interested in playing and we ended up turning it into this massive event around the book signing."
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Dunaway: 'Not bad for no rehearsal'
It's a stellar performance and the sound is great.
Or as Dunaway told The Arizona Republic, "Not bad for no rehearsal and having not played those songs in quite a few years. The night before, Neal, Michael and I got together and made sure the amps were working... It was more like a soundcheck than a rehearsal but, you know, it’s not like we haven’t played those songs before."
They hadn't done "Elected" in awhile. Ryan Roxie, who was filling in on guitar for the late great Glen Buxton, who died in 1997, talked them into doing that one.
"But it came out great," Dunaway said. "As soon as you hear the original sound and all of the parts being played the way they were written, it makes things kind of fall into place naturally."
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The concert opens with Bruce on lead vocals for "Caught in a Dream," the opening track on their breakthrough album, "Love it to Death."
Then, Cooper makes his entrance with guitarist Ryan Roxie of his touring band and joins his former bandmates in a raucous trip down memory lane, from "Be My Lover" to "I'm Eighteen," "Is It My Body?," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "Under My Wheels," "School's Out" and "Elected."
The soundtrack also features an instrumental version of the Alice Cooper classic "Desperado" from soundcheck.
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That show led to other opportunities for Cooper's former bandmates, who met as teens in Phoenix in the '60s.
Each album Cooper has released since then — 2017's "Paranormal" and last year's "Detroit Stories" — has included two reunion tracks.
The former bandmates also did a U.K. tour and an industry event in Nashville in 2017 (which led to Cooper having them onstage to take part in the encore at his Nashville concert).
The original members went their separate ways after "Muscle of Love" in 1974. Cooper went solo the following year with "Welcome to My Nightmare."
The four surviving members reunited in 1999 at the second Glen Buxton Memorial Weekend at CoopersTown in Phoenix and played Cooper's Christmas Pudding with Steve Hunter on guitar in December 2010 at the Dodge Theatre (now Arizona Federal Theatre).
It was at that Christmas Pudding concert that longtime producer Bob Ezrin announced that they'd been chosen for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
They reunited again at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony the following March and again a month later to play the Revolver Golden Gods Awards and record a live set for a Jägermeister Ice Cold 4D webcast.
They also appeared on three tracks on the "Welcome 2 My Nightmare" album in 2011.
The Dallas record store concert was the first they'd played together since those events in 2011.
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The Phoenix origins of Alice Cooper
Cooper, Dunaway and Buxton made their first onstage appearance in the Cortez High School "cafetorium," shaking the wigs they'd bought at Woolworth's while spoofing the Beatles as part of a talent show.
By the time they hit the Phoenix club scene as the Spiders, they'd recruited Bruce, a North High football player, scoring a regional hit with a single called "Don't Blow Your Mind."
After changing their name to the Nazz, they moved to Los Angeles in 1967, where Smith, a Camelback High grad who'd been in art classes with Dunaway, Cooper and Buxton at Glendale Community College, joined on drums.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the "School's Out" album, the title track of which remains their highest-charting U.S. hit.
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