It’s been three years since a documentary capturing a record store reunion by the four surviving band members Alice Cooper made its world premiere at the Phoenix Film Festival, winning Best Documentary Short.
The soundtrack to this documentary, “Live From the Astroturf, Alice Cooper,” will be released on Friday, September 30 as a CD and Blu-ray Digipak and four varieties of colored vinyl with accompanying DVD.
The concert was originally staged 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 to take place, picked the date in October 2015 because he knew the singer had the day off after touring Texas. .
This was how he was able to orchestrate a rare reunion concert for the band whose 1973 US tour in support of the “Billion Dollar Babies” album broke box office records held by the Rolling Stones.
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The production of “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 numerous awards at festivals around the world.
“I was going to sign some books and do a Q&A on my own,” Dunaway told the Arizona Republic in 2019.
“And then we found out Alice was going to be in town and having the day off, so Chris asked if Michael and Neal would be interested in performing and we ended up making it this massive event around the book signing.”
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Dunaway: “Not bad without rehearsal”
It’s a stellar performance and the sound is excellent.
Or as Dunaway told The Arizona Republic, “Not bad for zero rehearsals and not having played those songs in 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 a while. Ryan Roxie, who was replacing the late Glen Buxton on guitar, who died in 1997, convinced them to do this one.
“But it went well,” Dunaway said. “As soon as you hear the original sound and all the parts are played as they were written, things fall into place naturally.”
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Alice Cooper Group meetings over the years
This show opened up other opportunities for former members of Cooper’s band, who met as teenagers in Phoenix in the ’60s.
Every album Cooper has released since then — 2017’s “Paranormal” and last year’s “Detroit Stores” — has included two reunion tracks.
The former band members also toured the UK and held an industry event in Nashville in 2017 (which led to Cooper having them perform on stage as an encore at his Nashville gig).
The original members parted 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 performed Cooper’s Christmas Pudding with Steve Hunter on guitar in December 2010 at the Dodge Theater (now Arizona Federal Theater).
It was at this Christmas Pudding concert that longtime producer Bob Ezrin announced he had been chosen for induction into 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 perform the Revolver Golden Gods Awards and record a live set for a Jägermeister Ice Cold 4D webcast. .
They also appeared on three tracks from the album “Welcome 2 My Nightmare” in 2011.
The Dallas Record Store concert was the first they had performed together since those events in 2011.
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Alice Cooper’s Phoenix Origins
Cooper, Dunaway and Buxton made their first stage appearances in the Cortez High School “cafetorium”, rocking the wigs they bought at Woolworth’s while impersonating the Beatles as part of a talent show.
By the time they arrived on the Phoenix club scene as the Spiders, they had recruited Bruce, a football player from North High, scoring a regional hit with a single titled “Don’t Blow Your Mind”.
After changing their name to Nazz, they moved to Los Angeles in 1967, where Smith, a Camelback High graduate who had taken art lessons with Dunaway, Cooper and Buxton at Glendale Community College, joined the battery.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the album “School’s Out”, whose title track remains their best album in the United States.
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