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Sunday, December 20, 2009


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What made Alice Cooper a star? Sure, he had a tight, exciting band and some great songs that were as good as hard rock got in the early '70s, but he distinguished himself as a showman. By bringing shameless theatricality to rock & roll, he separated himself from the pack and became a superstar — the kind of person who is known for being himself more than for his achievements. This trajectory and the melodrama that inspired it are evident on the generous four-disc box set The Life & Crimes of Alice Cooper. Most box sets play like a sober history lesson, but this one plays like a grand epic, filled with love, lust, blood, and guts. Witness the humble beginnings of Vincent Furnier, as he leads an Arizona garage-rock band called the Spiders through some credible, fuzzed-out Yardbirds-styled rock & roll! See how the Spiders transform into Nazz, then to the Alice Cooper band! Gasp as Furnier becomes shock-rocker Alice Cooper! Thrill to Alice's biggest hits — every cut from Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits is here, some in their original single incarnations, all impeccably remastered! Wonder what went wrong as disc three begins to unfurl, and Alice Cooper the star cannibalizes the band, making such bizarre choices as recording with the Bee Gees from the Sgt. Pepper movie! Then, as soon as you figure Alice is down for the count, see his glorious resurrection as a hair-metal godfather! It's no wonder that listening to all four discs in a row is exhausting — this is a rock & roll Horatio Alger story. And thank God for that, since that narrative drive makes The Life & Crimes of Alice Cooper one of the truly satisfying and definitive box sets of the late '90s. True, that doesn't mean that all of the featured music is terrific — even though the compilers have done an excellent job of selecting the best from all his albums, particularly from the flawed latter-day efforts, there's still a lot of marginal material here — but it does paint an accurate portrait of his career, while featuring everything a casual fan could want and an abundance of rarities for the hard-core collector. It's a difficult trick to pull off, but Life & Crimes does it, and as a result, it stands as the final word on a showbiz career that was truly like no other.

Disc 1
1. Don't Blow Your Mind
2. Hitch Hike
3. Why Don't You Love Me
4. Lay Down and Die, Goodbye [Original Version]
5. Nobody Likes Me [Demo Version]
6. Levity Ball [Studio Version]
7. Reflected
8. Mr. and Misdemeanor
9. Refrigerator Heaven
10. Caught in a Dream [Single Version]
11. I'm Eighteen
12. Is It My Body?
13. Ballad of Dwight Fry
14. Under My Wheels
15. Be My Lover
16. Desperado
17. Dead Babies
18. Killer
19. Call It Evil [Demo Version]
20. Gutter Cats Vs. The Jets
21. School's Out [Single Version]

Disc 2
1. Hello, Hooray
2. Elected [Single Version]
3. Billion Dollar Babies
4. No More Mr. Nice Guy
5. I Love the Dead
6. Slick Black Limousine
7. Respect for the Sleepers [Demo Version]
8. Muscle of Love
9. Teenage Lament '74
10. Working Up a Sweat
11. Man With the Golden Gun
12. I'm Flash
13. Space Pirates
14. Welcome to My Nightmare [Single Version]
15. Only Women Bleed [Single Version]
16. Cold Ethyl
17. Department of Youth
18. Escape
19. I Never Cry
20. Go to Hell

Disc 3
1. It's Hot Tonight
2. You and Me [Single Version]
3. I Miss You - Billion Dollar Babies
4. No Time for Tears
5. Because
6. From the Inside [Single Version]
7. How You Gonna See Me Now
8. Serious
9. No Tricks
10. Road Rats
11. Clones (We're All)
12. Pain
13. Who Do You Think We Are [Single Version]
14. Look at You over There, Ripping the Sawdust from My Teddybear [Demo]
15. For Britain Only
16. I Am the Future [Single Version]
17. Tag, You're It
18. Former Lee Warmer
19. I Love America
20. Identity Crisises
21. See Me in the Mirror
22. Hard Rock Summer

Disc 4
1. He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask) [Demo Version]
2. He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask) [Movie Mix]
3. Teenage Frankenstein
4. Freedom
5. Prince of Darkness
6. Under My Wheels [with Axl Rose, Slash & Izzy]
7. I Got a Line on You
8. Poison
9. Trash
10. Only My Heart Talkin'
11. Hey Stoopid [Single Version]
12. Feed My Frankenstein
13. Fire
14. Lost in America
15. It's Me
16. Hands of Death (Burn Baby Burn) [Spookshow 2000 Mix]
17. Is Anyone Home? [Live]
18. Stolen Prayer

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