KILLER (EXPANDED & REMASTERED)
Released on June 9, 2023 (Rhino / Warner Records)
It’s hard to fathom that it’s already been almost even seven years since I reviewed Alice Cooper‘s 1971 album Killer to commemorate the 45th year anniversary of the release of the record. More than 50 years after its release, Killer has received the remastered and expanded treatment. Originally, I wasn’t going to purchase this deluxe album version since I already had Killer on both CD and vinyl but upon seeing all of the live tracks on the bonus disc and the relatively reasonable price (less than $30.00 Cdn), I decided to take the plunge. Upon listening to the live tracks on the bonus disc, I now regret my decision.
I am not going to review the actual Killer record since I already reviewed it back in November 2016. Suffice it to say that along with Love It To Death (1971), School’s Out (1972) and Billion Dollar Babies (1973), the blueprint for Alice Cooper‘s live sets for the next half century (and beyond) had been set. I do consider Killer to be the weakest of those four albums despite the very haunting and mesmerizing track “Halo of Flies”, the anthem “Under My Wheels”, and the slower but brilliant songs “Be My Lover” and “Desperado.” With respect to the songs being remastered for this release, I didn’t really notice that much difference to be honest aside that the sound is a bit crisper.
If there’s one thing that I hate on any live album, it’s when a band decides to do these extended jams rather than play the song close to how it was on its original album. Don’t get me wrong, I like it when a band throws in some extra guitar riffs or solos but long extended jams are just not cool, and frankly take time away from playing additional songs live. Having said that, you can probably guess that I am not a big Deep Purple fan since they are known live — or were known — for their long (endless) jams. I didn’t know what to expect with Alice Cooper‘s bonus live CD from back in April 1972. To be honest, I wasn’t that crazy with the setlist since seven out of the ten songs emanated from the Killer album (I prefer Love It To Death) but I thought it would be cool to hear the songs live in any case.
Unfortunately, the length of most of the songs on the live album is just out of control. The two biggest offenders are two cuts from Love It To Death — “Long Way To Go” which goes from three minutes and four seconds on the studio album to a ridiculous nine minutes and 50 seconds on the live record and “Is It My Body” which lasts only two minutes and 34 seconds on the studio album but ends at seven minutes and 40 seconds live. That’s a lot of needless jamming. Aside from the track “Under My Wheels” which more than doubles in length on the live record, most of the songs from the album Killer are just a “little” longer live (if you consider two extra minutes for one track meeting the “little” criteria). The “jam” on “Long Way To Go” is probably the most interesting one since it’s really just a long snippet of a “School’s Out” instrumental. I assume that that song was not yet released at that time (since the record School’s Out was only released two months later).
Another cool thing about the 1972 live record is hearing Alice Cooper‘s younger sounding voice live. Let’s face it. The shock rocker has released a lot of live records during the last 25 years or so. I count seven such live records so I am used to Alice Cooper‘s slighty older sounding and more mature voice in a live setting. But again, don’t get me wrong. I think Alice Cooper still sings really well at the age of 75 but his voice is clearer and not as raspy when he’s singing at age 24 on the 1972 live record. The one track that I find that sounds better live than on the studio album Killer is “You Drive Me Nervous” which has more bite and swagger in the live setting. I would love to hear Alice put that song back in his setlist, at least if just for one tour. As far as the alternate takes of the songs “You Drive Me Nervous”, “Under My Wheels” and “Dead Babies” go, I am not one to purchase and listen to various versions of tracks that have already been released so those could have easily been left off the bonus disc as far as I am concerned.
I do regret purchasing the expanded and remastered version of Killer as the bonus live disc just didn’t live up to my perhaps lofty expectations. Had Alice Cooper released a few live albums during his golden era (1971’s Love It To Death to 1973’s Billion Dollar Babies), I probably wouldn’t have felt the need to purchase the expanded and remastered version of Killer to hear and own the bonus live record.
CD1 Track List (2023 remastered):
01. Under My Wheels
02. Be My Lover
03. Halo Of Flies
05. You Drive Me Nervous
06. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
07. Dead Babies
CD2 Track List:
Live at Mar Y Sol Pop Festival in Puerto Rico on April 2, 1972:
01. Be My Lover
02. You Drive Me Nervous
03. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
04. I’m Eighteen
05. Halo of Flies
06. Is It My Body
07. Dead Babies
09. Long Way To Go
10. Under My Wheels
11. You Drive Me Nervous
12. Under My Wheels
13. Dead Babies
Alice Cooper – vocals, harmonica
Glen Buxton – guitar
Michael Bruce – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Dennis Dunaway – bass guitar, backing vocals
Neal Smith – drums, backing vocals
Produced by Bob Ezrin
Executive producer: Jack Richardson
Recording engineer: Brian Christian
Recording technician: Joe Lopes
String and horn arrangements: Bob Ezrin
Produced for release by Steve Woolard and Bill Inglot
Remastered by Dan Hersch and Bill Inglot
Live tracks mastered by Brian Kehew
Product manager: Alicia Yaffe
Project manager: Shannon Ward
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, July 2023
Alice Cooper‘s “Long Way To Go” live at Mar Y Sol Pop Festival in Puerto Rico on April 2, 1972: