Alice Cooper: ‘Live From The Astroturf’

Released on September 30, 2022 (earMusic)

With former Alice Cooper Band bassist Dennis Dunaway promoting his new autobiography Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group, the unthinkable happened when the four remaining members of the iconic Alice Cooper Band — singer Alice Cooper, guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith — joined forces once again along with current Alice Cooper guitarist Ryan Roxie for a short but electric set at Good Records in Dallas, Texas, USA on October 6, 2015. This wasn’t the first time that Alice Cooper had reunited with his remaining three band members (guitarist Glen Buxton passed away in 1997) but it was the first time that I was witnessing such a reunion take place via YouTube video footage of that night.

For those who might not be familiar with how Alice Cooper ended up splitting from his bandmates back in the mid-1970’s, after 1973’s Muscle of Love, things were seemingly not going well within the band so the members decided to take a break. By 1975, the group’s frontman had switched his legal name to Alice Cooper to avoid any legal issues in that regard and he went on to forge one of the most amazing solo careers in the music business. While Alice Cooper was forging ahead with a successful solo career, Bruce, Dunaway and Smith ended up forming the aptly named group Billion Dollar Babies, which released one album Battle Axe in 1977. On a side note, my younger brother was a huge Alice Cooper fan when we were growing up and he was even able to find and purchase a used copy of Battle Axe back in the late ’80s.

In any case, there have been a few live reunions between Alice Cooper and his former bandmates over the years including in 1999 and 2010 but as previously stated, I was not aware of those “reunions”. Accordingly, I was quite excited to see Alice Cooper, Bruce, Dunaway and Smith play a number of their classic tracks together, some of which continue to be played to this day live by Alice Cooper himself. Presumably as a result of the upcoming release of Live From The Astroturf, the video footage on YouTube from that fateful night on October 6, 2015 disappeared.

When I purchased Live From The Astroturf, I was looking forward to seeing the ‘Documentary Film’, which includes the full live set, but alas that footage only came in the form of a Blu-Ray, which I do not have. I had encountered the same problem when I had previously purchased H.E.A.T‘s Live At Sweden Rock Festival. I suppose that I need to pay more attention whether video footage comes in the form of a DVD or Blu-Ray but the truth of the matter is that I would have purchased Live From The Astroturf simply for the live audio, which is technically what I ended up doing. Accordingly, my review of Live From The Astroturf does not include commentary about the ‘Documentary Film’.

That being said, I think the live audio from Live From The Astroturf is more than enough value for my money. Given that I had previously viewed the YouTube video footage on a piece meal basis (one song from one video at a time), I didn’t realize that Alice Cooper and Ryan Roxie only showed up on stage during the second song that was played at Good Records. You can imagine my shock when I first heard the lead vocals for the opening track “Caught In A Dream.” That definitely wasn’t Alice Cooper but I instantly made the connection that guitarist Michael Bruce was on lead vocals just like when the trio of Bruce, Dunaway and Smith played in Billion Dollar Babies together almost 40 years ago. Given that “Caught In A Dream” is one of my favorite Alice Cooper songs of all-time, I would have loved to hear Alice Cooper sing it. Eventually, Alice and Roxie made their way to the stage and the “reunited” Alice Cooper Band (with Roxie replacing the deceased Glen Buxton) launched into the song “Be My Lover.” As I was listening to the song, all I could think was how witty the lyrics were for those songs from the Alice Cooper Band’s Love It To Death (1971), Killer (1971), School’s Out (1972), Billion Dollar Babies (1973) and Muscle of Love (1973) era. Stuff like ‘She asked me why the singer’s name was Alice / I said ‘listen baby, you really wouldn’t understand” in “Be My Lover” make for fun and witty lyrics.

The banter between the band members, which is oddly listed as actual tracks on Live From The Astroturf, is fun to hear. The first “banter” track is titled “Whatever He’s Doing It’s Illegal” which is a reference to the group’s deceased bandmate Glen Buxton. What a pity that the Alice Cooper Band couldn’t have reunited before Buxton passed away but it was a nice touch to include the guitarist on the album cover and of course to mention him during their set at Good Records. The band members engage in “banter” after each track played but I won’t spill anymore for the purpose of this review aside from one little tidbit later on in this review. It’s fun to hear the Alice Cooper Band members banter amongst themselves and it gives you the feeling that you are right there with them while listening to the live audio.

Most of the classics from the Alice Cooper Band era can be heard on Live From The Astroturf including “I’m Eighteen”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “School’s Out” and “Under My Wheels” but it’s the rarer played tracks that really pique my interest. Tracks like “Be My Lover”, “Is It My Body” and especially “Elected” were great additions to the live set. It was funny hearing the Alice Cooper Band joke around about the last song that was to be played (“Elected”) and one of them even suggested it was “Reflected.” I don’t know how many Alice Cooper fans would have picked up on that but the band’s debut album Pretties For You (1969) does contain a track named “Reflected” which would have been hilarious to hear even if they had just played a little snippet from it.

Overall, Live From The Astroturf is a fun album. It’s a record that I can put on at anytime and that takes me back to the classic Alice Cooper Band sound of those five really iconic albums that were released from 1971 to 1973. I include the underrated Muscle of Love in those classic era albums there although I can appreciate that the record has just not received the same love that the four previous ones received over the years. If you’re a fan of the Alice Cooper Band from the early to mid ’70s, picking up Live From The Astroturf is a no brainer.

CD Track List:
01. The Eighth Wonder of The World… (Intro)
02. Caught In A Dream
03. Be My Lover
04. Whatever He’s Doing It’s Illegal (banter)
05. I’m Eighteen
06. We Haven’t Done This One In About, What, 40 Years? (banter)
07. Is It My Body
08. Threatened For A Month (banter)
09. No More Mr. Nice Guy
10. I Guess Things Are Getting Better For You (banter)
11. Under My Wheels
12. It’s A Dangerous Place To Be (banter)
13. School’s Out
14. More Fun Than It’s Supposed To Be (banter)
15. Elected
16. School’s Out Not Over Until You Vote (outro)
Bonus Track:
17. Desperado (Instrumental)

01. Documentary Film including Full Show ‘Live From The Astroturf, Alice Cooper’
02. Music Video: “I’m Eighteen (Live From The Astroturf)”
03. Music Video: “Under My Wheels (Live From The Astroturf)”
04. Extensive Interview with Dennis, Michael and Neal

Alice Band Members:
Alice Cooper – lead vocals (3, 5, 7, 9. 11. 13, 15)
Michael Bruce – guitar, background vocals, lead vocals (2)
Dennis Dunaway – bass, background vocals
Neal Smith – drums

Additional Musicians:
Ryan Roxie – guitar, background vocals
Chuck Garric – harmonica (7)

Recorded by David R. Wilson
Mixed by Justin Cortelyou and Bob Ezrin
Mastered by Joe LaPorta
Executive producers: Chris Penn and Shep Gordon
Produced by Chris Penn

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, November 2022

Alice Cooper‘s “Under My Wheels” video (from Live From The Astroturf):

Alice Cooper‘s “I’m Eighteen” video (from Live From The Astroturf):