Billion Dollar Babies - First Ever Live Show,
It seems to almost have been forgotten now by many, but Alice Cooper was originally the name of the band, not the singer. After the tour for 1974’ ‘Muscle of Love’ the band agreed to take a break, record some solo albums and then get back together. After Michael Bruce had released ‘In My Own Way’, Neal Smith ‘Platinum God’ and Alice ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ Michael, Dennis Dunaway and Neal started writing new songs for the new Alice Cooper Group album, but unfortunately the success Alice got for ‘Welcome’ meant that it never happened. The trio decided to put together to record what should have been the next album, and recruited keyboard player Bob Dolin (who had played on the 1973 Alice Cooper tour) and guitarist Mike Marconi. Due to obvious reasons, they were unable to keep the Alice Cooper name so instead took the new band name from one of the many songs co-written by Bruce, and recorded the album ‘Battle Axe’. The idea was that they were then going to tour playing material both from their earlier career and the album, but they only ever played six shows, and what we have here is a recording of the first of these, recorded at Flint in 1977.
Quality wise, this sounds as if it is a good audience recording as opposed to having been taken from the sound desk, so don’t go into this expecting sonic brilliance. But, when it comes to where it fits within musical history then this album is wonderful. Let’s not forget, the core of B$B are the same guys who featured on all of the truly classic Cooper albums, and were involved in the writing and arrangements, and cut their teeth on the tours that made the whole band (not just the front man) a household name. The show contains four songs from ‘Battle Axe’, then an Alice medley, another four songs, and then a stunning version of the song they took their name from. It is raw and raucous, and the band sounds on fire, so much so that all one wants to do is to keep playing it even if the sound quality is a little ropey. The release contains photos of the band live, plus an interview with Bruce from 2001. One wonders what they could have achieved without Alice if they had been allowed to, powerful stuff.