I’m Eighteen And I Like It!
The Local Record Store Perspective…
For the longest of whiles, the biggest selling record at Rue Morgue Records was the recent WaxWork release of the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie soundtrack. I could not stock them fast enough and after three re-orders via my distributor, I finally mnnaged to fulfill all orders before the LP sold out. On last count we sold just under 15 copies. For a small venture like ours, that was huge. (And a little embarrassing!)
I mean, as a hard-edged record store that caters mostly to the hard and fast aspects of music and extreme lifestyles, we didn’t want Ninja Turtles being our biggest seller now did we? No siree!
And so it came to Record Store Day – Black Friday this past November. This would be Rue Morgue Records very first RSD as a store so I was very excited about it all! Whilst not as huge and insane as the usual Record Store Day earlier on in the year, there was still a bunch of fantastic releases scheduled for the big day.
One particular release that did catch my eye when I was perusing the embargoed list that was made available to retailers a few months ago, was the Alice Cooper Live At The Astroturf album. Oooh! This sounds interesting! This sounds very interesting! I dunno, gut instinct kicked in and I had a strong feeling that this was going to be a highly sought after item.
I was right.
I ordered 10. I sold 10 before the ink could dry on my invoice. Putting out the Rue Morgue Records mailing list so that mailing list punters could get first pick at all the goodies on offer, the Cooper record had sold out by noon. Still, I was inundated with requests for the record so I ordered 10 more. And I considered myself very, very fortunate to be able to get more! For those in the know, this was a hot ticket item!
For a small retailer like me, this is a bit of a risk. The last thing I wanted was to end up with stock I can’t shift. It makes a big dent on the bottom line and leaves this fledgling business in a precarious position.
I needn’t have panicked. They all sold out. I shifted units to every corner of the world (Spain, UK, USA, Canada and the rest in Australia.
So what was it that made this record so special and seeing it now on the secondary market of eBay demanding prices close to $100 and sometimes over.
Well, for one, it is an absolutely beautifully packaged record with all sorts of goodies which is making the collectability of it even higher. It comes in a stunning foil cover with posters, trading cards, booklet and 12 different coloured vinyl versions! All sealed! So you have no idea which variant you are getting.
Secondly the record features Alice Cooper reuniting with members of the 1970’s Alice Cooper Band. The very band that were responsible for what ultimately became Alice Cooper the solo artist.
Finally, have you heard this thing? I didn’t hold great expectation as to how these guys would sound after all these years but man, the songs have never, ever sounded this good! There is a sense of purity about it. A sense of this is what these songs are SUPPOSED to sound like. No matter how amazing Cooper’s players are these days, I would rather hear these old classics played by this version of the band than any other. They freaking captured some magic on this record! Absolute magic!
As Dangerous Minds reports, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, and Neal Smith were on hand at Dallas’ Good Records to sign copies of Dunway’s new memoir, Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in The Alice Cooper Group. To the surprise of attendees, Cooper himself joined his former bandmates, and together, they performed an eight-song set.
The Chris Penn and Good Records involvement…
So how did this reunion all come to be? What launched as a Record Store Day 7″ single in 2016, became an LP for Record Store Day Black Friday 2018.
Dallas, TX: Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times At Ridgemont High saved Brooke Shields from drowning then blew the reward money to hire Van Halen to play his birthday party. That is Spicoli’s claim to fame amongst his surfer buddies and crowning achievement post high school.
Chris Penn has had a similar trajectory amongst Alice Cooper fans and record store owners alike. A lifelong superfan of Alice Cooper since discovering Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits in his father’s LPs, Chris never got to see the original Alice Cooper lineup which disbanded in 1974. (He was three years old at the time.) Chris has been a record store customer since 1980 and working at and ultimately owning a record store since 1993. He has followed the solo Alice Cooper and the original members careers all along.
Chris learned of Dennis Dunaway, the original bassist/songwriter, writing a book (Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!) about his adventures around the formation, success, and breakup of the Alice Cooper group. Chris contacted Dennis prior to its release and ultimately for 2 years or so before Dennis’ appearance at Good Records came to fruition. It finally came time after such persistence (and Dennis’ researching that Chris wasn’t a total fruitcake.) Dennis agreed to come to Dallas to do a Q+A/book signing. Dennis had a window of time and allowed Chris Penn to pick a date of his choice in that timeframe. Chris chose October 6, 2015. The significance of that date was a day off in Dallas for Alice Cooper who was out on tour with Motley Crue. Alice Cooper was playing Hidalgo, TX the day before and Chris knew Alice would have to come to Dallas for his day off since a lot more golf courses exist in the DFW area.
After securing the date, Dennis assisted Chris in getting Michael Bruce original guitarist/songwriter and Neal Smith original drummer/songwriter on board with the event. After having commitments from 3 of the 4 surviving members the stars seemed to be aligning perfectly. Chris contacted Toby Mamis co-manager of Alice Cooper and Kyler Clark, Alice’s assistant about the idea of Alice joining in the Q+A portion. They didn’t want to take away the spotlight from Dennis’ book. Dennis also brought it up to the AC camp as well. The idea of Dennis, Michael, and Neal playing arose along the way. Dennis and Chris mentioned it to Toby and Kyler. They thought it would be perfect to have Alice surprise the crowd after the Q+A and signing were complete and join the live set.
Video of the group’s performance of “I’m Eighteen” begins with a brief interview with Dunaway, Bruce and Smith who joke about getting sick of hearing the hit on the radio, their use of props and how the songs and theatricality dovetailed together. When they perform, they do so on a tiny stage, goading on the audience as they dramatically lift their instruments into the air. The clip also shows the line outside waiting to get into the store. Ryan Roxie, who plays in guitar in Cooper’s group, fills in for late guitarist Glen Buxton.
Chris and the store went all out. Cutting a hole in the store’s office wall to create a portal for Alice to enter the store without anyone being the wiser, recovering the stage in pink astorturf, bringing in pro audio and video equipment to document the event, decorating the whole store with billboards of all the original band’s albums, balloons & panties to throw on the crowd during School’s out, the whole nine yards. They brought arena rock to a record store for one night.
It went off without a hitch. The band played brilliantly and had Cheshire cat smiles the whole set which wind up being their longest set since their last ever show in Brazil in 1974. Chris decided to Periscope the event right before it started (a new platform the time) and it spread like wildfire. Chris knew he had helped play a part in something magical but had no idea how significant until the fan videos and news of the event went viral. (See brief rundown of press.)
Michael Kurtz, founder of Record Store Day, contacted Chris Penn if the event’s audio had been captured. Luckily Chris Penn had the foresight to get David Wilson local sound engineer to multi-track record it. Michael and Chris contacted Shep Gordon Alice’s lifelong manager and of Supermensch fame about releasing some of the songs from the night. Shep shared the tracks with Bob Ezrin (producer of Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, KISS). Bob was floored about the quality of the audio and the band’s performance. He chose the songs, “I’m Eighteen,” (video of the performance premiered with Rolling Stone this October 19) and “Is It My Body,” whose Good Records performance video premieres exclusively TODAY with recordstoreday.com as the two tunes to run with.
This made Chris Penn’s OCD very happy. Those were the A and B side of a single Alice Cooper released in 1970 prior to the “Love It To Death” full length coming out. Bob Ezrin mixed the tracks along with Justin Cortelyou with no overdubs. Penn enlisted Joe LaPorta to master the recordings. At the time he couldn’t stop listening to David Bowie’s Blackstar which Joe had mastered.
Chris Penn and Good Records have spared no expense with the packaging enlisting Gotta Groove Records, Imprint Indie Printing, and Ross Ellis to bring “Live From The Astoturf, Alice Cooper” to life in grand fashion. The 7” is a 45rpm big hole colored vinyl, shrinkwrapped gatefold foil board jacket w/ hype sticker, metallic ink stamped numbered, 6 bonus 5″x7″ double sided art prints, printed inner sleeve, double sided credits insert DETAIL OF COLOR VARIANTS (1150 white, 1150 pink, 100 black, and 100 split color pink/white with autographed art prints by the 4 surviving original members).” It has exquisite attention to detail paying homage to the original single as well as LITD.
Chris Penn’s feet haven’t touched the ground since October 6, 2015 . He not only had his favorite group reunite and play his record store but has the opportunity to release music from his favorite band. Let’s hope he doesn’t hit his head too hard with his Vans to make sure this isn’t a dream.
Do we have any in stock? Check here!
Neal Smith photo by Mark Bowman
Photo by Mark Bowman
Alice Cooper at Good Records in Dallas, Texas.
photographs by Allison V. Smith, Mark Bowman
“There are no accidents. We were playing a show in Dallas and had a night off the same night Dennis, Neal and Mike were doing a signing down the street. The guys were doing a small show to promote Dennis’ new book. Of course, I was going to be there! We are all still close and I want to play with the original guys any chance I get!” -Alice Cooper
“Us getting back on stage and playing those songs, it’s like riding a bicycle.” “At Good Records… That was us before the Alice character took over… It’s hard to overlook how good the songs are.” “Alice walked out and everybody was blown away. We just had a blast!” – Dennis Dunaway
“It was terrifying and at the same time it was exciting!” – Michael Bruce
“My excitement is just being with Dennis, Mike and Alice.” – Neal Smith
“Alice’s unannounced walk on took the roof off the building, and our brains.” – Unsuspecting Attendee