Now this is a box set. There is as much rare, unreleased, b-side, soundtrack material as there is hits. Any Alice Cooper collector who doesn't own this is missing out on some real gems, unless of course you actually own all the various singles, soundtracks, etc. that have been put out since the 70's. I for one was never exactly interested in owning the Bee Gees/Peter Frampton flop Sgt. Pepper's. however, it's cool to have the Beatles track from that atrocious soundtrack. (Aerosmith's contribution was also quite good and was the only hit from that album.) Anyhow, being that this is a four disc collection I thought it appropriate to say something about each of the discs.
Disc One starts off with the humble beginnings of Vincent Furnier, as he leads his garage-rock bands the Spiders and The Nazz through some Yardbirds meets Beatles styled psychedelic rock. The name The Nazz was inspired by the Jeff Beck song "The Nazz are Blue." The band, who consisted of the same members as the Alice Cooper Group had to drop the name when Todd Rundgren used the name for his band. This was when the band changed their name and Vincent began to take on his identity as Alice Cooper. The next few tracks show the transformation from the Nazz into the Alice Cooper band. Two unreleased tracks from 1968 make their appearance here; "Nobody Likes Me" and "Levity Ball." It is from the point on that I am most interested as the whole 60's psychedelic rock was never something I could get into, although I certainly don't hate it and can appreciate the contributions to what eventually became heavy metal. Tracks 9-21 on this disc are the Alice Cooper Group at their finest. With the exception of the Nazz and Spiders material, the only real rarity on this disc is a drunken studio jam called "Call It Evil." One thing interesting in the booklet is that Alice and/or someone who had something to do with the writing of each song comments on each individual song. I found it interesting that "Desperado" was written for and dedicated to Alice's friend Jim Morrison (the Doors).
Disc Two continues with some of the best material from the Alice Cooper Group with material from 'Billion Dollar Babies' and "Muscle of Love." Track 7 is an unreleased demo titled "Respect for Sleepers" which is actually an early version of "Muscle of Love" with completely different lyrics. This disc also represents the beginning of Alice Cooper the solo artist with material from "Welcome to My Nightmare" through "Alice Cooper Goes To Hell." "I'm Flash" and "Space Pirates" are both from a compilation cd titled "Flash Fearless vs. The Zorg Woman Parts 5 & 6" and features such artists as Keith Moon and John Entwistle (The Who) and Bill Bruford (King Crimson/Yes). Not much more to speak of as far as unreleased material on this disc, but overall a more solid discs worth of material than disc one.
Disc three is literally full of rarities. "No Tricks" and "For Britain Only" are both very rare b-tracks. "For Britain Only" was released on a rare 12" vinyl single recorded to thank the UK fans for the successful 1982 tour. On the B side of the single was "Who Do We think We Are" and "Under my Wheels" recorded live on that tour. No less than six of these songs were recorded for and only released on soundtracks. The most interesting of these being the aforementioned "Because" which was actually recorded by the Bee Gees with Alice on vocals. "Road Rats" is from the motion picture "Roadie", "I Am the Future" from Class of '84, "Identity Crisises", "See Me in the Mirror" are both from the movie Monster Dog, and the last track "Hard Rock Summer" from Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives. There is also another demo included here in the coolest song title in the bunch, "Look at You Over There, Ripping the Sawdust From My Teddy Bear". The rest of the tracks are some of the better material from Alice's mid-to-late 70's/early 80's material, although there is only one track each from "Zipper Catches Skin" ('82), "Special Forces" ('81) and "Dada" ('83). "I Love America", from "Dada" is a cool song musically and has some of the most humorous, yet biting critical lyrics.
Disc four showcases Alice's return to the top as the king of shock rock and hair metal. This disc also features several rarities including a heavy demo version of "He's Back" recorded for Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives, but never used. The actual version is also included, but this version is much softer, more keyboard oriented than the demo version. As box producer Brian Nelson notes in the book," No one seems to be sure why this version wasn't used on the album. Someone at the record company got scared." Parts of this version were later used in the song "Trick Bag" on "Constrictor." From the motion picture "The Decline of Western Civilization Part II, The Metal Years" there is a re-recorded version of "Under My Wheels" with Guns n Roses. Also, "I Got A Line on You" is from the movie Iron Eagle II. "Only My Heart Talking" is a power ballad that features back-up vocals by Steven Tyler. Also Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer from Aerosmith lend their talents to this songs as well. "Fire" is a Jimi Hendrix cover that was only released as a limited edition b-side. "Hands of Death" is a song Alice recorded with Rob Zombie. I'm surprised "Be Crool to your School", the song Alice recorded with Twisted Sister didn't also show up on this box. The remainder of the material is mostly from "Contrictor" ('86) through "The Last Temptation" ('94). One other interesting history note here is that the track "Feed My Frankenstein" had both Steve Vai and Joe Satriani recording together for the first time, a friendship that has lasted over a decade now with several tours and albums together.
The book itself is awesome. 84 full color pages of photos, essays, a complete discography, commentaries, and quotes. Overall, one of the best box sets ever released, plenty of material for the collector or the casual fan. AMG even states that this set is, "one of the truly satisfying and definitive box sets of the late '90s..."