Alice Cooper - Live On Tour | Backstage | Private - Photos 1973-1975
Wolfgang "Bubi" Heilemann
It's a rare thing to find a book on Alice Cooper. They don't come along very often and the ones that do seem to disappear off the shelves a relatively short time later. The classics, "Billion Dollar Baby" and "Me. Alice" have been out of print for 30 years and change hands for silly money. Even comparatively recent releases like Micheal Bruce's 'No More Nr Nice Guy' and Dale Shermans' "Collectors Guide" are now becoming harder to find. So it is nice to see a new addition to the collection in this German book of photographs from '73-'75 by Heilemann.
The large format hardback book certainly looks impressive with a striking photo of Alice, and snake, staring out at you from the cover, but open the covers and you`ll find 136 glossy pages packed with mostly previously unseen pics from a period when Alice was at the height of his success. The text is sparse, letting the images do the talking, but is in both German and English to allow the majority to be able to read a brief early biography and some scene setting information connected to the images. My only criticism is that the spine is printed the reverse way to 99% of books, reading from bottom to top, not top to bottom, but that's a minor complaint.
The show begins with the German 'School's Out' shows in 1972 but then weaves around with photos of the 'Welcome To My Nightmare' show sitting next to group shots despite the text seeming to suggest all the shots are in a chronological order. Many photos are presented across two pages for maximum effect and the quality is excellent. The 'Billion Dollar Babies' tour shots are especially interesting, showing as they do the stage show that influenced so many artists that followed in the bands footsteps.
The second section features a collection of promo shots of Alice with Yvonne, the snake, before the text moves onto the 'Billion Dollar Babies' show. There ARE errors in the text but nothing to really get too worried about, especially when it's the photographs that you're really buying the book for. Photos showing the band are rare, but most of the key theatrical parts of the show are represented including the dentists drill, the toothbrush, snake and the guillotine as well as a few backstage shots including Alice in full stage gear (including the famous leopard design boots) playing cards with Neal.
Next up is a kinda "on tour with.." section, showing photos of Alice and the band on the private plane that jetted them around the US in `73, and Alice with Dali at the launch of the hologram in New York, before we move onto the 'Welcome To My Nightmare' tour, Alice's first solo outing. Lots of photos of the plane again and Alice going through customs (with his crate of bud!) sometimes with Sheryl at his side. It's an interesting look at the more normal side of touring away from the stage image. Then we get another 'Billion Dollar Babies' photo (the same one used on the cover) before heading into some amazing shots of the 'Welcome To My Nightmare' show itself. Personally I've always especially liked pictures from this tour, the red and green of the lights looking especially striking and its no different here. The dancers, spiders, cyclops, cold ethyl etc are all featured and there's even a small shot of Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter during their guitar duel in 'Black Widow'.
The book finishes with some rare shots of Alice visiting Bravo magazine in Germany where he took a selection of fanmail and phoned up the writers, a crate of Bud again at his side.
If you are looking for a long read full of new information, this isn't the book for you, but then it isn`t meant to be. This is a collection of one photographers work over a short period of time and the images it contains are essential to any Alice Cooper fan, whether you just like the band material or prefer Alice solo. It's not cheap, but the quality of presentation is excellent and chances are you'll be kicking yourself if in a years time you discover its disappeared like all the other Alice related publications have!
Photographs by Wolfgang »Bubi« Heilemann. Co-Author: Sabine Thomas
Large format hardback, 136 pages. 100 pictures. Double-coated heavy photographic printing paper. Size: 24 x 30 cm / 9.5 x 11.8", thread-stitching, four-color throughout. ISBN 3-89602-651-8