Dennis Dunaway book reviews

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darkmenace
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Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by darkmenace » Wed Jun 10, 2015 9:22 pm

I was going to post this comment under the "book signing" thread, but I thought it deserves it's own topic since there will be other book signings.

I've read about half the book so far (and half only takes the reader through Easy Action). A few quick observations:

SPOILER ALERT ***

Be ready for yet another interpretation of key events, for example how Shep got introduced to the band (and it doesn't involve Hendrix or Chambers) and who brought the chicken to the Toronto show.

Dennis comes through as a nice, even-handed guy in his writing. It's a huge contrast when he takes a dig, making it stand out. It's clear he feels betrayed by Alice and his comment on page 72 is very powerful. I haven't even gotten to the band splitting up yet or the Dali chapter.

Based on my reading so far this is the best book written about Alice Cooper. You really get the feeling you're there with the guys in the band. You also get the feeling that Dennis is shining a light of clarity on some of the often-told stories. Look forward to hearing other comments.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by Ted Sallis » Thu Jun 11, 2015 2:20 pm

Thanks for starting this new topic. I bought the book on Tues. and have started reading it. So far I certainly agree with your interpretation of how Dennis comes through in his writing and yes, as far as I have read it is the best AC book written.

Ted

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by darkmenace » Sat Jun 13, 2015 7:56 pm

SPOILERS AHEAD

I guess I read the book faster than some others, I'm a fast reader. This book would be mainly interesting for fans of the band and probably not much beyond that, but I hope it sells well for Dennis's sake.

OVERALL

The first half of the book is loaded with details and stories and this tails off in the second half. Perhaps Dennis didn't want to simply retell stories about their glory years that had been told a million times before. The interesting parts are where Dennis's perceptions of events differ from others.

One reason Alice's solo career has not had the edge the band years had was Dennis and his contribution, which is summed up in his statement: "For me, it was about the need for artistic expression." For Dennis, artistic expression meant the desire for Alice Cooper to be unique musically and visually. "...my mission to make Alice Cooper as different as possible. I pushed for bigger builds, more unique chord changes, more dissonant notes, and more left turns without signals."

Dennis brought a lot to the Alice mythos, it could be argued he was the heart and soul of the whole thing. But, because he was shy and unassuming, his contributions could easily be overlooked and overwhelmed by the stronger and louder egos in the band. But without Dennis it wouldn't have been the same. Dennis was instrumental in:

1. encouraging Vince to play characters to get his persona across, which made all the difference.
2. writing songs that got darker (influenced by Alice's performance of Fields of Regret) in order for the character to get stronger.
3. establishing the classic visual look with the spidery eyes.
4. helping establish the musical edge of the band.
5. he co-founded the band along with Vince.

That he could be left out of any decision to keep moving forward (Alice and management) without even the courtesy of a discussion with Dennis directly is incredibly thoughtless. But Dennis says this far better than I could on page 72 when he talked about his loyalty to Vince.

Michael and Neal had announced they were working on solo albums and Glen was not functional, so I can almost see how they could be "excluded" from the discussions. But Dennis wasn't working on a solo album and based on everything said above, it seems unconscionable not to keep him in the loop. I have my theories on how this progressed, but they are just theories.

SPECIFICS

Great line (68): "We need a hit." "Take a hit then," says Glen, offering a joint to John Tatum.

Verification: Dennis verifies that Vince came up with the name Alice Cooper.

Irony: Vince would later become a war hawk, but as a youngster tried anything to get out of serving. Funny how people are war hawks when they don't put their own lives on the line.

New Twist: Dennis says Shep was introduced to the band due to a chance encounter with Cindy Smith at a boutique. A lot less sexy than the Hendrix story, but probably true.

Interesting Difference: Instead of being a coming out party for the band (as per Super Duper), Dennis makes it sound like the Saugatuck Pop Festival was pretty much a disaster and even Alice said about the show: "That was the worst one yet."

Chicken Story: Dennis states what I always suspected, that the band brought the chicken to the show.

Perspective: I agree with Dennis the many times he states that mystery should have surrounded the Alice character and the band and I agree that this eroded as "Alice talked about golf and was schmoozing with old-timers." (174) It must have galled Dennis to hear Alice say (in Super Duper) that Bob Ezrin was the only one that understood Alice Cooper. If anyone, that distinction belongs to Dennis, perhaps even more than Alice.

Muscle of Love: I like some of the original thoughts about "costumes with stains all over them," and the album in a "brown paper wrapper." I agree with Dennis that the sailor suits were out of place and it's a shame the band was excluded from the artistic direction of Alice Cooper. This is also true for the horrible decisions made in the GTSYAAC movie. Speaking of...

Good to See You Again: The idea for surrealistic dream sequences would have been great! "We wanted to get Salvador Dali involved." This is genius and this is a guy that understood how to maintain the artistic credibility of Alice Cooper. Amazing that Shep and management marginalized him.

Didn't Know: that Dennis actually had a chance to meet Dali, that was good news.

Man with the Golden Gun: I disagree with Dennis on the greatness of this song, but mainly his idea that it fits with the Alice Cooper image. James Bond is about as connected with the dark Alice image as sailor suits, golf, and Hollywood Squares, all of which Dennis saw as a departure.

Muscle of Love: Dennis says "The fans seemed to love the album," (259) and I believe in general he is incorrect.

WTMN: I agree with his critical observations of the direction of Alice's solo career including the dance routines and "fluffy monsters." He says it well, "The co-designers of that dark Alice character were no longer around to enforce his critical seriousness." Truer words were never spoken.

Slam: Occasionally Dennis delivers a tough slam to Alice (and Shep). The true stinger was on page 72, but he also disagrees about the band not wanting to do theatrics as the rationale for the break-up, but the way he puts it: "...the same bizarre stories have been retold and perfected like some drunk's old alibis." Ouch.

Excellent book, probably the closest we'll get to the truth about the story of Alice Cooper. Dennis is nice, some have said too nice, but this evokes sympathy from the reader. It would be a sad story except Dennis is such a growth-minded, positive person, that he turned a negative experience into a positive one by moving on in his life without allowing rancor or bitterness to define him. Perhaps, in the end, he emerged the strongest and most human of them all.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by Si » Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:29 pm

darkmenace wrote:SPOILERS AHEAD
New Twist: Dennis says Shep was introduced to the band due to a chance encounter with Cindy Smith at a boutique. A lot less sexy than the Hendrix story, but probably true.
This isn`t a new twist. It's what happened and has been told many times before. It's just not the story Alice and Shep tell (and they tell different versions from each other whihc have also changed over the years!). There is a outtake on the Super Duper DVD where Cindy tells this story, and it has been verified by several others including Joe Greenberg.
darkmenace wrote: Chicken Story: Dennis states what I always suspected, that the band brought the chicken to the show.
Again we have known this for years. There are photos of chickens from other shows.
It's just that the old story is the best tale.
darkmenace wrote: Slam: Occasionally Dennis delivers a tough slam to Alice (and Shep). The true stinger was on page 72, but he also disagrees about the band not wanting to do theatrics as the rationale for the break-up, but the way he puts it: "...the same bizarre stories have been retold and perfected like some drunk's old alibis." Ouch.
The whole band have been denying the "no theatrics" for the last 30+ years. It was just a convenient excuse to give the press when Alice didn`t go back.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by darkmenace » Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:41 pm

Thanks to Si for clarifying. I'm glad Dennis's interpretation of events becomes more "official" now that it's in print. Seems Alice and Shep keep ignoring reality for the purpose of a story.

"There are photos of chickens from other shows.
It's just that the old story is the best tale."

Except, for some reason, Shep added a new twist to the myth by saying he threw the chicken on stage instead of someone from the audience doing it. Then Alice followed along as if that was news from Shep. Why do you think Shep was made part of the story?

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by darkmenace » Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:47 pm

"The whole band have been denying the "no theatrics" for the last 30+ years."

By the way, this is something I knew. My point was the way Dennis worded his displeasure in his book.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by A_MichaelUK » Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:48 pm

From Si:
"This isn`t a new twist. It's what happened and has been told many times before.

Yes, exactly. However, as Bob Ezrin once suggested, it isn't impossible that both versions are true.

>It's just not the story Alice and Shep tell (and they tell different versions from each other whihc have also changed over the years!).

I think Hendrix never had anything to do with it and that Lester Chambers would have had some involvement, but I assume we all know and understand why Hendrix was brought into it.

>The whole band have been denying the "no theatrics" for the last 30+ years. It was just a convenient excuse to give the press when Alice didn`t go back.

Yes, exactly although there is that section in "Billion Dollar Baby" where Michael and Neal make it clear (at least Michael does) that they were tired of that.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by A_MichaelUK » Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:51 pm

From darkmenace:
"Seems Alice and Shep keep ignoring reality for the purpose of a story."

No - it's called creating a myth and a legend. It is very common in show - business.

>Why do you think Shep was made part of the story?

That would be because the documentary that Mike Myers was making was about Shep, probably.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by darkmenace » Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:56 pm

"Yes, exactly although there is that section in "Billion Dollar Baby" where Michael and Neal make it clear (at least Michael does) that they were tired of that."

Dennis even implies it in the new book by suggesting they might go on tour without theatrics just for a change after MOL. I think the band was overwhelmed by a lot of things and were channeling their frustration in all directions.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by A_MichaelUK » Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:43 pm

From darkmenace:
"Dennis even implies it in the new book by suggesting they might go on tour without theatrics just for a change after MOL."

Maybe that's what Alice's point was.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by Marcelocooper » Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:38 pm

Si wrote:
darkmenace wrote:SPOILERS AHEAD
New Twist: Dennis says Shep was introduced to the band due to a chance encounter with Cindy Smith at a boutique. A lot less sexy than the Hendrix story, but probably true.
This isn`t a new twist. It's what happened and has been told many times before. It's just not the story Alice and Shep tell (and they tell different versions from each other whihc have also changed over the years!). There is a outtake on the Super Duper DVD where Cindy tells this story, and it has been verified by several others including Joe Greenberg.
That's the version told on Me, Alice, as well.
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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by Toronto Bob » Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:01 pm

Irony: Vince would later become a war hawk, but as a youngster tried anything to get out of serving. Funny how people are war hawks when they don't put their own lives on the line.
Unfortunately, an all too common irony with the American conservative (see Dick Cheney and Sergeant Poopy Pants Ted Nugget)

Thanks for the review darkmenace - I look forward to reading this and it seems this will be the definitive ACG book.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by mr.barlow » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:39 pm

In regards to Dennis' comments regarding "dance routines and fluffy monsters", it's hard to argue that it became a far cry from the original dark intent of the character.

After the huge success of Billion Dollar Babies the cat was out of the bag so to speak. Alice Cooper was no longer a dark, scary and subversive band, but rather a mutli-million dollar generating mainstream act. Along with that came the pressures of maintaining it.

I think Alice and Shep wanted to further mainstream the character and soften it up. The Welcome To My Nightmare album and tv special was the first step. The tv special was.aimed directly at children and teenagers. Is there anyone out there who actually finds it scary or subversive? Then or now?
After the enormous success of the WTMN album and tour they continued to follow this plan. By this time Alice was becoming not only a rock star but a pop culture celebrity and he was starting to show up everywhere and pal around with the who's who of entertainment. This was due to the mainstreaming of the character. It was a plan that worked incredibly--for a while. The audience he was now catering to didn't want musical art--they wanted entertainment--and he gave it to them.

Fast forward to 1978. Alice was knee deep in Hollywood schlock and it started to get away from him. It was overkill which led to the Maurice Esgargot debacle and in there was The Muppet Show appearance.

I would argue that the Muppet Show appearance was a great idea and it brought him to the attention of a whole new generation. Ask any person who was a kid in that era (I was one) and they ALL remember Alice being on the Muppet Show--some even "discovered" him because of that show. It's corny, ridiculous and some would say awful, but definitely Alice. It fits his personality and it was a load of harmless fun. I would bet that the appearance on The Muppet Show gets more hits on YouTube than nearly all of the live stuff that's on that site.

The problem was that once the edge was lost it's hard, if not impossible, to get it back. The fact is that Alice didn't lose the edge in 1975 or 1978, but it was lost once the band hit #1 with B$B. Just look at the Billion Dollar Babies photo shoot--these were no longer weird cross-dressers singing about dead babies, they were happy, some would say arrogant in your face millionaires who also happened to be on the cover of Forbes magazine.

Once you hit that point you have to find a way to continue it. Muscle Of Love to me was a decent album but to the public it was more of a step backwards. The band were the biggest thing on the planet and they followed up B$B with a lackluster album with confusing packaging, and the sailor suits. People were expecting more--and Alice and Shep knew it. The whole thing had become larger than life and you had to give them something larger than life. WTMN was it. Alice Cooper was now a mainstream act--so give the people what they want. It worked for Alice--for a while--and then it ended--pretty badly I might add.

Again--the mainstreaming and softening of the character was a blessing and a curse. It pigeonholed Alice into being a lovable villain. It's something he could never shake--and I think finally came to terms with and embraced it in 1986.

It's my opinion that the only time Alice ever again captured the true essence of the original incarnation of the character was with Special Forces in 1981 and that tour. I think he may have even surpassed the sheer wickedness and weirdness of the early days with that tour and look. But--again--the fans didn't want Alice to be weird, subversive or nasty. They wanted him to be the nice guy in make-up who scares you in the same way as the haunted house at the amusement park. A scary ride that leaves you laughing at the end.

Dennis has a lot of valid points and criticisms. I also think that if Alice continued with Dennis in 1975 we may have had a more darker--and maybe even better--WTMN, I also think the schlock factor would have been kept under control. I think Alice would be the first to admit that some of the decisions he made in his solo career were not the best in hindsight--BUT--he made them based on the situation at the time. Both he and Shep took risks--some worked and some didn't, but it's hard to argue that the softening of the character was not one of the best decisions they ever made--it's the reason why Alice has had a career for the last 40 years.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by mr.barlow » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:44 pm

Toronto Bob wrote:
Irony: Vince would later become a war hawk, but as a youngster tried anything to get out of serving. Funny how people are war hawks when they don't put their own lives on the line.
Unfortunately, an all too common irony with the American conservative (see Dick Cheney and Sergeant Poopy Pants Ted Nugget)

Thanks for the review darkmenace - I look forward to reading this and it seems this will be the definitive ACG book.
Before I leave reply I want to clear it with the moderators. I would be very willing to get into a political discussion with Toronto Bob--on the record--in regards to his above comments. Not done in PM--but here where everyone could read it.

But I will hold off until I get permission as I know the rules regarding discussing politics and religion on thise forum. Also, if anyone on here thinks I'm a long winded gas bag on Alice, just wait until you get me talking politics.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by Si » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:13 pm

mr.barlow wrote: Before I leave reply I want to clear it with the moderators. I would be very willing to get into a political discussion with Toronto Bob--on the record--in regards to his above comments. Not done in PM--but here where everyone could read it.

But I will hold off until I get permission as I know the rules regarding discussing politics and religion on thise forum. Also, if anyone on here thinks I'm a long winded gas bag on Alice, just wait until you get me talking politics.
As the subject of the thread is DD's book I can`t see how such a discussion is relevant.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by mr.barlow » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:25 pm

I agree therefore I'll simply state what I find is ironic how peace loving liberals will stand idly by and watch as groups like ISIS kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people--including countless Christians--like Alice--simply for having differing opinions and beliefs.

Alice is a devout Christian and I'm sure the ongoing genocidal holocaust against Christians in the Middle-East and elsewhere by Muslim groups like ISIS factors into his "war hawk" mentality.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by killer wolf » Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:35 am

"kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people--including countless Christians--like Alice--simply for having differing opinions and beliefs. "

cough cough Spanish Inquisition/Crusades etc etc cough.


as for the book, i might pick it up in due course, but the more the whole "truth" thing goes on, the less i'm interested. a few decades ago i was happy to be enetertained by Alice and his stories, then as the years go by you find out there's a lot of lies/exaggerations etc etc that i personally find totally unnecessary. i'm all for humourous embellishments, but, eg, i still have a vid of an interview where he says his stories of golfing were just a "really horrible rumour" he put out. he doesn't strike me as anyone who needs to be embarrassed by stuff he does, so what was the point of that? it gets to the point i just don't believe him or the stories and i find that sad.
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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by A_MichaelUK » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:19 am

From mr.barlow:
"The problem was that once the edge was lost it's hard, if not impossible, to get it back."

Exactly but aslso, as I have said many times, it would have been impossible to maintain that which partly explains why Alice appeared on "Hollywood Squares" or why "Good To See You Again, Alice Cooper" was as silly as it was. Is there anyone here who still thinks Marilyn Manson is scary? You can argue that the softening of the image maybe happened just a bit too early and that's possible, but it was going to happen.

> I think he may have even surpassed the sheer wickedness and weirdness of the early days with that tour and look.

Yes and it was a comment and reflection on a part of American culture at that time as well which really gave it a lot of resonance.

>I think Alice would be the first to admit that some of the decisions he made in his solo career were not the best in hindsight--BUT--he made them based on the situation at the time.

Exactly - everyone's an expert when they have the luxury of being able to look back on what did or didn't happen.

>it's hard to argue that the softening of the character was not one of the best decisions they ever made

As you suggest though, it had to happen, so it did.

>it's the reason why Alice has had a career for the last 40 years.

Exactly.
Last edited by A_MichaelUK on Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:34 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by A_MichaelUK » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:25 am

From killer wolf:
"he doesn't strike me as anyone who needs to be embarrassed by stuff he does, so what was the point of that?"

He was obviously being ironic and you missed it.

> it gets to the point i just don't believe him or the stories and i find that sad.

No, it just means you might not be as tuned into his sense of humour and the Alice Cooper persona as other people might be. This isn't Bono or Bruce Springsteen we're discsussing. He isn't trying to be 'authentic' or consistent. I thought that was obvious.

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Re: Dennis Dunaway book reviews

Post by philouze » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:20 pm

My ex just bought me the book for my forthcoming birhday (next saturday)
I'm quite stoked, to be honest..
I'll let you know what I think of it when I read it.
I know my opinion is not worth a rabbit's piss drop but anyway...
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