SPECIAL FORCES

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pitkin88
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SPECIAL FORCES

Post by pitkin88 » Wed May 15, 2019 11:59 pm

There is a Special Forces thread over at the Steve Hoffman Forums that contained this interesting members post:

As luck would have it, I was around for the recording of this album, or rather parts of it, & I'll offer a few things not yet mentioned, history perspective.

First off yes coke freebasing had recently been invented or become popular among the hip & cool of Los Angeles... nearly everybody was smoking this stuff like candy on the album.

Producer Richie Podolor a quirky, anxiety ridden, short little guy a la Phil Spector, had gained fame first as a musical prodigy in childhood with classical study, then as a teen & young man during the late 50s-early 60s surf rock craze, playing surf guitar on smash hits like Sandy Nelson's Teen Beat & Let There Be Drums, as a surf instrumentalist, guitarist under the name Richie Allen he did a series of surf albums, the most revered being Stranger In Durango..from 1960-61, Podolor played, sang, co-produced on legendary hits like Hondells Go little Honda etc. He really came to fame around 68-73 producing enormous hits for Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly & many others...

It was during that period circa 73, Alice & Podolor discussed him producing the Billion Dollar Babies album, leaving the Bob Ezrin Team. To do that... well it didn't happen & Special Forces was the end result.

By 1981, whenever it was, not only was Alice coked up on freebase, but Podolor & longtime partner engineer Bill Cooper were too, & 50% of the people dropping by. Some pals & I helped set up various new types of drum machines & new gizmos & witnessed the goings on. Podolor & Alice had both dipped on the charts for a few years & hoped it would be a return to the top 10. Sadly dope got in the way..

Unusually Podolor operated out of his family owned studio, a converted Chinese restaurant on Ventura Blvd. A small cramped building next to a hamburger stand..also often present during this time were band's 20/20 & Phil Seymour, also on coke & booze & whatever....

A tragedy, because of drugs... everybody worked & showed up & got it done...we all thought the songs were great vintage style Alice, but for the new wave era..Prettiest Cop On The Block, Who Do You Think Are, etc etc...Alice's style & Podolors musical background & experience in making mega-hits..

But it failed commercially & critically. Limping in the bottom of the top 200 albums. Most big Alice fans I've met over the years aren't even aware it exists. Personally I think it's good, it was an attempt to make a modern new wave album, but with all the Alice trademarks.

I think maybe it didn't sound like Alice to his fans.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by pitkin88 » Thu May 16, 2019 12:04 am

There is really not much known about the black out albums so it's nice to hear from someone who was actually there. Not sure what to make of the Ezrin BDB's thing though.

A book on The Black Out Years would be a terrific read.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by del » Thu May 16, 2019 6:45 am

It would.

Sure Alice and co. we're indulging in the substances of the day and memories are flaky at best. Sure there is probably a level of regret, embarrassment and pain from the period that some would choose not to revisit but it's quite an achievement as to how so many people have said so little over the years.

Of course, the issue now would be that anything written relating to a period approaching 40 years ago is going to be pretty unreliable unless corroborated. Still it would be great to see someone at least piece together the bits that do exist and then find a bit more to flesh the period out a bit.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by mr.barlow » Thu May 30, 2019 1:32 am

That is pretty much the scenario I heard about during the recording of that album. It only got worse with Zipper. You can see where the album could have went. I believe Duane Hitchings was brought in to be the main writing partner and it only produced a few songs. I believe most of that the members of that band played together in various bands and projects over the years and Pinera was in Iron Butterfly--which is likely why Podolor brought him in. I'm guessing Podolor assembled that band as I thin k he worked at some point with each if not all members. Also, I believe there were several uncredited people who played on the album.

The writing was suffering due to the drugs and general mayhem which was taking place. Thus the inclusion of the fake live Generation Landslide and the thrown together (I think lyrically unfinished) "You Want It You Got It". I believe this was created out of a jam at the sessions and Alice never finished the lyrics so he basically ad libbed the spoken word lyrics. The inclusion of the cover "7 & 7 Is" also filled in a gap (and it became a defining version of the song--and one of the best on the album).

I believe the concept of Skeletons In My Closet was written with the stage show in mind to drag out the dancing skeletons from the Some Folks routine for one more go around. I think the album started out with promise but by the end of the sessions it became almost a salvage job. When it was given to WB they knew they had a bomb on their hands and that Alice had become a walking nightmare and gave the album nearly no promotion.

Also, remember that the original version was to contain "Look At You Over There...." and it was pulled at the last minute. That alone shows you how messed up the decision process was as that song was by no means close to anything on the album. WB knew it was a botched project and didn't even bother to make new album covers---or even cover up the song title as was done on later cd releases.

The tour was somewhat successful and to me was Alice at his most original and most vicious. It was this period that Alice was actually genuinely threatening and unnerving. It's my favorite period of Alice. The Special Forces look it to me what an "Alice Cooper" should look and act like.

From what I hear over the year the behind the scenes of the tour was pure insanity. Pure drug fueled insanity. Some of the stories I heard are incredibly sad. And it wouldn't get any better until after Zipper. Dada was the rebirth of Alice, and his finest album to date.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by VinceLeeRose » Thu May 30, 2019 3:18 am

mr.barlow wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 1:32 am

From what I hear over the year the behind the scenes of the tour was pure insanity. Pure drug fueled insanity. Some of the stories I heard are incredibly sad. And it wouldn't get any better until after Zipper. Dada was the rebirth of Alice, and his finest album to date.
What were some of the stories you've heard? I've only heard one from one of the guitarists on the tour, but I can't seem to find it. It was maybe 10 years ago before the drug use was confirmed.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by mr.barlow » Thu May 30, 2019 3:33 am

they were told to me with the confidence they would not be repeated. It was a crazy period. I will leave it up to them if they ever want to tell them publicly.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by mestreech » Thu May 30, 2019 2:15 pm

Welcome back Mr.Barlow.
You were greatly missed.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by tuneylune » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:23 am

mestreech wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 2:15 pm
Welcome back Mr.Barlow.
You were greatly missed.
Quite true...always enjoy your insightful comments.

With this recent thread plus earlier ones, decided to give SF a through listening this past weekend. While I still consider it to be the least of the four "Blackout Albums", it's still better than it's given credit for. All of Side One rocks, "You're a Movie" :laugh: and "Vicious Rumors" :rock: are all right as well.
In the same vein, decided to fully watch the 10/10/81 BW show and pretty damn good all around. As MB points out, there is more of a meanacing aspect to the character and he certainly looked demented at the time. Still the standard humor throughout, especially towards the end; letting his Hair down, "God Bless America...and Me!" and "NO BLUES!". Band is rocking as well, although Mike should have been fed as he really does a lot of the Jimi manauver.
A period more :alice: fans should check out.
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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by patrick » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:35 pm

I came across these very sharp Special Forces bits , that I never saw before... ( sorry if it has been posted before)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7LoKr9EyyI
special forces medly with tom snyder
you really wouldn't understand..

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by pitkin88 » Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:57 pm

How great would it be if he performed the 4 black out albums in full? Bit like Sparks doing all their albums to date one at a time.

Those albums are very short but he could do two one night and two the next. Encores, For Britain Only and Look at you over there.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by mr.barlow » Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:53 pm

If he ever does that I will buy your ticket and plane fare and I will do the same for Amuk. I will also find it in my heart to find a way to get an Old Broom to the show.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by Saint&Sinner » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:17 am

I have a soft spot for those albums but that would be too much even for me!

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by jacknifejohnny » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:26 am

What’s the odds of him going on a live tv show these days and performing 2 or 3 new tracks ....zero....shame

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by pitkin88 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 6:11 am

jacknifejohnny wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:26 am
What’s the odds of him going on a live tv show these days and performing 2 or 3 new tracks ....zero....shame
Same for anyone. There are not too many shows these days and MTV is not about music ( not that is was any good anyway ) anymore. There's nothing stopping him playing live in the studio and putting it up on YouTube though.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by Type-O » Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:30 am

The entire album feels a bit like a fever nightmare. Twisted and bizarre. You can hear just how unhealthy people involved were.
Personally I've always loved Seven & Seven is. Great cover.
Look Good In Rags and You're a Movie are fun tracks but not much more than that.
And I'm almost willing to bet that Vicious Rumours is a left over track from Flush The Fashion.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by Si » Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:35 am

Type-O wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:30 am
And I'm almost willing to bet that Vicious Rumours is a left over track from Flush The Fashion.
If you check the writing credits it would seem unlikely. It's a Mike Pinera song, who wasn't onboard for FTF. :)

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by Type-O » Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:42 am

Si wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:35 am
Type-O wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:30 am
And I'm almost willing to bet that Vicious Rumours is a left over track from Flush The Fashion.
If you check the writing credits it would seem unlikely. It's a Mike Pinera song, who wasn't onboard for FTF. :)
Haha, good thing I added that I was almost willing to bet. Still, it really sounds like a FTF song.

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by Toronto Bob » Tue Jul 09, 2019 7:59 pm

pitkin88 wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:57 pm
How great would it be if he performed the 4 black out albums in full? Bit like Sparks doing all their albums to date one at a time.

Those albums are very short but he could do two one night and two the next. Encores, For Britain Only and Look at you over there.
You. me and about 500 Alice fans world wide would love it. Maybe Alice could do a dinner theater tour

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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by Daggers & Contracts » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:50 am

Toronto Bob wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 7:59 pm
pitkin88 wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:57 pm
How great would it be if he performed the 4 black out albums in full? Bit like Sparks doing all their albums to date one at a time.

Those albums are very short but he could do two one night and two the next. Encores, For Britain Only and Look at you over there.
You. me and about 500 Alice fans world wide would love it. Maybe Alice could do a dinner theater tour
Ask those 500 to chip in for Petrol & rooms... You may be onto something. ;)
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Re: SPECIAL FORCES

Post by pitkin88 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:44 am

Type-O wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:30 am
The entire album feels a bit like a fever nightmare. Twisted and bizarre. You can hear just how unhealthy people involved were.
Personally I've always loved Seven & Seven is. Great cover.
Look Good In Rags and You're a Movie are fun tracks but not much more than that.
And I'm almost willing to bet that Vicious Rumours is a left over track from Flush The Fashion.

Look Good In Rags sounded a lot like Blondies Atomic. The one song I could live without is the pointless remake of Generation Landslide.

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