Alice Cooper – in concert – The Fabulous Forum, Inglewood (Los Angeles) – May 11, 1973 – Band Soundboard
Alice Cooper in concert at The Forum from 1973 this week. 1973 was the watershed year, the year it all came together and Alice Cooper became the mega-star and the household name.
My first memory of the band was back in 1969 when Frank Zappa introduced Alice Cooper to Los Angeles via the Whiskey A-go-go. Signing the band to Zappa’s label Bizarre/Straight, this was a taste of what L.A. was to expect in the coming months/years. I don’t recall the audience being swayed one direction or the other; they weren’t wildly enthusiastic, nor were they ambivalent; they were taken aback by the neo-gender-bending stage presence of the band, particularly Cooper, but Frank Zappa had built a reputation on the outrageous – Bizarre and Straight boasted the likes of Larry “Wildman” Fisher as well as Captain Beefheart, so Alice Cooper was a good fit, to some. I always thought their debut album Pretties For You was wildly underrated and overlooked – but to be dead-honest, it was terribly produced. I think even Cooper disowned it for a while. Which was too bad because there was something very appealing about the band and what they were doing, which really was a precursor to Glam, while still heavily entrenched in Psych. It was a mixture that would show up in other bands only a few years later, but it really was Alice Cooper who got the ball rolling in that direction.
But when they shifted, heading into the direction of Heavy Metal and mixing that with outrageous, often fetishistic theatrics, it clicked with the larger, more mainstream audience and they became a household name almost overnight (overnight; loosely translated to four grueling years) and by 1973 were at what became the pinnacle of their success.
So this concert, from May 11, 1973 is from the tour promoting Billion Dollar Babies, released in February of that year. The ensuing tour broke U.S. box office records previously held by The Rolling Stones and included a scheduled 64 concerts in 59 cities in 90 days. The gross revenue of the tour was anticipated to be close to $20 million, but only about $4 million was achieved.
I was at this concert and remember the dramatic change in the audience between 1969 and 1973 – it was a long way from that night at The Whiskey only four years earlier.
About this recording – it’s a soundboard, meaning it’s a mix of the band, not taking the audience into consideration – so the screaming and yelling you can barely hear is that way because the emphasis is on the band, not the reaction. So it sounded at the time like there was no one else there. And you know The Forum was sold out, so it was no empty house. The other thing is the actual physical sound quality of the tape itself – its a bit rough in places, probably played a lot over the years, and it shows – drop-outs, fuzzy high-ends and distortion. It’s not going to make you turn off this recording in disgust, but it will make you wonder what’s going on at times. It also takes a while for the mix to settle down. So apologies in advance.
Still, history is not often clean and tinkly sweet – it’s rough and dirty. This is a significant concert from a pivotal period for the band and its importance rises above momentary concerns.
In short – just crank it up and enjoy the hell out of it.