SickthingsUK: From The Inside

The last Alice Cooper album of the 70s is a tour-de-force of slick hard rock. Co-written by fellow alcohol victim Bernie Taupin the album describes some of the characters Alice met during his stay in hospital and originally came in a fabulous fold out sleeve that depicted them. There are lots of Cooper classics on offer including the sexy 'Nurse Rozetta', the romantic 'How You Gonna See Me Now' (based on a letter Alice wrote to his wife from hospital), 'Serious' (which Alice has mentioned as one of his favourite songs ever) and the stunning epic closer 'Inmates (We're All Crazy').


November 28th 1978

Track listing

  1. From The Inside (Cooper, Taupin, Wagner, Foster)(3:55)
  2. Wish I Were Born In Beverly Hills (Cooper, Taupin, Wagner)(3:35)
  3. The Quiet Room (Cooper, Taupin, Wagner)(3:52)
  4. Nurse Rozetta (Cooper, Taupin, Foster, Lukather)(4:16)
  5. Millie And Billie (Cooper, Taupin, Roberts)(4:10)
  6. Serious (Cooper, Taupin, Foster, Lukather)(2.42)
  7. How You Gonna See Me Now (Cooper, Taupin, Wagner)(3:54)
  8. For Veronica's Sake (Cooper, Taupin, Wagner)(3:35)
  9. Jackknife Johnny (Cooper, Taupin, Wagner)(3:42)
  10. Inmates (We're All Crazy) (Cooper, Taupin, Wagner)(5:03)

Musicians

  • Alice Cooper - Vocals
  • Dick Wagner - Guitars
  • Davey Johnstone - Guitars
  • Jefferson Kewley - Guitars
  • Steve Lukather - Guitars
  • Rick Nielsen - Guitar on 'Serious'
  • Jay 'Wah Wah' Graydon - Guitars
  • Kenny Passareli - Bass
  • Dave Hungate - Bass (2,4,7)
  • Dee Murray - Bass (1)
  • Lee Skiar - Bass
  • Rick Shlosser - Drums
  • Dennis Conway - Drums
  • Michael Ricciardella - Drums
  • Jim Keltner - Percussion
  • David Foster - Keyboards
  • Fred Mandel - Keyboards
  • Robbie King - Keyboards
  • Marcy Levy - 'Millie'
  • Backing Vocals - Kiki Dee, Bill Champlin, Maurice White, Flo and Eddie, Tom Kelly, Davey Johnstone,
    Bobby Kimball, Marcy Levy, Sheryl Cooper, The Totally Committed Choir.

Sleeve Notes

Produced By David Foster
Executive PRoducer: Shep Gordon
Engineers: Humberto Gatica, Keith Olsen, David De Vore, Tom Knox, Howard Steele
Recorded in Hollywood California at:

  • Davien Sound studios
  • Cherokee Recording Studios
  • Hollywood Sound Recorders Inc.
  • Kendun Recorders
  • Studio 55, Los Angeles
Mixed at Sound City Studios, Sunset Sound, and Crystal Sound, Hollywood
Mastered at Kendun Recorders and Capitol Mastering
Synthesizer Programing: Jay Graydon, Steve Porcaro
Strings conducted by Frank DeCaro
Photography: Alan Dockery
Front Sleeve Photo: Lauren Kinde
Album Concept and Design: Pacific Eye and Ear

Album Notes - (Detailed release information)

Fresh out of hospital and newly sober Alice began work on 'From The Inside' in early 1978 with an abundance of ideas. This stay in rehab had brought him into contact with all sorts of weird and wonderful characters just waiting to have songs written about them. He'd also became close friends with Bernie Taupin, famous as the lyricist for Elton John (who's guitarist, bassist and drummer Alice hired for the forthcoming second leg of the 'King Of The Silver Screen' tour). Taupin was an old drinking buddy, and also a recovering alcoholic at the time so the pair bonded over that, and later other less healthy things.

Taupin was also useful as a prop. Alice was feeling very unsure of himself when he left hospital. The 'Alice Cooper' character he had played for so long had been, he thought, fueled by the alcohol. Could he still tap into that now he was sober? And what of Sheryl, the love of his life, who had only ever known the drunken Alice. Would she still want him. It's been suggested (by archivist and friend Brian Nelson for one) that Taupin's actual creative input on 'From The Inside' was relatively minimal, but his presence was likely vital to help Alice get back in the swing of things and form his ideas into songs. Whatever the truth, Taupin got co-writing credits on every song, and probably deserved it.


The press ad for 'How You Gonna See Me Now' featured both Alice and Bernie Taupin.

The other big change on 'From The Inside' was the absence of Bob Ezrin. This time Alice turned to David Foster, another Canadian. At the time it was maybe an odd choice, as Foster's hard rock credentials weren't exactly proven. In fact according to Wikipedia the only album he had produced before 'From The Inside' was an album by Bill Champlin, an American guitarist and songwriter who later joined 'Chicago'. Whatever the reasons it worked out as 'From The Inside' sounded fantastic.

Presumably it was Foster who brought in the many session musicians that are all over the album, but the touring band did get to play their part as well, all with faultless performances. And there were also the guests turns by superstar guitarists Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick and Steve Lukather from Toto, with his Toto bandmates David Hungate and Steve Porcaro also taking part in the recordings.

All this made the album perhaps the slickest production of any Alice Cooper album, very much in line with the new AOR sound that was becoming big in the US at the time with the likes of Journey, Boston and Toto all breaking through with a more commercial rock sound. But Alice's music still had a harder edge on the rockier material which saved the album.

Alice has frequently named 'From The Inside' as possibly his personal favourite of all the albums he's record.

Steve Lukather on how he came to work on 'From The Inside':

I think I was like 20 years old when I did the 'From the Inside' album, which David Foster produced. He brought me in to be his rock and roll help at the time, because you know, Dave’s not a rock and roller at all. He’s a good producer and he certainly has the pop sense, but he needed me for the other stuff and Alice was really, really generous to give me the opportunity. I got to play with Dick Wagner, who I adored, God bless his soul, and you know, Davey Johnstone [from Elton John’s band] and people like that.
I got to write a couple of songs with Bernie Taupin, Alice, Foster and myself — and work with Rick Nielsen on that, which led me into [playing] a little bit on [Cheap Trick's] 'Dream Police' record, which nobody really knows about. It led me into a lot of different things. I’m a lifelong Alice Cooper fan. I remember graduating junior high school, listening to 'School’s Out'.

Rick Shlosser recalled his work on 'From The Inside':

"I did that album quite a while ago, so it's a little difficult to remember, but I know I played on 'Nurse Rozetta', 'Serious', 'How You Gonna See Me Now', and possibly 'For Veronica's Sake' and 'Jacknife Johnny'. There was one other song I did that was the B side of the 45 single 'How You Gonna See Me Now'. It was a duet with Alice and Betty Wright about junkies, but it wasn't on the album ('No Tricks'). I do remember that Alice sang his butt off on the duet.'

Most of the characters encountered on the album are based on real life people Alice met in hospital. Back in 1977 there weren't really any proper celebrity rehabs around, so Alice had to check into a real mental hospital and found himself surrounded by many genuinely disturbed patients.

'How You Gonna See Me Now' was released as the first single. Unusually for Alice Cooper the b-side featured a track that didn't make the final album. 'No Tricks' was yet another ballad and featured a duet with soul singer Betty Wright, who had several hits of her own in the early 70s. The single reached #12 on the Billboard charts but the follow-up single 'From The Inside' went nowhere. The album didn't exactly set the world alight either, stalling at #60 despite the relative success of the single.

'How You Gonna See Me Now' was based on a letter Alice wrote to his wife Sheryl while in hospital. "She'd never really known me as a sober person. Once I had dried out, she didn’t know what kind of a person I was going to be and I didn’t know how she would react to me." He needn't have worried.

'Serious' was originally called 'I Take That Seriously'.

The "Lizzy Borden took an axe" line in 'Inmates (We're All Crazy)' is taken from an old American nursery rhyme, which is in turn based on a real event. The real Lizzy Borden gained infamy after being tried and acquitted for the brutal murder, with an axe, of her father and stepmother in 1892. No one was ever convicted for the murders and the story has been the subject to endless speculation ever since, similar to the 'Jack The Ripper' tales in the UK.

On original lyric sheets there are references to 'candy'. The 'candy' references relate to Alice's idea to call an album "Eating Sweets Can Make You Violent."

A lavish party was put on for the launch of the album. The guest list included: Billy Preston, Wolfman Jack, Burton Cummings, Kiki Dee, Al Stewart, Peter Noone, Cheryl Ladd, Betty Wright, Debby Boone, Timothy Leary and Al Kooper.

The Cover

The cover of 'From The Inside' saw a return to the lavish packaging the original band had been famous for. The sleeve opened down the center of the front cover to reveal a scene inside the metal asylum and featured many of teh charaters imortalised on the album.

  • Veronica is the dog. ('For Veronica's Sake')
  • The blonde in the blue dress ('Wish I Were Born in Beverly Hills')
  • The nurse fixing the picture ('Nurse Rosetta')
  • The patient looking up her skirt ('Nurse Rozetta' again)
  • The couple on the bench are 'Millie and Billie'
  • The gambler in the wheelchair ('Serious')
  • The soldier with the umbrella ('Jackknife Johnny')
  • The three in the upper right corner ('Inmates(We're All Crazy)')
  • and lastly Alice himself, who can be seen when you open the door to 'The Quiet Room'

The doctor pictured on the album cover is in fact stage designer Joe Gannon who devised many Alice Cooper live shows.

The picture 'Nurse Rozetta' is hanging is a picture of Ned Kelly, a famous Australian bushranger. It's a painting called "Death of Constable Scanlon" painted in 1946 by Sidney Nolan. It shows Ned Kelly presumably killing Constable Scanlon.

'Elwood P. Dowd', as mentioned in the cover notes, was the character played by James Stewart in the film 'Harvey'. Dowd was an alcoholic and Harvey was his friend, a six foot invisible rabbit. The quote on the sleeve notes on 'From The Inside' ("I've wrestled with reality for 34 years, and I'm glad to say that I've finally won out over it") is taken from this film.

Marvel Comics released a comic based on the album, Marvel Premier 50. In it, some of the albums characters were given names. The blonde in the blue dress (''Wish I Were Born in Beverly Hills') becomes Ms. Tiffany Sleek, The croucher is Jerome (He has a fetish for Nurse Rozetta's feet), the Doctor becomes the Deadly Doctor Fingeroth and Veronica is a Snake!

'From The Inside' Live

The 'Madhouse Rocks' tour, as the 1978 jaunt was called, featured another huge theatrical stage show with Dancing bottles, the magic screen, and even more dancers then before. And while Alice was sober for the first time he didn't look healthy. He was extremly thin and it was clear something still wasn't quite right.

The show featured most of the album, with even 'Jackknife Johnny' and 'For Veronica's Sake' played a few times at the beginning of the tour (inc. Grand Forks) but later dropped. In fact the show included only six songs from the classic band albums, the rest being from his solo albums or 'From The Inside' itself. It also saw most of the 'Welcome To My Nightmare' band return with the exception of Dick Wagner, as Davey Johnson was retained from the previous tour. Sheryl Cooper worked out the choreography and led the dancers who also included some familiar faces from the '75 tour.

The show opened with Alice jumping through the magic screen to sing 'From The Inside' before being surrounded by giant dancing alcohol bottles. The band even took time out to play bursts of traditional music as each beverage took a turn at the front of the stage. 'Serious' followed before Sheryl appeared as 'Nurse Rozetta' to scold Alice. 'The Quiet Room' saw Alice alone at the front of the stage and led into 'I Never Cry'.

Finally Alice dug into his back catalgue for a short burst of 'Devil's Food' before 'Welcome To My Nightmare' brought the snake out. 'Billion Dollar Babies', 'Only Women Bleed'(which Sheryl playing her normal role), 'No More Mr Nice Guy' and 'I'm Eighteen' were depensed with quickly before the band got a chance to stretch their legs a little on an instrumental 'The Black Widow'.

'Wish I Were Born In Beverly Hills' led into 'Dead Babies' and '..Dwight Fry' before the magic screen fired up again for 'All Strapped Up', a song written especially for the show to accompany the screen footage and that has never released in any form (it was even edited from the tour film, as was 'Dead Babies'). An instrumental 'It's Hot Tonight' led into 'Go To Hell' with Sheryl and a friend in corsets with whips tormenting Alice. 'How You Gonna See Me Now' brought things down a little before 'Inmates' brought everyone back on stage, dancing around and forming a cardboard car which they all sat in to drive off stage.

"Don't know why 'Dead Babies' isn't in the film, but 'All Strapped Up' was the song they did with the long-fuse bomb which was performed almost completely on the 'Magic Screen' and probably didn't work well on video." - Brian Nelson


Filming the footage used for 'All Strapped Up'.

Gene Gram provided more information about the film used during 'All Strapped Up'.

"I believe I was in the video that played on the magic screen during the concert. It was filmed in the garden of an old hospital in Los Angeles, now gone. I was the production assistant on this job and worked for a short time for Alice's company Black Widow and for Alive Enterprises. During the video, Alice was in a straight jacket being chased around the garden by 4 hospital orderlies (his dancers, including his wife). Three of us were in costume in the garden as hospital inmates. I was the Archbishop of Canterbury. The producer, Joe Gannon, was Napoleon. One of Alice's roadies was dressed in a chicken outfit. Just before we started to film, Alice handed me a bag of potato chips and told me to be eating them during the filming because "you have to be getting away with something" Alice was a very nice, smart, funny fellow. His wife, Sheryl, was also always as nice as could be. I was quite young then, and Alice always called me "Kid". I know that there were a lot of still photos taken that day.There were also a lot of nuns in habits around during the filming (they worked at the hospital), and they were having a great time watching everything that was going on. When Joe Gannon showed up in his beautiful Rolls Royce, one of the nuns said to me "That must be the Producer!"; Too bad there is apparently no copy of the film available."

In fact Gene was wrong about that last bit as a clip from the film turned up in the 'Super Duper Alice Cooper' biography from Banger Films in 2014 so it does still exist in the archives.

The encore was an epic version of 'School's Out' which, as with the last few tours, was extended to over 15 minutes allowing for band introductions and musical jokes. Sometimes for example Davey Johnson would suddenly blast out Elton John's 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting' to which Alice would say "stop that, I pay you more then he does!" Prakash John for his part would start playing funky disco bass lines... "NO DISCO... I HATE DISCO" Alice would scream. In Milwaukee at least this extended into the whole band slipping into 'Y.M.C.A' much to Alice horror. Finally it all came back to the last verse of 'School's Out' and everyone took a bow. Job done.

The Performers - The band was introduced as "Ultra Latex"

  • Davey Johnstone - guitar
  • Steve Hunter - guitar
  • Prakash John (Introduced as "Johhny Stilletto") - bass
  • Penti 'Whitey' Glan - drums
  • Fred Mandel - keyboards
  • Sheryl Cooper - dancer
  • Rosa Aragon - dancer
  • Uchi Sugiyami - dancer
  • Eugene Montoya (Martin Luther Queen) - dancer
  • Clifford Allen - dancer
  • Wendy Haas - background singer
  • Joe Pizzulo - background singer

Setlist

  • Instrumental Intro
  • From The Inside
  • Serious
  • Nurse Rozetta
  • The Quiet Room
  • I Never Cry
  • Devil's Food intro - Welcome To My Nightmare
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Only Women Bleed
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • I'm Eighteen
  • The Black Widow (Instrumental)
  • Wish I Was Born In Beverly Hills
  • Dead Babies
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • All Strapped Up
  • It's Hot Tonight (Instrumental)
  • Go To Hell-Wish You Were Here
  • How You Gonna See Me Now
  • Inmates (We're All Crazy)
  • School's Out