Possible one of Alice's least loved albums, 'Special Forces' still has something to offer to anyone willing to take the time to let it get under their skin. 'Who Do You Think We Are' is probably the only thing on offer approaching a classic, but 'You're A Movie' is prime Alice humour and the cover of Love's 'Seven and Seven Is' is pretty cool. Unfortunately the remake of 'Generation Lanslide' is rather pointless.
- Who Do You Think We Are (Cooper, Hitchings)(4:21)
- Seven And Seven Is (Arthur Lee)(2:41)
- Prettiest Cop On The Block (Cooper, Johnstone, Mandel)(3:13)
- Don't Talk Old To Me (Cooper, Johnstone, Mandel)(2:54)
- Generation Landslide '81 ("Live") (Cooper, Bruce, Dunaway, Smith, Buxton)(3:50)
- Skeletons In The Closet (Cooper, Hitchings)(3.42)
- You Want It, You Got It (Cooper, Scott, Krampf, Steele, Kaz)(3:15)
- You Look Good In Rags (Cooper, Hitchings)(3:35)
- You're A Movie (Cooper, Hitchings)(3:37)
- Vicious Rumours (Cooper, Hitchings, Scott, Pinera)(3:43)
- Alice Cooper - Vocals
- Danny Johnson - Guitars
- Mike Pinera - Guitars
- Craig Kampf - Drums
- Erik Scott - Bass
- Duane Hitchings - Keyboards
- Backing Vocals: Flo And Eddie (?)
Produced By Richard Podolor
Executive Producer: Shep Gordon
Engineer: Bill Cooper
Recorded at American Recording Company, Studio City
Mixed by Richard Podolor and Bill Cooper
Cover Art Direction: Alice Cooper and Richard Seireeni
Photography: Eric Dunn
Alice Portrait: Jonathan Exley
Album Notes - (Detailed release information)
After the 'Flush The Fashion' tour basically concluded in mid-August 1980 Alice took a little time out before beginning work on 'Special Forces'. In fact he got down to business fairly rapidly as almost eactly nine months later in May 1981 little Calico Cooper arrived! Unfortunately he didn't have long to enjoy family life as the following month he and Sheryl was already back on the road.
Alice's drug use was still escalating at this time but yet to reach breaking point. He was functional and managed to come up with a set of lyrics some consider amongst his best. Alice Cooper, of course, had always had a fair dose of humour, but on 'Special Forces' it really came to the fore with titles like 'Prettiest Cop On The Block' and 'You're A Movie'. Alice also sounded great, using multiple voices to fit the songs.
'Special Forces' was the second record in what Alice now calls his 'blackout' period, albums he claims to barely remember recording. It featured Danny Johnson replacing the departing Davey Johnstone on guitar, although confusingly Davey Johnstone is the one that gets writing credits on the album, possibly for songs left over from the 'Flush The Fashion' sessions.
To promote the album Alice appeared in full make up and costume on 'The Tomorrow Show' with host Tom Snyder. The 'Special Forces' make up was even more startling then the the previous year, with Alice's face caked in the stuff making him look battered and bruised. His hair was held in a bun by what looked like chop sticks and one UK magazine amusingly refered to it as his "Widow Twanky' look, refering to a traditional character in English pantomimes shows. Alice and the band performed 'Who Do You Think We Are' and 'Seven And Seven is' live on the show.
'Seven and Seven is' is a cover of Arthur Lee and Love's track from the 1966 album 'Da Capo'. 'Love' had long been a favourite with Alice and he covered the song again in 2015 as a bonus track on the 'Hollywood Vammpire' first album.
'Generation Landslide '81' is a re-recording of the original band song from 'Billion Dollar Babies'. While it's noted as being "live" on both the album and single, it's in fact a new studio version with fake audience noises added. At no point before the 'Special Forces' tour had Alice actually performed the song live. Alice had been toying with the idea of redoing an old song for a while and in the end chose this one, adding an extra verse. Brian Nelson came up with the "No one gives an oink" phrase used in the new verse.
A working title for 'Special Forces' was 'Skeletons In The Closet'.
The "clicking" sounds in 'You Look Good In Rags' are actual rifles being cocked ready to fire.
'The 'For Britain Only' single released as a "thank you" to the UK fans after the 'Special Forces' tour.
Early copies of the album listed an additional track at the end of the album called 'Look At You Over There Ripping The Sawdust From My Teddy Bear' but the track is missing. It eventually appeared in demo form on the 'Life and Crimes Of Alice Cooper' box set, and later still was included on a reissue of the album on CD. Brian Nelson:
A single of '(No More) Love At Your Convenience'/'Generation Landslide '81' (WB K 17914) was listed to be released in February `82 but was withdrawn before being made. Why it would have even been considered is a bit of a mystery. The 'Special Forces' tour was in the UK in February 1982 and for some strange reason Warner Bros. thought they would hype the tour by re-releasing an old song that hadn't exactly been a hit the first time. The release was quickly stopped and 'Seven and Seven is' was released instead.
"Count Floyd", mentioned in the `Thanks To` section of the sleeve, was the legendary host of 'Monster Chiller Horror Theatre' on SCTV (Second City Television), a late 1970s-early 1980s sketch comedy show from Canada. Portrayed by Joe Flaherty, Count Floyd dressed as a cheap Count Dracula, and howled profusely while showing clips of the upcoming horror movie (all of which were in 3-D and featured "Dr. Tongue" as the archvillan). Some of the movie titles included: 'Dr. Tongue's 3-D House of Meat' and 'Dr. Tongue's 3-D House of Stewardesses'. None were even remotely scary (as Count Floyd usually admitted), and the 3-D effect was achieved by the actors leaning into and away from the camera several times. It was a great parody of local horror movie hosts and old horror movies.
The UK leg of the 'Special Forces' tour was so successful that Alice and the band spent a couple of days in the studio and turned out a special song just for Britain as a thank you. The song, 'For Britain Only' was released in April 1982 and came in 12" and and 7" formats with three live songs recorded in Glasgow by Radio Clyde as an added bonus. The 7" featured 'Under My Wheels' while the 12" added 'Who Do You Think You Are' and 'Model Citizen'. It reached #66 in the UK charts.
The Paris TV Special a.k.a. 'Alice Cooper A Paris'
In early December 1981 Alice and the band shipped out to Paris, France to record a special TV show. Produced by Nightmare Inc., A2 and V.T.F. the show consisted of a series of clips featuring various songs with the emphasis on 'Special Forces'. The show was only aired in France and has never been officially released, although bootleg versions have circulated for years and it can often be found on YouTube. Several of the songs featured were re-recorded by the then current live band especially for the show including 'Only Women Bleed', 'I'm Eighteen', 'Billion Dollar Babies' and 'School's Out' and have since turned up as B-sides to singles with crowd noise added to make them sound like live recordings. Others saw the band miming to album versions of the songs.
Alice performing 'Under My Wheels' in the Paris Special.
Some songs are filmed live in studio. Others in different places in Paris. 'Goes To Hell' was originally intended to be filmed at Notre Dame Cathedral butthey couldn`t get permission so it was eventually done at Sacré-Cœur Basilica. 'Generation Landslide '81' was filmed at the Centre Beaubourg. The clip for 'Seven And Seven Is' has sometimes been used as a promotional video, although it originated as part of the French special. The full track listing is as follows:
- You and Me (played over opening credits)
- Generation Landslide '81 - Shot on the escalators at Centre Beaubourg.
- Under My Wheels - filmed in a scrap car yard.
- Clones (We're All) - also filmed in a scrap car yard.
- Pain - Still in the car scrap yard.
- Seven and Seven Is - filmed on a wrecked train car (in the Paris metro?*)
- Prettiest Cop on the Block - Filmed on the streets in Pigalle.
- Model Citizen - Back in the Paris metro.*
- Cold Ethyl - filmed in the 'Abattoirs de La Villette'.
- Only Women Bleed - also filmed in the 'Abattoirs de La Villette' with Sheryl Cooper.
- Go to Hell - filmed outside Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
- Who Do You Think We Are? - Live In The Studio.
- Vicious Rumours - Live In The Studio.
- I'm Eighteen - Live In The Studio.
- Billion Dollar Babies - Live In The Studio.
- School's Out - Live In The Studio.
- Who Do You Think We Are? (reprise) - Live In The Studio. (End titles)
* Going by what can be seen in the metro footage it could be 'Porte des Lilas' station. You can see "LAS" on the last part of a sign on the wall (the rest never comes into sight). The station has a hidden platform that isn't actively part of the metro system any more and is used for many movies and TV productions. Only two stations on the Paris metro have names ending in "LAS" and going by photos 'Porte des Lilias' has/had exactly the same type of signs, and also had/has the "Sortie" signs hanging from the roof as seen in the video. However this is just my guess.
The end titles are a little strange as the producers decided to use the bands full names rather then the ones they are usually know as. Hence we had Duane Hitchings: Synthesizers, Carlos Michael Pinera: Guitar, Eric Scott Pilipowitz: Bass, John Raymond Nitzinger Jr.: Guitar and Joannaro Unvena: Percussion.
Dispite the albums lack of success the tour went down well, especially in Europe where Alice had performed since 1975. The audiences were mostly the hard-core, devout fans that sold out most of the smaller venues. In some areas it was almost like the old days as in Detroit where he sold out two nights at the Joe Louis Arena (30,000 total). Brian Nelson described those shows as "maybe the loudest audiences I have ever witnessed."
The 'Special Forces' show featured a pretty sparse stage setting. The 'Special Forces' banner hung at the back of the stage and all the musicians are up front and visible in a relatively compact space center back of the stage. The show opened with a long tape of the introduction to 'Who Do You Think We Are'. At the start of the song Alice burst out of a cabinet stage right. The band are dressed in army fatigues with smeared make-up to match the theme of the show. 'Who Do You Think We Are' goes straight into 'Model Citizen'.
'Go To Hell' featured the scantily clad whip girl (Sheryl Cooper) dancing across the stage before being confronted with Alice shaking his maracas. They grapple and Alice steals the whip, using on the writhing girl before she makes her escape stage right. Alice then finds a sword and proceeds to tease the guitarists with it. The sword is a special prop that at the push of a button releases blood along the blade, making it look like he had cut someone.
'Guilty' follows during which Alice sticks the sword into the stage floor. 'I'm Eighteen' sees the appearance of the crutch. It`s noticeable how up front the band are now. In contrast to previous shows the band members seem to have been given pretty much freedom to wander whereever they want as long as they do certain choreographed moves at the right time. It's during 'I'm Eighteen' that the snake makes it's appearance.
'Cold Ethyl' features the Ethyl doll and moves into 'Only Women Bleed' in the traditional way and is followed by 'No More Mr Nice Guy'. 'Clones' sees Alice reenacting the moves from the Paris Special, moving robotically as he intones the words before switching to being very floppy and flexible for the choruses. 'Under My Wheels' has Alice sitting on a trash can pretending to drive or answer a phone. It`s noticeable that many of the older songs seem to be performed in edited form, missing verses here and there. Alice remains seated for a gentle 'I never Cry' before they launch into '7 and 7 Is' with Alice shadow boxing and bouncing around the stage.
'Pain', 'Grim facts' and 'Billion Dollar Babies' all pass by without any particular theatrical additions before 'Generation Landslide' is performed for the first tour ever. From there it`s a run to the end with a reprise of the 'Who Do You Think We Are' theme before an extended encore of 'School's Out' featuring band introductions and Alice removing his make up, letting his hair down and declaring "Aren't you glad I didn't get it cut?"
At the start of the tour 'Seven and Seven Is' was sometimes included in the show at the expense of either 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' or 'Grim Facts'.
In Europe, 'Seven and Seven Is' became part of the show and was played after 'I Never Cry'. In France, 'Guilty' and 'Grim Facts' were not played. During some shows, two verses of 'Vicious Rumours' were played in the middle of 'School's Out'. This was during Mike Pinera's guitar solo (he co-wrote the song and wanted to work it into the show; Alice would oblige by singing a few verses).
Keyboardist Duane Hitchings left the tour half way through wanting to devote more of his time to song writing. He ended up writing several huge hits afterwards including 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy' and 'Young Turks' for Rod Stewart and and winning a Grammy for 'I'll Be Here Where the Heart Is' from the film 'Flashdance'. He was replaced by Wayne Cook (Ex-Steppenwolf).
During the European leg of the tour, Alice accidentally stabbed himself through the leg with his sword.
The Performers - The band were introduced as 'Hostage Fever'
- Mike Pinera - guitar
- Sgt. John Nitzinger - guitar
- Duane Hitchings - keyboards, guitar (replaced by Wayne Cook (Ex-Steppenwolf) mid-tour)
- Colonel Erik Scott - bass
- Top Colonel Jan Uvena - drums
- Sheryl Cooper - Dancer
Alice Cooper on the 'Special Forces' tour, 1981.
- Who Do You Think We Are
- Model Citizen
- Go To Hell
- I'm Eighteen
- Cold Ethyl
- Only Women Bleed
- No More Mr. Nice Guy
- Clones (We're All)
- Under My Wheels
- I Never Cry
- Grim Facts
- Billion Dollar Babies
- Generation Landslide
- Who Do You Think We Are reprise
- Schools' Out