SickthingsUK: The Eyes Of Alice Cooper

After the heavy industrial leanings of the previous two albums Alice changed direction again and headed back to his garage band roots for an album of three minute "hits" recorded almost live in the studio as they were written in the space of not much more then a week. Written mostly by the then current live guitar team of Ryan Roxie and Eric Dover, this is a back to basics album of good time hard rock, although there are a few curve balls in the mix as well to try and keep it interesting.


September 22nd (Europe)/September 30th (USA) 2003

Track listing

  1. What Do You Want From Me? (Cooper, Dover, Mikal Reid)(3:24)
  2. Between High School And Old School (Cooper, Dover, Roxie)(3:01)
  3. Man Of The Year (Cooper, Dover, Roxie)(2:51)
  4. Novocaine (Cooper, Dover, Roxie)(3:07)
  5. Bye, Bye, Baby (Cooper, Dover, Roxie)(3:27)
  6. Be With You Awhile (Cooper, Dover)(4:17)
  7. Detroit City (Cooper, Roxie, Garric)(3:58)
  8. Spirits Rebellious (Cooper, Dover, Roxie)(3:35)
  9. This House Is Haunted (Cooper, Dover, Roxie)(3:30)
  10. Love Should Never Feel Like This (Cooper, Dover, Roxie)(3:32)
  11. The Song That Didn't Rhyme (Cooper, Dover, Roxie)(3:17)
  12. I'm So Angry (Cooper, Dover, Roxie) (3:36)
  13. Backyard Brawl (Cooper, Dover, Roxie) (2:37)

Musicians

  • Alice Cooper - Vocals
  • Ryan Roxie - Guitars, Backing Vocals
  • Eric Dover - Guitars, Backing Vocals
  • Chuck Garric - Bass, Backing Vocals
  • Eric Singer - Drums
  • Teddy Zig Zag - Keyboards, Accordion & Percussion.
  • Calico Cooper - Backing Vocals, Theramin
  • Scott Gilman - Saxophones, Clarinet & other instruments
  • Wayne Kramer - Additional Guitar on 'Detroit City'

Sleeve Notes

Produced and mixed by Andrew 'Mudrock' Murdoch
Engineered by "The Gatekeepers" - Mudrock and Fred Archambault
Recorded at Mates Studio, North Hollywood, CA
Mixed at Track Record, North Hollywood
Mastered by Tom Baker at Precision Matering, Hollywood, CA
Album Packaging: Curt Evans
Photography: Ward Boult

Album Notes - (Detailed release information)

The Alice Cooper Band 2003
The Alice Cooper Band, 2003.

The 'Eyes Of Alice Cooper' saw a much more stripped back "garage" sound then the preceeding two records. Rather than repeating the same formula again Alice wanted to move on, and inspired by the new garage bands like The White Stripes and The Strokes he decided to strip everything back to the bare essentials - guitars, bass and drums - and with that in mind he took his touring band into the studio to write and record the whole album.

"When I began hearing these new bands, they all sounded fresh and exciting, but they also sounded familiar because it's so similar to the music we made when we were starting out. It's the kind of rock and roll I have always loved to listen to and always loved to create. I realized that I had been wanting to do an album like this for so long, and it came together so quickly."

All the songs were written by guitarists Ryan Roxie and Eric Dover at Dover's home studio, and at friend Gilby Clarke's home studio. Once they were ready to record they needed to find a producer who understood what they wanted to do. Producer 'Mudrock' had made his name a few years earlier working with nu-metal bands like Godsmack and Powerman 5000 (who incidently feature frontman 'Spider One', Rob Zombies younger brother) and Alice was introduced to him by chance while rehearsing at Mates Rehearsal Studios at the end of May. Mudrock had heard the new songs through the wall but didn't know who it was. When he found out he asked Alice who was going to produce the new album. Alice replied "I don't really know, we're talking to a few different producers." "I'm a producer" came the immediate response. "So have you produced anything I might have heard or liked?" And so Alice invited Mudrock into the rehearsal room to hear the songs properly and meet the band.

The album was recorded pretty much live in the studio at the beginning of June 2003 and took around two weeks. In interviews Alice liked to suggest they wrote a song in the morning and recorded it in the afternoon but that wasn't really the case. However the whole process was completed very quickly. Part of the reason was that they had a fairly short period of time to get the album recorded before they had to head back out on tour, but another reason was that Alice wanted to capture the spontaneity of a live recording, something often lost in an age of computers and pro-tools where musicians may never even be in the studio at the same time. To further avoid a studio vibe they moved arcoss the road from the Mates Reahearsal Rooms to a disused room and set up a recording studio there. The basic backing tracks for 'Eyes...' were all recorded live in the studio with everyone playing at the same time. Minimal overdubs were added afterwards.

The album wasn't particularly successful in terms of chart performance, only reaching#184 in the US and #112 in the UK, although it did slightly better in other European countries. Promotional CDs were sent out for 'Novocaine', 'Man Of The Year', 'Love Should Never Feel Like His' and and 'The Song That Didn't Rhyme' but no retail single was released.

'Detroit City' features additional guitar from legendary MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, who just happened to drop by Gilby Clarke's studio when Alice and the band were working there. The song is a tribute to the early days of the Detroit rock scene, when the primal energy of Alice Cooper, The Stooges, MC5, Ted Nugent and many others was changing rock'n'roll forever.

'Spirits Rebellious' was a title that has been floating around for some years as a possible album title and was considered again for this one. Other titles considered for the album included 'American Idle', 'Man Hole', 'Recipe For Disaster' and 'Man Of The Year'.

According to Ryan Roxie the voice heard growling in the background during the middle of 'I'm So Angry' is actually Mudrock.

For the album cover Alice returned to a variation of his original spider-eye 'Love It To Death' make up he'd not used since 1971. It was used to tie into the whole 'garage band just starting out" vide of the album and was also used on the subsequent tour. When the album was released it came in four slightly different covers. On each version Alice's eyes on the cover and CD, and the crescent around the 'A' in the title, could be blue, green, purple or red. After the inital release all late copies featured the red highlights. Another unusual feature of the cover is that on the back it featured a photograph of the whole band, something that hadn't happened since the original Alice Cooper split up in 1974.

Even more unsual was the fact that when the band headed out on the 'Bare Bones' tour they started including tracks from then unreleased album during the encores. At least six songs appeared live before the record was released: 'Detroit City', 'Between High School and the Old School', 'What Do You Want From Me?', 'Man Of the Year', 'Novocaine' and 'I'm So Angry'. There was no rhyme or reason to which song to played on a given night. Alice just chose one at random, with some appearing several times and others only once or twice.

'The Eyes Of Alice Cooper' Live

The Alice Cooper Band 2003
The 'Bare Bones' stage with spotlights in the eyes, 2003.

The 'Bare Bones' tour began in July 2003 just after the 'Eyes Of Alice Cooper' album was recorded, and this morphed into the 'Eyes Of Alice Cooper' tour in September once the album was released. Natually the two shows were almost the same, with just a little window dressing and setlist changes to distinguish them apart.

The 'Bare Bones' show was exactly what it sounds like. Minimal stage set featuring just amps and a backdrop showing the 'Love It To Death' eyes, which sometimes had spotlights in the pupils. The show started with a taped intro of 'Sun Arise' from 'Love It To Death' before the band blast through 'Hello Hurray' to 'Halo Of Flies' with minimal props (cane for 'Hello Hurray', pool cue for 'Serious', gun holster (minus gun) for 'Desperado', Crutch for 'Eighteen'). 'Desperado' saw Eric on acoustic guitar playing the title theme from 'A Clockwork Orange' as an introduction while 'Welcome To My Nightmare' featured the return (in the UK at least) of Lady Macbeth, the Scots Snake supplied by Bill Crowe last used in 1998. No snake was used in the Mainland Europe shows and the song was dropped there (as were several others due to the short hour long sets).
'Cold Ethyl' featured a large doll (not blowup) which was manhandled around the stage before transforming into Calico as the nurse for 'Only Women Bleed'. Calico danced around the stage before pulling Alice from the wings wearing the Straight jacket for the normal 'Dwight Fry' routine. 'Disgraceland' had Alice return in a silver and gold glitter outfit and shades for his Elvis impersonation.

'Serious' was only played at the first few shows and sounded incredible, but it was sadly dropped. By mid-July 'Disgraceland' had been replaced by various songs from the new album. 'Detroit City', 'Between High School And the Old School', 'What Do You Want From Me?', 'Man Of The Year', 'Novocaine' and 'I'm So Angry' were all played at least once. While most of these songs made it into the full 'Eyes Of Alice Cooper' setlist 'I'm So Angry' was only ever played (three times) at these shows.

The "Eyes Of Alice Cooper" show was much the same but with some "Eyes.." tracks added in the main set, plus Tommy Clufetos replaced Eric Singer on drums, who moved back to Kiss, and Damon Johnson replaced Eric Dover from September. The later shows generally opened with a taped version of "Black Juju". The tape was an edited version with just the slow intro and the sudden cry of "Wake Up Wake Up Wake Up". At the end the band launched into "Hello Hurray" with Alice appearing behind the drum kit silhouetted against a black backdrop. As the first song finished Alice moved down steps towards the main stage and the black backdrop fell revealing the "Love It To Death" Eyes (the spider design) from the inside of the original album gatefold to match the makeup Alice had returned to. The next track was "Man Of The Year" for the first few shows (until 8th October) but was changed to "No More Mr Nice Guy" (originally third) after that.

The first half of the show was the same "Bare Bones" rock show with minimal theatrics. During the drum break in 'Halo Of Flies' Dover and Roxie also pick up drumsticks and join in using simple two-drum setups on either side of Eric Singers kit. "Halo Of Flies" finishes and Alice appears center stage draped in the huge albino snake for "Welcome To My Nightmare". "Cold Ethyl" followed with the rubber doll thrown around before being dumped in front of the drum riser only to be reborn in the form of Calico who proceeds to perform a few dance moves before tying Alice into the straightjacket for "The Ballad Of Dwight Fry". And that was almost it for the theatrics! Naturally "School's Out" had the balloons and finished the main set.

The four song encore started with "Poison" and "Novocaine" before turning to either "Detroit City", "I'm So Angry" or, towards the end of the tour, "Bye Bye Baby". When singing "Detroit City" Alice would often substitute the local city name in place of 'Detroit' i.e."Cleveland City". Band intros followed (with the halloween story around the end of October shows) and the race for the finish with "Under My Wheels". At the finale Calico reappeared, dressed as Britney Speers, along with a Madonna look alike (often picked from the audience) to re-enact the recent MTV awards 'kiss" which had received tons of press coverage. They kiss, and then start to fight, with "Madonna" pulling off "Britneys" wig before being separated by two security guards who haul them off opposite sides of the stage. The guards return and lean forward to also kiss, before Alice quickly intervenes and the two guards skip off stage, camping it up all the way!

The last two nights of the tour (Oct 31st and Nov 1st) also included a brief section of "This House Is Haunted" between "Halo of Flies" and "Welcome To My Nightmare", the only time the song was ever played live.

You can see detailed setlist for all the shows by clicking here

The Performers

  • Alice Cooper - Vocals
  • Ryan Roxie - Guitar, Backing Vocals
  • Eric Dover - Guitar, Backing Vocals ('Bare Bones' and first part of 'Eyes...' tour)
  • Damon Johnson - Guitar, Backing vocals (second part of the 'Eyes...' tour.)
  • Chuck Garric - Bass, Backing Vocals
  • Eric Singer - Drums ('Bare Bones' Tour)
  • Tommy Clufotos - Drums ('Eyes...' Tour)
  • Teddy Zig Zag - Keyboards (second part of the 'Eyes...' tour.)
  • Calico Cooper - The Nurse, Backing Vocals.

'Bare Bones' Tour Setlist

  1. Sun Arise (Intro Tape)
  2. Hello Hooray
  3. No More Mr Nice Guy
  4. Billion Dollar Babies
  5. Long Way To Go
  6. Public Animal #9
  7. Be My Lover
  8. Lost in America
  9. Serious (dropped)
  10. Desperado
  11. I'm Eighteen
  12. Halo of Flies
  13. Welcome To My Nightmare
  14. Cold Ethyl
  15. Only Women Bleed
  16. Ballad Of Dwight Fry
  17. Guilty
  18. School's Out
  19. Poison
  20. Elected
  21. Disgraceland - replaced by a new 'Eyes... ' song
  22. Under My Wheels

'Eyes Of Alice Cooper Tour Setlist

  1. Black JuJu (Intro Tape)
  2. Hello Hooray
  3. Man Of The Year (or No More Mr Nice Guy)
  4. No More Mr. Nice Guy (Or Man Of The Year)
  5. Between High School And Old School
  6. Billion Dollar Babies
  7. Long Way To Go
  8. Be My Lover
  9. Lost In America
  10. What Do You Want From Me?
  11. I'm Eighteen
  12. Desperado
  13. Halo Of Flies
  14. Welcome To My Nightmare
  15. Cold Ethyl
  16. Only Women Bleed
  17. Ballad Of Dwight Fry
  18. School's Out
  19. Poison
  20. Novocaine
  21. Detroit City Or I'm So Angry or Bye Bye Baby
  22. Under My Wheels