Watch: Alice Cooper Live ’79 DVD


Strange Case of Alice Cooper: Live 1979 – The Madhouse Rock Tour, recently
released by Shout! Factory, is 72 minutes of ghoulish, hard rocking fun.


By Lee Zimmerman

Alice Cooper has a drinking problem, or so says Vincent Furnier — Alice’s real life
alter-ego — in the prelude to the video version of the over-the-top tour de
force that marked the 1979 Madhouse Rock tour. An exercise in theatrical excess
and outrageous spectacle, it goes to show how durable Alice has always been, so durable in fact that
he currently has a featured role in the Johnny Depp remake of Dark Shadows, looking every bit as
ghastly and ghoulish as he did back in the day. No matter, then, that the
character has an abuse problem or a psychopathic disorder; the enduring icon is
in peak form in this intriguing period piece, one that finds him and his band
surrounded a variety of loony characters and enough special effects to mount a
Broadway extravaganza. Furnier’s ability to mine his muse for nearly four
decades has turned Alice’s road show into a
handsome paycheck, and unlike Kiss, his closest competition, Alice has never shed his make-up or attempted to suppress the quirkier aspects of his character’s




As a result, Alice’s
oddities are never more evident than they were here, as the demented star
pleads, cajoles and generally bares his fears and fantasies for an approving
audience. Using songs from his then-current album From the Inside to guide the narrative, the 72-minute video takes
him from an insane asylum to a stage shared with dancing bottles of booze of an
international variety. He’s accompanied by a ghoulish cast of creepy caretakers
and all manner of ghastly accoutrements – among them, disembodied heads, his ever-ready
straight jacket and, naturally, Alice’s
pet boa constrictor.




And of course, there’s also an ample stash of hits – “Welcome to My
Nightmare,” “Only Women Bleed,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” “No More Mr. Nice
Guy,” “I’m Eighteen” and, naturally, his signature song, “School’s Out,” all
sung with typical Cooper cachet. The ageless Alice regales the crowd in full freak frenzy,
as strangely stunning as ever.




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