Alice Cooper

Glory days of Alice Cooper celebrated with deluxe editions of Killer and School’s Out

“If you want blazing, stripped-down, Detroit-style rock, pick up Killers. If you want theatre-tinged street-gang drama, pick up School’s Out. But really, you should just pick up both.”

About a decade ago, I found myself at one of my most hated places in the world: an outdoor music festival. The reason I was there was to see former members of Black Flag (rounded out by Descendents shredder Stephen Egerton) absolutely pummel under the name Flag. I am not too ashamed to admit I was a complete fanboy as Black Flag rank as religion to me. After following them around and peppering them with a litany of questions, bass player Chuck Dukowski and myself went to see one of the fest’s headliners, Alice Cooper. I admitted to my bass-playing hero that I wasn’t into his “Hey Stoopid” years etc. After letting me vent for a bit, Dukowski just pointed at Alice Cooper and screamed over the din, “Before punk, the Stooges, MC5 and Alice Cooper were the only thing happening.” Waitaminnit. “Before punk”? At that point I had never talked to anybody who was there “before punk.” He insisted that Black Flag would’ve sounded very different if not for Alice Cooper and as soon as he said it, I instantly saw the connection. 

If you want to talk Detroit-fuelled proto-punk, you have to give a definite nod to the ol’ Coop. This cross-dressing, makeup-wearing band routinely played with the Stooges and MC5 in their adopted town of Detroit. Even Johnny Rotten said that Alice Cooper’s Killer was the greatest rock ’n’ roll record of all time. (He was wrong though: It was Coop’s previous stunner, 1971’s Love It to Death released six months prior).

School’s Out and Killer by Alice Cooper

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Cooper’s incredible records Killer and School’s Out are two deluxe editions that are just now hitting the shelves of your local wax shack and is absolutely necessary for any fan of glam/proto-punk/psych/prog/goth. Both deluxe editions include three LPs as well as the usual doo dads that make this truly special. The remastered versions of each record is done by the wizard of mastering, Chris Bellham, and sound absolutely glorious compared with the first presses I have.

Rounding out the package of both editions are two amazing live shows — that sadly feature almost the same set list. There are also alternative versions that don’t stray too far from the renditions we’re used to, but if you’re a completist, this will definitely scratch that itch. Rhino/Warner also outdid themselves on the packaging, with Killer coming in a trifold cover, with extensive notes from the surviving band members on each song, a personal look back at being a Cooper fan from the perspective of Bill Holdship and the 1972 calendar that came in the original edition. Schools Out’s three records are housed in a book-like sleeve with the panties that appeared in the original edition clinging proudly onto the remastered record. Again, the remaining two records feature the alternative versions, but if you’re buying this just for the live records, this document of their Miami 1972 concert outshines the Killer live set through sheer take-no-prisoners energy.

If you want the blazing, stripped-down, Detroit-style rock, pick up Killers. If you want theatre-tinged street-gang drama, pick up School’s Out. But really, you should just pick up both — these editions are guaranteed to wipe away any recent sightings of Coop’s “cummerbund years.” ■

For more on the deluxe editions of Killer and School’s Out by Alice Cooper, please visit the band’s website.

Current Obsession: Drive Like Jehu, Yank Crimes 

This article was originally published in the July 2023 issue of Cult MTL.

For more Montreal music coverage, please visit the Music section.