This Alice Cooper DVD set – including the 1976 “Welcome To My Nightmare” concert film as well as a TV special (“Alice Cooper: The Nightmare”) from the year before – manages to do the seemingly impossible, being both nostalgically dated and simultaneously timeless.
The onstage effects, the costumes, the use of freakishly large puppets (not too far removed from what you would see on H.R. Pufnstuf around the same time) in both Alice Cooper’s live show and the ABC TV special reek of the 1970s, but the music, even four decades later, is still as emotionally and impactfully relevant. A song like “Department of Youth” (minus the Donny Osmond reference), “I’m Eighteen” or “Only Women Bleed” all hold up remarkably well 40 years on. It’s tough to think that many of the songs being released now that could the same fate.
The show, filmed in London, is everything you’d come to expect from Cooper, theatrical and over-the-top from the moment the first chord rings out, until the house lights come on. Dancing spiders, skeletons with top hats and canes, and shirtless dudes with snake head masks each take turns climbing out of an onstage dumpster to taunt Cooper as he provides the soundtrack to his own nightmare. The band doesn’t step out of the shadows until the very end, with each member taking the spotlight for extended instrumental solos (it is the ‘70s remember). The show is impeccably choreographed, wildly entreating and the music is remarkable.
The accompanying TV special, which features Vincent Price alongside Cooper is more or less a truncated version of the stage show, with Alice playing Steven, a kid stuck in a nightmare he can’t wake up from. The show includes every song from ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’ in a wholly original marketing campaign that seems impossible to pull off today.
Even if you’re not a longtime Alice Cooper fan, the sheer fascination of this live set and the TV special should be enough to pull anyone in.