Before Kiss and before Marilyn Manson, there was Alice Cooper. Cooper brought outrageous theatrics to rock and roll before and, arguably, better than most. It wasn't all about the stage show, however, as many Cooper songs remain staples on classic rock radio. If the former Vincent Furnier was Dr. Jekyll, then Cooper was Mr. Hyde, and the character nearly consumed him. His rise, fall and redemption are chronicled on the excellent new documentary, Super Duper Alice Cooper.
Furnier was born in Detroit, but eventually relocated to Phoenix. His father was a preacher and Furnier spent a fair amount of time in church, but it was seeing the Beatles that led him to wanting to pursue a career in rock and roll. He entered a high school talent show with future Alice Cooper band mates, Dennis Dunaway and Glen Buxton doing a Beatles parody. The band, dubbed the Earwigs, was a hit. Soon they became the Spiders and, later, Alice Cooper. They were eventually discovered by Frank Zappa, but it wasn't until they met producer Bob Ezrin, who streamlined their sound, that they began to have a lot of success when the single, "I'm Eighteen," put them on the map.
As the band became more popular, more of the attention was directed toward its singer, which led to some resentment among the band members. Cooper for his part, played the character to the hilt, always intoxicated and blurring the lines between Vince Furnier and Alice Cooper (which Furnier would legally change his name to). The documentary excels in telling this story, as Cooper pulls no punches about his descent into alcohol and drugs. Similarly, Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith are very candid in expressing their discontent about how the original band fell apart.
Another area where the documentary shines is in its use of rare footage. Vintage interviews and live clips are shown throughout, including some killer footage from the Hollywood Bowl in 1972. The film also uses art, bringing still photos to life and clips from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to illustrate its point. It's a testament to the filmmakers and a fitting tribute to Cooper that the documentary itself is a piece of art, being both informative and visually exciting. Super Duper Alice Cooper also interviews manager Shep Gordon (Now the subject of his own documentary) and contemporaries and fans as diverse as Elton John, Dee Snider and John Lydon.
The documentary features several deleted scenes and rare footage as bonus features. Audio options for the main feature are Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround Sound.
If there's any problem with the documentary, it's that Cooper's more recent years are glossed over. Granted, the reason people still talk about him and the band is because of those early records but it still makes the film slightly incomplete. This is the godfather of shock rock, after all. Still, the good far outweighs the bad here and Super Duper Alice Cooper is a must own for any Alice Cooper fan.