Sound — 9
"Vincent Furnier" or later known as "Alice Cooper" has great live vocal skills too and even in his earlier point of his career displays excellent showmanship and delivers a killer performance. This is definitely an ultra rare limited release on original vinyl. There is even some blues harp on "Levity Ball" which as most of the tracks is on the debut album, but this live version has some more wicked harp soloing along with the heavy psych jam. These guys were really just far out and had some great talent.
Even though these are live performances they have some nice quality to them and interesting jam interludes mostly different from the studio recoding of "Pretties for You" and they are even more raw then the studio album itself. It shows that Alice Cooper as a band could produced some high quality and interesting jams and extensions of songs live and sound great. They are a genuine group and they sound pretty much how they do in the studio, a nice psychedelic band capable of playing real original music. They sound heavy and psychedelic, depressing with a beautiful sympathetic ballad "Nobody Likes Me," while that track has comedic relief and symbolism in it as the performance done live used props as the group was known for there is a serious passion and sad air to the song. The reviewer on AllMusic doesn't know what in the world they are talking about, Alice has always been a passionate performer, there is just as much energy and force delivered in his vocals and from the rest of the members, going all out in a hardcore intense jamming section, able to go heavy then soft to the main intro section. It is just so awesome to hear this great album even more obscure than the first LP even on CD.
You can hear audience and even some spoken introductions by Alice, this is just really raw, you can even hear the crowd clapping and cheering them at the end, not everyone hated Alice Cooper, there were were open-mined people on the Sunset Strip, they didn't have much success in Arizona for example. They just weren't a commercial band at the time and that's why not many people can see past it, but in my opinion the recordings on here are even more rawer than the debut album itself, not that the album sucks, "Pretties for You" is an excellent masterpiece, but if you love that album you must hear this, these recordings of them live are just splendid, they go into a more serious depth of performance somehow, I don't know, just the versions are really nice to hear, more intense if you will. They were definitely a great live band. They have more of an intensity and synchronization with scattered sections more sparse as they did on the studio recording intentionally, those somewhat random instrument bits simultaneously playing are actually still great sounding and again, intentional, but these are more well coordinated, proving that they played how they wanted and anything they did was really made to sound a certain way.
The guitar soloing is even more heavier and psychedelic on here with wailing blues harp from Vincent Furnier. Neil Smith always delivers a nice epic running fast and heavy drumming that just really adds to the whole intense performance, it just seems to be continuously raging on adding to the psychedelic fury of the whole album. I love the track "Sing Low, Sweet Cheerio" so much already and the live performance is just twice the great potential of creativity and true heavy rocking these guys where able to deliver and incorporate psychedelia and strange art rock themes into. Great music, but again devoid of mainstream and standard norms of pop and rock of the time, more innovation than anything in this music that most fail to see and dismiss the music like this that helped form new genres and sub-genres as garbage. New music is never excepted well until later like techno music, I mean look at Silver Apples with Simeon Coxe, they weren't really embraced until recent years, techno in the '60s before it was cool. Things take a while to pick up sometimes, but they begin to trend, this definitely shows a lot of attributes to the heavy art-rock metal themes and stage theatrics common today, just a sheer entertaining heavy performance fed to your ears for pure enjoyment.
These guys are like space rockers of their time, which these epic vocals and fast chord progressions, singing along in epic proportions with their voices to match on "Changing Arrangin." You can hear the crowd interacting with the band and commenting, someone telling Vince he looks beautiful and Cooper sarcastically says, "Another fun night," this album is great in so many aspects. Two raging guitars, heavy rhythm and loud psych lead, but simultaneously playing really nice hard rock riffs. The music is pretty good, they sure knew how to give a hell of a great performance musically and the quality isn't that bad.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are standard as the same on the album except "Nobody Likes Me" which does not appear on the debut. Alice even explains on the intro to "Today Mueller" that the song is about a chick. I've already said what I've had to say about the lyrics before, I didn't realize the debut has already been reviewed on UG though already, but they are nice the way Alice sings them, they have a far out spacey quality to them and are pretty enjoyable. Overall, as I've been saying the deliverance of these psych gem songs are just gorgeous and really savory. Alice can hit a range of vocals as usual, and he does a spectacular job and really puts on theatrics with his voice alone, portraying each song with a certain feel for every track perfectly.
Overall Impression — 9
This may be closer to "The Stooges" (1969) but not really the same, it has some similar aspects in the fact that there is some psych mixed with harder rock of the time and very uncommon forms of the time, as I've been saying really unique and innovative for the time. Although maybe not always as hard as The Stooges and not full out punk, this is a good art rock and proto metal demonstration with the earlier psych, it's darker and it begins to lose these elements later, but all the harder rock that is a predecessor or most of it comes from psych rock, this psychedelia really pushes the envelope in a good way though, it's beyond most of what you will hear.
"No Longer Umpire": Great pre metal type of track, with that avant-garde feel of creative display in music, particularly an art rock track, but really well performed live. I love the screaming drone of guitar on there.
"Levity Ball": I love how they can really get that feel of the music travelling; moving away from you and coming closer, giving the impression that the sound is travelling, a psychedelic technique but so unusual and not really done often or at this time, they just always have to do something really creatively genius and entertaining, but having a nice sound to it too musically. Then the wailing blues harp comes in, one of the things that gives it a somewhat familiar sound, great solos like I said, and Alice can also go and play really well on this track in an all out solo.
"Nobody Likes Me": A haunting melodically splendid intro with that guitar picking back and forth quickly and playing a nice note sequence to compliment the rhythm melody, a great start. This music has a beauty to it, and I see it even though it has that sardonic edge Alice is known for. It really captures a feel of how people couldn't understand this music, it didn't actually suck, I mean the build up of raging loud solo with a type of faster beat and progression with soloing in here is just really all-out, and then they build up and get even faster and it sounds great actually.
"Swing Low, Sweet Cheerio": An excellent psychedelic gloomy feel with great guitar soling and sliding notes added in to add to measure. Then the breaks in the song with off beat notes that still somehow sound good quickly played, then it goes back to this once again, momentum of a song that just keeps building up to have quick breaks with symbols, then it goes back to the intense main part after these short breaks. The rhythm of everything is just an orgy of sound in my opinion a great psychedelic track of its time with more all out jamming. The whole soloing and bits sound so different but great. There is a little bit of nice wah too, all just giving it this edge and a serious note. I think this is a real all around great track. The album is pretty much, as a whole, a display of the sheer talent these guys actually had, just listen to the blues harp, bass lines, and soloing through out backed by the raging drums with power rock rhythm, good stuff.
The only thing I don't like about this is that it's only twenty-five minutes long, but maybe that's all the time they got to record there, who knows. This is unfortunate, their live stuff at this time should have been recorded more, they are just a great band and I don't know why everyone is ripping on artists that are pioneering new music to come about, keep in mind they recorded and were making this music in 1968, "Pretties" was recorded in '68, it only didn't get released until August '69 because Zappa didn't get it out until then.
Like I've been saying, the takes on here are slightly alternate in chord sequence and structure, and are all around more of an energetic performance from all the members and this is why I love it, Love It To Death, the bending and distortion with psychedelic frilling riffs is just great, some good skill and raw talent going on here on this album with good Cooper vocals possessing quite a bit of range. This is a keeper for sure, a must have album on any format just for the sake of having it to hear it.