In the early '80s, Alice Cooper dropped his shock rock persona and went the punk/new wave route, alienating his then-long time fans as the rest of the public ignored him. Weird thing happened though: many of his fans later concluded that his most interesting and musically satisfying period. Three decades later, Cooper finally admitted why this era in his career was such a radical departure: he had developed a cocaine addiction which changed his creative direction, tested the strength of his marriage and nearly killed him. Unfortunately, with the exceptions of a few interviews, bootlegs and a great performance of "Clones" on the short-lived variety show "Pink Lady and Jeff," this French TV special is about the only video footage of him from that era -- which is odd since that's when MTV really exploded.
Basically a montage of music videos for songs from "Flush the Fashion '80" and "Special Forces" with a few older hits thrown in, "Alice Cooper in Paris" (known under a variety of bootleg titles) features an obviously coked-out Alice slathered in lipstick, eye shadow and streaks of black rouge, lipsynching badly to pre-recorded tracks (many of which differ from the album cuts). The brief final reprise of "Who Do You Think We Are" is the only song he actually performs live. Unlike his earlier special "The Nightmare," there's no story or through line, other than an extremely brief split-screen skit where radio d.j. Vincent Furnier (Cooper's real name) interviews Alice (though the dialogue is in French).
There's some interesting locales used that give it a nice visual punch: the special essentially opens with "Generation Landslide '81," in which Coop and associates perform while riding up a series of massive escalators encased in glass before moving to a junkyard, a decrepit subway car, a meat locker (for "Cold Ethyl"/"Only Women Bleed"), a churchfront (for "Go to Hell") and ultimately, a makeshift underground club that boasts no audience. Unfortunately, it's shot on video, Alice routinely slips up on the words and the editing is pretty non-existent -- and when the shot does change, there's no such thing as continuity. Furthermore, some of the staging is thoroughly bizarre. Clad in an aluminum-foil looking spacesuit, Alice performs "Clones" in the junkyard as his band stands behind him draped in a camouflage sheet. Whatever credibility the video could've had is lost with the sheet, and it's a huge letdown from his performance of the song on "Pink Lady." And one would have expected him to be dressed in a uniform to perform "Prettiest Cop on the Block," but logic doesn't prevail at all here -- he wears a tattered skeleton outfit and performs it on a makeshift streetfront on a soundstage.
For many years, copies of the special that were circulating were missing the opening titles and the quality was so bad it verged on unwatchable, but in recent years a high quality print has been unearthed. For fans of Cooper's music from this era it's worth seeking out, bearing in mind that it's no masterpiece. It is, however, an interesting glimpse into a fascinating period in his career that was barely documented.
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