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Albums Of The Week: Alice Cooper | Killer + School’s Out Deluxe Editions

Anticipate fun as two of the shock-rocker's ’70s classics get upgraded & upsized.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Alice Cooper was unstoppable during the 1970s, when the band released four consecutive platinum albums and five Top 40 hits like I’m Eighteen, School’s Out, No More Mr. Nice Guy and Elected. Now Rhino has reissued two of those platinum albums — Killer (1971) and School’s Out (1972) — with newly remastered sound, rare recordings, and previously unreleased live performances.

Released in 1971, Killer was the fourth studio album recorded by the founding quintet of singer Alice Cooper, lead guitarist Glen Buxton, rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith. Bob Ezrin produced all four of Alice Cooper’s platinum albums from the 1970s, including Killer and School’s Out.

Killer Deluxe Edition introduces a newly remastered version of the original release, which peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Albums chart. Along with the singles Under My Wheels and Be My Lover, the record also includes Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Desperado and the prog-rock-inspired epic Halo Of Flies. The bonus material features alternate takes for You Drive Me Nervous, Under My Wheels and Dead Babies.

The collection also gives fans an unreleased live recording of the band’s performance at Mar Y Sol Pop Festival in Puerto Rico on April 2, 1972. Recorded a few months before the band returned to the studio to make School’s Out, the show previews Public Animal #9 from the upcoming album. The band played most of Killer during the concert, including You Drive Me Nervous, Under My Wheels and Halo Of Flies. They also tapped the group’s 1971 album Love It To Death for live versions of Is It My Body?, Long Way To Go and the smash hit I’m Eighteen.

Shortly after the festival, the band released the title track from its followup album School’s Out. The single was released several weeks ahead of the full album to ensure it hit radio airwaves before the school year ended. It worked. By the time school was out, the song was a hit, reaching No. 7 in the U.S. and No. 1 in the U.K.

School’s Out Deluxe Edition begins with a newly remastered version of the 1972 original, which peaked at No. 2 on the albums chart. Essential tracks like Luney Tune and Alma Mater are joined by Gutter Cat vs. The Jets. The latter is an homage to West Side Story, a significant influence on the band. The song incorporates lyrics from Jet Song from the 1957 musical, which led to an unlikely songwriting credit for Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim on an Alice Cooper track.

The deluxe edition contains rarities like the single versions of School’s Out and Gutter Cat vs. The Jets. Two previously unreleased tracks are also included: An alternate version of Alma Mater and an early demo for Elected, a song that would appear in 1973 on the band’s first No. 1 album, Billion Dollar Babies.

Alice Cooper’s concert in Miami on May 27, 1972, adds even more unreleased music to the collection. The show was recorded a few weeks before the band entered the studio to record School’s Out. The live performance features standout versions of Halo Of Flies, School’s Out and Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, a song that gives Cooper a chance to show off his impressive harmonica skills.

The vinyl versions for both deluxe editions recreate the original album sleeves down to the smallest detail. For Killer, that means a gatefold sleeve that opens to reveal a detachable 1972 calendar with a photo of Cooper in the gallows. The cover of School’s Out looks like a wooden school desk and opens to reveal the LP wrapped in a pair of panties. Back in the ’70s, the band stopped including the underwear following a controversy as to whether or not they were flammable. Thankfully, the lacy unmentionables in the newe dition are not a fire hazard.

Both sets come with booklets that include track-by-track commentary by band members and former Creem Magazine editor Jaan Uhelszki, plus liner notes by Bill Holdship, also a former Creem editor. In Killer Deluxe Edition, Holdship writes: “Listening to Killer again after all these years to write these notes was rewarding because, like The Beatles and Elvis, it’s gratifying to realize I ended up ‘wasting’ my life on something that, even in retrospect, really was that great. Fifty years later, Killer remains a perfect — perfect! — rock ’n’ roll record.”


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