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Billion Dollar Babies: First Ever Live Show Flint 1977

I can't claim to be a massive fan of any era of Alice Cooper, both the band albums and subsequent solo career from the snake adorned showman offering up a few over played gems that I know by heart and absolutely love, but I'm no aficionado. On that basis there's no doubt that I'm maybe not the target audience for what is in many ways a live release featuring a historic performance. With Alice unceremoniously dropping his band to go solo, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith brought in live Alice keyboard player Bob Dolin and lead guitarist Mike Marconi; Bruce taking the brave move to front the band, now called Billion Dollar Babies. The five-piece released one album, Battle Axe (purported here as being intended as the next Alice Cooper album before 'they' split), which, in all honesty, sank without trace. However, that didn't stop BDB from taking a hugely ambitious theatrical show on to the stage, or at least it didn't for the four shows they played before falling apart.

As its name suggests, First Ever Live Show, Flint 1977, brings to life the first of those four. It's rough and ready stuff, the current trend of releasing what we used to call bootlegs as official albums continuing at pace. In fairness, this live show has been released before, as part of an unofficial Battle Axe box set, but even with that in mind, this is scratchy stuff and thoroughly tough on the ears. Most of the Battle Axe album is in evidence and if you like early Alice, then you'll get a huge kick out of "I Miss You", "Too Young" or "Battle Axe" itself. Clearly, ambitions were high and what doesn't come across so well are the accompanying theatrics that you'd guess were meant to satisfy Alice fans, the action on stage backed by faux 'show' music and only represented by a couple of images in the booklet (which also rather oddly carries a couple of shots of the band in Alice Cooper days as well) of space age gladiators facing off, which causes a disconnect to occur.

Following Alice (or, as the band members go to great pains to point out in the liner notes, Vincent Furnier) is no short task, so credit to Bruce for doing a good job on a medley of "No More Mr Nice Guy", "Elected", "Eighteen" and "School's Out" and the show closing "Billion Dollar Babies", but he doesn't really feel like a natural frontman and doesn't really command the material as you might hope. Leaving things all feeling just ever so slightly undercooked and over exposed.

As someone with a strong but not fanatical interest in Alice Cooper (although with a huge respect for what they/he has achieved), there's little here to grab the interest. If however you've been waiting for many a year to hear what the rest of the band did next, then the rewards will be undoubtedly higher, but even with that in mind, the clear audio issues of this release will still leave you decidedly disappointed.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1. I Miss You
2. Rock n Roll Radio
3. Love is Rather Blind
4. Rock Me Slowly
5. Alice Cooper Medley: No More Mr Nice Guy/Neal Smith solo/Elected/Eighteen/School's Out
6. Battle Axe Suite: Ego Mania
7. Battle Axe
8. Nights in Cracked Leather/Sudden Death/Winner
9. Too Young
10. Billion Dollar Babies

Added: March 10th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: First Ever Live Show @ Gonzo Multimedia
Hits: 518
Language: english

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Billion Dollar Babies: First Ever Live Show Flint 1977
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-03-10 09:02:40
My Score:

Ahhh, Billion Dollar Babies...basically the Alice Cooper Band minus of course Alice, and problematic lead guitarist Glenn Buxton, the rest of the group deciding to continue on after the Muscle of Love album after Cooper himself went solo with Welcome to My Nightmare, the result being the often overlooked and underrated Battle Axe album. Comprised of Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith, along with keyboard player Bob Dolin and lead guitarist Mike Marconi, Billion Dollar Babies undertook an ambitious but short (and we might say disastrous!) tour in 1977, of which this recording was the first show, recorded in Flint, Michigan, somewhat of a home away from home for the band. The set list is made up of tunes from the one and only BDB album, as well as a small selection of Alice Cooper favorites, and they are all performed here quite capably, showing that these guys had the skills to make it on their own, which, sadly, just didn't happen. Original tunes such as the hard rocking "I Miss You", "Rock and Roll Radio", "Love is Rather Blind", and the catchy ballad "Rock Me Slowly" are all very solid compositions, with Bruce out in front doing a decent job at the helm on lead vocals and rhythm guitar. The "Battle Axe Suite" is pretty heavy and features some great dueling guitar licks between Marconi & Bruce, though the extended epic "Nights in Cracked Leather/Sudden Death/Winner" comes across as the band trying to do their best ELP impression, and probably is where much of the 'stage theatrics' took place, which is obviously missed out on here with the audio only version. Still, a great vehicle for Dolin, who shows plenty of prog-rock chops on the keyboards. "Too Young" is another solid original track, complete with hooks and a ton of crunchy guitar riffs.

The Cooper medley of course contains some classic ACB material, such as "No More Mr. Nice Guy", "Elected", "I'm Eighteen", and "School's Out", Bruce again doing a fine job covering Cooper's vocals, and the guys close out the show with a blistering "Billion Dollar Babies". So, from a performance perspective, this is a fine listen, but the quality of the recording throughout is way less than perfect obviously, basically a cut above bootleg quality, but considering how rare something like this is, any fan will no doubt overlook that point and get lots of enjoyment out of this little gem from the vaults. Another fine release from Gonzo Multimedia.

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