ALICE COOPER: A FISTFUL OF
1) School's Out; 2) Under My Wheels; 3) I'm Eighteen; 4) Desperado; 5) Lost In America; 6) Teenage Lament '74; 7) I Never Cry; 8) Poison; 9) No More Mr. Nice Guy; 10) Welcome To My Nightmare; 11) Only Women Bleed; 12) Feed My Frankenstein; 13) Elected; 14) Is Anyone Home?
The idea behind Cooper's second live album was to remedy the flaws of the first one. Since The Alice Cooper Live Show had been released in 1977 without the artist's consent and, according to his opinion, did not offer a proper audio representation of what the show was really about, it was only a matter of time before a real, officially endorsed, live album would see the lights of day — strange that it took a sobered-up, activity-bursting Cooper a whole decade to get around to it, but it is pretty fortunate that it did, because otherwise we would have ended up with a bunch of Kane Roberts machine gun solos on some of Alice's worst songs.
The irony is, of course, that A Fistful Of Alice, fine-sounding as it is, does not capture the «true» Alice Cooper show any more than the 1977 album did. Specially recorded at the Cabo Wabo club in San Lucas, Mexico, and fattened up by guest appearances from Slash, Rob Zombie, and even Sammy Hagar (fortunately, on guitar only!), it reads as a Greatest Hits Live. Only 'Desperado' had not been previously released as a single — and, vice versa, pretty much all of the hit singles Alice ever had in his career are represented, including even a livened up version of 'Teenage Lament '74' and (only on the expanded Japanese version) 'Clones', songs that were not at all part of the regular show at the time. On the other hand, the album that he was promoting at the time — The Last Temptation — is only represented by 'Lost In America', the «hit song», ripping out any hopes of conceptuality or coherence ('Nothing's Free' and 'Cleansed By Fire' were regular parts of the setlist).
So the purpose of the album is somewhat obscure; loyal fans would likely have preferred a more authentic document, and casual fans, by 1997, would hardly be interested in anything other than regular «greatest hits» packages, not bothering to see them re-recorded in a live setting. Nevertheless, on its very own, A Fistful Of Alice is still fun. What is there to dislike about the Coop's hit singles, with the possible exception of 'Poison'? Nothing. The man is in top vocal form, the backing band is in good taste (Fistful marks the first appearance of soon-to-be
Here is just a bunch of off-the-cuff remarks on minor special details that may or may not entice you into hearing this: (a) 'Teenage Lament '74', losing Lisa Minelli, gets a crunchy power-pop coating that almost wipes out its vaudeville spirit; (b) 'Welcome To My Nightmare' has a brief 'Steven' introduction, and keyboard player Paul Taylor manages to simulate the powerful brass section so that the results are almost credible; (c) Rob Zombie's growling on 'Feed My Frankenstein' adds nothing to the song, but Slash definitely spices up the sound on 'Lost In America'; (d) 'Elected' serves as a pretty good Grand Finale to the whole show.
As a tempting bonus, the fans get one new studio track, the acoustic-and-slide-led pop rocker 'Is Anyone Home', similar in tone and message to 'Wind-Up Toy', nowhere near as desperate, but much more instantly likeable in terms of arrangement, because the guitars follow the sonic patterns of The Last Temptation rather than Hey Stoopid. Should it be tempting enough to make A Fistful Of Alice into an obligatory part of the fan's collection, or will the album forever remain in the status of an obsolete curio? Depends on how much you are into black leather. But thumbs up regardless of the answer.