Alice Cooper's influence is like Visa: It seemingly is everywhere.
The world's original shock rocker's aesthetic and sonic influences can be seen and heard in Kiss, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and many others. It was no surprise to Cooper's fans and many music critics when Cooper was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2011.
Fans of Cooper wanting to see Cooper at almost the exact moment he broke away from his original Alice Cooper Band now have a time capsule in the form of "Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare Special Edition," a DVD from Eagle Vision and Universal Music Co. that pairs a professionally filmed concert with Cooper's "The Nightmare" TV special. Both documents are from 1975, the year Cooper officially became a solo artist, and he rarely has glanced back since.
Although the sound is a bit murky and the camera work less fluid than what are heard and seen on recent Bluray releases, the concert portion mostly delivers the ghoulish goods on the new release. Cooper's dimly lighted stage becomes home to a battleground where Cooper faces off against giant, fast-moving spiders, a menacing Cyclops warrior and more.
For the most part, Cooper's voice retains its edginess and strength, although a lack of post-gig overdubbing reveals the few moments when Cooper's voice wavers. His band is excellent, with guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter in particular standing out. It's no wonder that Wagner was recruited to sub for Aerosmith's Joe Perry and Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley in the recording studio, among others, over the years. Wagner and Hunter's guitar duel mid-set is spectacular, as are the live versions of "I'm Eighteen," "Cold Ethyl," "Only Women Bleed" and "School's Out."
The new DVD's inclusion of "The Nightmare," which originally aired on NBC television and co-stars horror master Vincent Price, was a smart move by Eagle Vision and Universal Music Co. Yes, some of it is dated, but much of it holds up well today. The feature shows Cooper gaining confidence as he metaphorically takes those first few steps away from his original band. Cooper is seen "battling" all kinds of demons throughout the DVD, yet there's an undercurrent in his mood that often seems celebratory, as if he, at that moment in 1975, somehow knew his fan base and critical acclaim would continue to expand in the 1980s, 1990s and beyond.