Easy Action Era
Read my review of this album here.
Easy Action CD Album (1989, Rhino 81227 99270)
This is a very basic CD in a jewel case. The insert is also very basic with black and white photos of the band. Unlike the vinyl releases, the CD version has the correct track order (the last 2 tracks were incorrectly switched when it first came out).
Easy Action 'Mini LP' SHM CD Album (2011, Warner Brothers)
As with all of the Japanese SHM CD's, this version faithfully recreates the original vinyl release. Easy Action was a fairly basic release in the first place so this is obviously reflected here (including the incorrect order of the track listing).
NOTE: A further CD copy of this album is included in 'The Studio Albums 1969-1983' boxset and be seen here.
Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album (1971, Straight Records, WS 1845)
This 1971 pressing of Easy Action comes in gatefold format on the Straight label and features pink Straight vinyl labels. One notable aspect is that the last 2 tracks (Beautiful Flyaway and Lay Down And Die, Goodbye) are stated in an incorrect order on the back of the sleeve. They are correct on the vinyl label, however.
This copy is in good overall condition bearing in mind that it's well over 40 years old.
Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album (2009, Rhino Records WS 1845 S39648)
As with the Pretties For You vinyl, picking up a good condition copy of the original release at a good price is not easy. Thankfully, Warner Brothers also re-issued this one on 180 gram vinyl.
This is another basic reproduction with a sleeve case but is well worth getting hold of if you don't have the original copy. This copy also has the incorrect track listing order on the reverse.
Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album (2009, Rhino Records WS 1845 S39649)
This further 'Collectors Limited Edition' vinyl re-issue is exactly the same as the above version only it features a marble effect pink disc.
Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album (2018, Rhino Records RCV1 1845)
This 140 gram vinyl version of Easy Action was released in January 2018 at the same time as additional releases of Killer and Welcome To My Nightmare. Each featured different colour vinyl and production numbers with this one pressed in gold and being limited to 4,600 units worldwide.
Unlike the two above re-issues of Easy Action this version retains the gatefold design of the original album but, interestingly, does correct the track listing error on the back of the sleeve. Also, this version features the classic green Warner Brothers vinyl stickers.
Unfortunately, this version will forever be notable for one reason. It was discovered just 6 days before release date (Friday 26th January 2018) that all 4,600 units had accidentally been pressed with the music of the Killer release. To make matters worse, all the Killer vinyls (5,200 in number) were pressed with Easy Action music resulting in 9,800 faulty products. Doh!
Upon idenifying this issue a recall letter was quickly issued to retailers (see example image below), but it didn't stop several making their way out of shops. Nobody knows how many people obtained them but these will probably become quite sought after, as this is a curious error. In the case of this album, the error is highly ironic given the legendary Bizarre version of Easy Action (see below).
Zapped 12" Vinyl Album, (1970, Bizarre Pro 368)
The Alice Cooper band signed to record producer Frank Zappa's Straight label in 1968, with their first album (Pretties For You) following a year later. In 1970, around the time that Easy Action was released, Zappa released the promotional sampler Zapped. This record featured music from his signed artists including Zappa himself, Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band, Tim Buckley, The GTO's and, of course, Alice Cooper (the featured tracks being Titanic Overture and Reflected, both from Pretties For You).
In addition to Straight, Zappa had another label called Bizarre. As the names suggest, Straight was designed for his more mainstream artists wheras Bizarre was the home to some of his more obscure acts. One might argue that Alice Cooper being signed to Straight was (pardon the pun) rather bizarre but it was clear that Zappa, even at this early stage, saw the potential commercial success that the band might achieve. Zapped featured artists from both labels yet only featured the distinctive blue Bizarre labels on the Vinyl itself.
Zapped was not available in stores, instead fans had to send a mere $1 dollar in the post with it turning up several weeks later. Clearly, this album was not a profitable venture but it's value to Zappa was that it presented a platform for him to showcase his artists to fans that may otherwise never get to discover them.
Zapped was produced with 2 cover variants, mine features a portrait picture of Zappa wheras the alternative featured a collage design. My version features a simple card sleeve, the vinyl is contained within a paper sleeve which includes some of Zappa's principles towards record production.
Easy Action 12" Vinyl Album (1971, Bizarre Records, WS 1845)
This is one of the rarest, most interesting and most sought after of Alice Cooper collectables. The reason for this is that whilst the packaging is the same as the Straight copy of Easy Action of the same code (see above), the vinyl oddly features blue Bizarre labels (see the above feature of the album Zapped). Alice Cooper was signed to Straight and not Bizarre so this is essentially a mis-printed album that should never have seen the light of day in record stores.
Various stories exist regarding how this error occured and how many copies exist. Having carried out extensive research on the subject, I have concluded that the most plausible explanation is that during the pressing of Easy Action a number of records were accidentally stamped with Bizarre labels that were supposed to be used on a Bizarre release (perhaps the above Zapped, it was released at about the same time and is indeed promoted on the vinyl sleeve of this very album). Once the label was stamped on, the relevant text for Easy Action would then have been printed. It should be remembered at this point that this is the same manufacturer that managed to get the order of the last 2 tracks in the wrong order on the back of the album sleeve!
One suspects that this error was identified fairly quickly with most the mis-printed stock removed and destroyed. Clearly though, some made it out of the factory and into record stores. Exactly how many is unknown but, given the very small number that come up for sale, I suspect that there may be less than 50 doing the rounds. The funny thing is that some may be sat in people's attics or in car boot sales in the States. For those in the know, they are able to command many hundres of dollars to the right buyer.
My copy was purchased on eBay from the son of Glenn Danzig no less. The seller was able to provide the following information on the origin of this record for me:
I got this from Natalie Natero, who passed away in 2007. She was a big Alice Cooper fan and also dated me and my father (true story)! I got this back in 1999 as a Christmas gift.
This copy is in truly excellent condition with minimal wear-and-tear to the sleeve. The vinyl is in perfect condition and plays beautifully (before you ask, yes it does actually feature the music from Easy Action).
This record came in at Number 4 on a list of the top 5 rarest Alice Cooper group vinyl releases (the rest all being early single releases).
For more information on this most collectable of items, visit this excellent Facebook page! At the time of writing, only 6 copies of this album (including mine) have been accounted for. One of the most recent copy to come up for sale (in February 2016) sold for a whopping $665 (about £480).