Live From The Astroturf 12" Album
The Live From The Astroturf 7" release in 2016 was not only an undoubted success but also helped to re-ignite fans' passion for the original Alice Cooper Group. Almost as soon as people got hold of the single, there were calls by many to see a release by Good Records of the full 8-track setlist at their store in Dallas, Texas on Tuesday 06th October 2015.
Many people's prayers were answered when just such a release was announced on the Record Store Day website on Tuesday 09th October 2018. As with the 7" single, the LP was to be a vinyl only affair (to the masses at least) and would be released on the corresponding Record Store Day in 2018 (Black Friday, 23rd November 2018).
Initially understood to be limited to just 3,000 units across the USA (500 more than the mainstream 7" single), the original description of the release was as follows:
Full instore performance from the legendary night October 6, 2015. Includes a double sided 24”x36” poster, a 11”x11” 16 page booklet/program, 6 trading cards, each b-side* of LP will feature a different member at random, there will be 10 different color variants at random in mofi sleeves and each silver foil board gatefold jacket will be stamped and numbered.
1. Caught In A Dream 2. Be My Lover 3. I'm Eighteen 4. Is It My Body 5. No More Mr Nice Guy 6. Under My Wheels 7. School's Out 8. Elected.
* On this album the b-side was labelled 'Side C'. This was a nice touch as Side A and Side C obviously were the initials of Alice Cooper!
Many fans were quick to point out the significance of the release, 50 years on from the renaming of 'The Nazz' to 'Alice Cooper'. This was extremely well received as there was considerable dissapointment that 2018, to that point in time at least, had failed to provide Alice Cooper Group fans with any notable celebration of this landmark occasion (no shows with the surviving members, no special releases, nothing).
Excitement levels shifted into overdrive a week later when Good Records released a fantastic promotional music video for Under My Wheels featuring caricatures of the Alice Cooper Group, plus Good Records owner (and Live From The Astroturf mastermind) Chris Penn.
The video primarily focused on the performance at Good Records that the audio recording is taken from, but also gives a nice nod to the 2017 shows featuring the surviving Alice Cooper Group members at Nashville, Tennessee and the United Kingdom plus the studio recording of new songs for the Paranormal album (also released in 2017).
On 07th November 2018, an article in the Dallas Observer confirmed that the previously announced 3,000* National Edition copies would be joined by a Good Records Edition that would be limited to 1,000 copies. This was very similar to the original 7" release whereby 200 Good Records Editions joined the wider release of 2,300 copies.
* It was later confirmed that the National Edition would actually be subject to 4,000 copies (rather than 3,000). Added to the 1,000 Good Records Editions, that meant a final production run of 5,000 copies.
It was also confirmed in the same article, and contrary to earlier information, that there would actually be a staggering 15 different colour variants of the 12" release (the 7" had 'just' 5) with 12 allocated to the National Edition and 3 to the Good Records Edition.
It was also confirmed that:
> The vinyl would be pressed at Goota Groove in Clevaland (who also pressed the 7" version) and would come housed in a double-gatefold sleeve printed at Imprint Indie Printing in Florida;
> It would feature trading cards, just like the Billion Dollar Babies LP; and
> The inside of the record sleeve would have pink Astroturf along with a booklet with pictures, a short handwritten note from Alice Cooper and an essay written by Dennis Dunaway.
On Friday 23rd November 2018, the Live From The Astroturf 12" was released to mass excitement amongst Alice Cooper Group fans. As in 2016, Good Records was the focal point with the exclusive Good Records Edition available to customers on a 1-per-customer basis.
Also on sale and exclusive to Good Records was an 8-track version (limited to 100 units in various colours), T-shirts and spare copies of some of the memorabilia included within the 12" release. It later transpired that a cassette version of the album (also limited to 100 units) was also produced with the tapes featuring either clear hot pink (numbers 1 to 18) or solid pink designs (see images below).
As release day unfolded, many fans took to social media to proudly show off their purchases. This was the first opportunity to see many of the outstanding colour variants and they were a joy to behold!
Chris Penn and his pal Bucks Burnett (owner of 14 Records in Dallas) also showcased some of the equisite additional detailing of the Good Records Edition in this great video. Extra goodies provided in this version were:
> 3 unique vinyl colours (see below for images);
> Custom sticker sheet featuring caricature images the Alice Cooper Group;
> Dennis Dunaway 'Live From The Astroturf' guitar pick;
> 6 x double sided 8" x 10" prints of the Alice Cooper Group;
> Alice Cooper Group 50th Anniversary logo patch;
> The sleeve stamped with unique pink foil number and 'Live From The Astroturf' writing on the front (they are silver on the National Edition); and
> Everything packaged in a pink ziplock bag;
Finally, and as with the 7" release, a small number of test pressing copies were produced with some secured by hardcore fans. These are understood to be limited to 68 copies, with 18 black vinyls in a white sleeve and 50 Random Mix Colour vinyls in a black sleeve (these were individually numbered 1-18 and 1-50 respectively).
Below are images of every variant, which are titled as follows:
National Edition Variants
Note: The Black variant features 180 gram vinyl, whereas all other pressings (including the Good Records Editions) are 150 gram.
2. Willy Wonka (split white / pink colour)*;
3. Random Mix Colour (every version a different colour mix);
5. Transparent Pink;
7. Opaque Pink*;
8. Coke Clear;
9. Boris Purple;
11. Transparent Neon Green; and
Note: Variants 3 to 12 were collectively offered to hardcore crowd-funding fans as a 'Cadillac Club' 10 vinyl set. These were packaged in ulta-cool Muscle Of Love style cardboard cartons and were individually numbered between 1 and 50 (see images below).
Good Records Edition Variants
Note: The 'C Side' (Side 2) vinyl labels for these variants only feature images of Alice.
13. Fluorescent Pink*;
14. Transparant Orange; and
15. Opaque Violet.
* Denotes colours that featured in the original 7" release.
Last but not least, an excellent article on the events leading up to the 12" release was published by Rue Morgue Records in December 2018.
Release Day Gallery
As fans began to proudly share their copies on social media, some numbering patterns began to emerge (I started a spreadsheet and logged every number I saw and what colour they were). This acted as a useful initial guide to people to stand a better chance of finding the variants that they were after the most.
Cadillac Club members begun to receive their packages in January 2019 and these came with a pink sheet of paper confirming the official production numbers for the first time (see below):
National Edition Variants (white numbers stamped on rear sleeve)
1. Confetti variant: 18 pressings (0,001 to 0,018);
2. Willy Wonka variant: 32 pressings (0,019 to 0,050);
3. Random Mix Colour variant: 150 pressings (0,051 to 0,200);
4. Black variant: 200 pressings (0,201 to 0,400);
5. Transparent Pink variant: 1,000 pressings (0,401 to 1,400);
6. White variant: 500 pressings (1,401 to 1,900);
7. Opaque Pink variant: 600 pressings (1,901 to 2,500);
8. Coke Clear variant: 200 pressings (2,501 to 2,700);
9. Boris Purple variant: 300 pressings (2,701 to 3,000);
10. Silver variant: 300 pressings (3,001 to 3,300);
11. Transparent Neon Green variant: 200 pressings (3,301 to 3,500); and
12. Clear variant: 500 pressings (3,501 to 4,000).
Good Records Edition Variants (pink numbers stamped on rear sleeve)
13. Fluorescent Pink variant: 150 pressings (0,001 to 0,150);
14. Transparant Orange variant: 400 pressings (0,150 to 0,550); and
15. Opaque Violet variant: 450 pressings (0,551 to 1,000).
Live From The Astroturf 12" Vinyl Album (Black Version)
2018, Good Records, GRR 50
I was fortunate to track this rare black variant, #0,286, down at the excellent UK record store Phoenix Sound (just 10 miles from where I live). I had previously dropped in to promote the album, not that it needed any extra help, and was delighted to learn that they had stocked 5 copies. By the time I'd got in touch 3 of them had unsurprinsingly sold already, with the other 2 being snapped up by myself (I have since traded the other one, #0,287, with hardcore UK Astroturf fan Chris Daniels).
Taking a look through the packaging it's immediately evident that, like the 7" release, no expense has been spared whatsoever. The gatefold sleeve is effectively a grown up version of the original design with the same beautiful metallic foil board design. This time though added money has been lavished on the centrefold, with the image of the Alice Cooper Group treated to a gorgeous pink tone effect. As if that wasn't enough, Good Records have reached new heights in extravagance by including a pink astroturf motif within the 2 slots where the vinyl disc and other goodies go in. The sheer flambouance of this is breathtaking (you will never get to see most of it) but it looks killer!
Elsewhere, those with an eye-for-detail will note that Neal Smith's drumhead has been subject to some digital re-engineering with the 2 'Ludwig' logos replaced with 'Live From The Astroturf' and 'Good Records'. Finally, the unique stamped number for every copy is now provided beneath the drumhead in silver (it was previously blue and positioned to the bottom left).
Inside the astroturf-laden slots are an oustanding, highly glossy, 16-page booklet and a ginormous double-sided poster. The booklet includes a hand-written note from Alice Cooper and a glowing testimonial from Dennis Dunaway. Also included are terrific images from the historic night, an archive image of the great Glen Buxton, press article extracts and album credits. Amongst the credits are the names of the proud fans that helped to crowd-fund the project (I'm in there somewhere). The poster features a cool series of 'then-and-now' images of the Alice Cooper Group members on one side and the now iconic album cover on the other.
Last but not least for the packaging is the brilliant hot pink Obi strip, which contains promotional material on the front and credits on the back. This is a work of art in it's own right as it also features a custom '50 Years' (of Alice Cooper) logo on the front and Muscle Of Love inspired lyric list on the back. Such is the attention to detail that even the '18' on the serial code is highlighted in white in recognition of I'm Eighteen.
As if all the above wasn't enough, the inside of the Obi strip is provided with 6 fantastic Billion Dollar Babies inspired perforated trading cards featuring each member of the Alice Cooper Group complete with printed autograph, plus an additional Live From The Astroturf card. At the bottom, 'Alice Cooper' and 'Live From The Astorturf' are presented in Killer-style font.
Being the 'Black' variant, the vinyl is pressed on 180 gram wax (all the others are 150 gram). It also features Glen Buxton on 'Side C' as the random Alice Cooper Group member to appear.
As for the music, what can I say! The recording quality is supreme in every way with a rich sound rarely heard before. The thing that again hits you is how well the intimate atmosphere of the night is captured, with every call-out from the crowd picked up and every piece of on-stage banter retained. This is great as it gives you a feel of how gigs probably were when the Alice Cooper Group first started performing together in 1968.
A big shout-out also needs to be given to Michael Bruce, who delivers a fine vocal performance on Caught In A Dream. Thereafter, Alice enters the stage to take over vocals on the remaining 7 tracks. Each and every one is a joy to behold and reveals the original Group as still being on top of their game after half a century. We already knew this though, as it was this show that largely contributed to further performances by the Alice Cooper Group in front of area-sized audiences in Nashville and the UK in 2017.
You live in hope that there will be more performances in the future, but if this is the last time we hear them in recorded form then few fans could argue that this wasn't a fitting way to close the chapter of the Alice Cooper Group.
Thank God For Chris Penn!