Old School Box Set

Old School Box Set (2011)

Background

The lavish Old School Box Set was released in June 2011 and contains a host of rare and never-before-released material from the Alice Cooper vault. It was aimed at diehard fans with a price tag to fit the bill (RRP about £200!), however, a cut down 'Lite' version was released a year later (see below).  

 

Originally limited to 5,500 units, a further 4,500 were produced due to high demand (each of which were individually numbered).  Additionally, 5 lucky owners found Willy Wonka style Golden Tickets inside, which treated them to a meet-and-greet with Alice and a gift bag (see image below).

A Golden Ticket (not mine)

After waiting patiently for what seemed like ages, I received my Old School Box Set (#0,863) in the mail from Amazon.  It turned up in a huge box and was, I have to say, extremely well packaged.

 

The Box

 

It’s hard not to admire the desk case, which is inspired by the original School's Out album sleeve of 1972 (the common denominator being designer Ernie Cefalu).  This is a lavish production and is certainly in keeping with the price of the box set.  As with a traditional desk, it can be kept in an upright position, allowing you to view the contents (a great touch).

 

My only gripes are that (a) the size and shape of this piece means that it isn’t easy to store and (b) the unique number is printed on (it would have been great if this could have been a metallic plaque).  Neither of these are major complaints though.

 

Old School DVD

 

This was the main attraction for me and the DVD combines some very good, and rare, video footage together with interviews with the band plus Bob Ezrin.  An awful lot of the band's history is covered from the very beginning (i.e. The Earwigs) right through to the group's split.  There are also some neat interludes based around the box set styling.  Oh, and yes, the chicken story is in there too in case you never heard it!

 

There are many highlights on this disc, my personal favourites being the stories around John Tatum, Alice and the knife and Glen Buxton, The Greasers and the cigarette.  Some of the general behind the scenes footage of the band is also fascinating and gives us a small glimpse into life on the road (and in the air).

 

As indicated in Bob Ezrin’s introduction, it is obvious that there were technical / time constraints during the production of the DVD.  Whilst that can be forgiven, it is highly unfortunate that the subject of the group's split was covered at a later stage by just Bob and Alice.  It would have been nice to see the whole band cover this issue under one roof and put the various rumours to bed once and for all).

 

Treasures 1 & 2 CD’s

 

Both these CD’s are great and feature some ultra rare songs and radio ads throughout the history of the band.  I particularly liked the early, and extremely raw, versions of I’m Eighteen and Desperado on CD 1 and School’s Out on CD 2 (the ‘Kids Session’ is hilarious).  The case of the first CD does not have ‘Treasures 1’ printed on it like CD 2 has.

 

Killer in St Louis (CD and Vinyl)

 

On reflection, this is probably the jewel in the Old School Box Set crown. What we have here is an excellent quality recording of a band at the height of their powers in 1971.  The sound quality is remarkably crisp on noth formats and several of these tracks will be making their way onto my beloved live iPod playlist in place of other examples from previous releases.  

Wonder Who's Loving Her Now? 7" Vinyl Single

 

This is a nice reproduction of the original single (which is almost impossible to find) and is therefore a very worthy addition to the set.

 

Treasures Folder

 

Contained within the folder, we have a great reproduction of the Killer Tour programme of 1971 (complete with printed copy of the Nobody Like Me flexi disc).  Also included is a replica ticket stub from The Alice Cooper Show at Wembley Arena in 1972 (just £1 entry!), a copy of the setlist and 5 pieces of Alice Cooper Group era artwork on A4 card.    

 

Old School Yearbook

 

This marvellous 60-page hardback book nicely re-creates the feel of a real high school yearbook and contains a detailed biography of the Alice Cooper Group by music journalist Lonn Friend together with stacks of archive images and photos. 

 

Summary

 

This is a dream come true for Alice Cooper Group fans and, in this respect, is a priceless collection of material.  I paid £160.00 for the set in 2011, which is reasonable value based on what is provided.  I would have preferred however, to have paid slightly less and forgone the Killer and Spoken CDs as the material in these is almost identical to that provided in Vinyl and DVD form respectively.

 

Something signed by the surviving Alice Cooper Group would have been good, but I understand that with 5,500 copies initially produced, it would have been a very tall order. I don’t expect Alice and the other guys will be signing many of the desks due to the bulky size (and therefore problems transporting them).

 

So is it worth investing in?  Yes, of course it is and a huge well done to everyone involved in making this a reality.  I can only hope that that another set of similar epic proportions will be released covering the solo years!

 

Finally, my set clearly had a fault as there was no Golden Ticket inside!

Old School 'Lite' (2012)

 

A stripped down budget version of the Old School Box Set was released in Autumn 2012 at the bargain price of about £30.00.  For your money you got Treasures CDs 1 and 2, the In Their Own Words audio CD and the CD of the St. Louis Concert CD.  In between the CDs is a smaller version of the Yearbook, this isn't brilliant though as it's quite cumbersome to read due to the thickness of the CD case and the binding of the pages.

 

This set offers exceptional value for money so if you couldn't stretch to the full set then there's no excuse not to take a punt now.  An absolute bargain!

Old School Box Set Cake (2015)

This fantastic cake was a present from my wife for my 37th birthday and was made by a very talented local cake maker.  Her work was given the ultimate thumbs up by the one-and-only Ernie Cefalu, who designed the original artwork!