Old School Box Set (2011)
The lavish and limited edition Old School box set was released in June 2011 and contains a host of rare / never-before-released material from the Alice Cooper vault. It was aimed at diehard fans with a price tag to fit the bill, however, a cut down 'lite' version was released a year later. Originally limited to 5,500 units, a further 4,500 were produced due to high demand (each of which were individually numbered on the case). Additionally, 5 lucky owners found Willy Wonka style Golden Tickets inside, which treated them to a meet-and-greet with Alice.
After waiting patiently for what seemed like ages, I received my Old School Box Set (number 863) in the mail from Amazon. It turned up in a huge box and was, I have to say, extremely well packaged.
It’s hard not to admire the desk case, which is inspired by the original School's Out album cover. This is a lavish production and is certainly in keeping with the price of the box set. As with a normal school desk, it can be kept in an upright position, allowing you to view the contents which is a great touch.
My only gripes are that (a) the size and shape of this piece means that it isn’t at all easy to store (better move that wedding photo from the sideboard) 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 bands history is covered from the very beginning (The Earwigs) right through to the band 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 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 band 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 sadly does not have ‘Treasures 1’ printed on it (unlike CD 2).
Killer in St Louis (CD and LP)
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. The sound quality is remarkably crisp and several of these tracks will be making their way onto my beloved live iPod playlist in place of other examples.
7” Nazz Single
I’ve not listened to this as I already have the tracks, it’s a nice reproduction of the original single though and a very worthy addition to the set.
Here we have a fantastic tour programme reproduction and really is a great item. Also included, is a ticket stub copy (£1 entry in ’72!), a set list copy and some artwork, which are nice to have.
This item is very well produced and certainly has the feel of a 70’s type annual. Again, it looks and feels like a lot of effort has gone into it.
This is a dream come true for hardcore Alice Cooper fans and, in this respect, is a priceless collection of material. As indicated above, this sits pride of place on the sideboard in my dining room and is likely to stay there as it’s far too good to be kept out of sight.
I paid £160.00 for the set, 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 Alice and co would have been good but I understand that with 4,000 copies produced that would have been a very tall order. I don’t expect Alice and the surviving members of the band will be signing many of the desks due to the bulky size (and therefore problems transporting them) so I’ll probably be taking the programme along next time I see him instead.
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 and pray 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!
Overall Rating: 7 Skulls out of 10
See more images of this set (and the subsequent 'Lite' version) here.