Alice Cooper fans have wanted to see a legitimate release of this concert film for a long time, and now Shout Factory has stepped up to the plate and give Good To See You Again its first official home video release in history. Though the film did get a theatrical release in 1974, since then the only way to see the movie has been to plunk down for a less than perfect quality bootleg copy if you were lucky enough to find on online or at a record of comic book convention. This release, thankfully, makes those illegal copies of the movie completely obsolete and even throws in some decent bonus features as well, as if you needed further reason to upgrade (if you had a bootleg at all in the first place).
But what exactly is this movie?
Well, in 1973 Alice Cooper and his band were at the top of their game. Having just released the Billion Dollar Babies record, they were touring in support of it and their star was definitely on the rise. Alice was backed by Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce, Neal Smith and Glen Buxton and they were a live force to be reckoned with, combining sleazy glam rock with horror movie influenced theatrics. This film documents two of their concerts from this tour (recorded in Dallas on 4/28/73 and Houston on 4/29/73), and in between songs we're 'treated' to oddball comedic sketches from Alice and the band.
A few words about those sketches = they're goofy. Really, really goofy. So goofy in fact that a few of them are pretty hard to watch without reaching for the remote. The first bit, where Alice and the band do a lounge act only to trash the set once it's done, is an interesting way to segue into the opening number for the concert itself, which is Hello, Hooray. After that though, the skits start to fall pretty flat. The premise behind it all is that the director of the film is chasing the band down as they don't want anymore to do with him or his project. He won't take no for an answer, however, and he follows them around and more or less makes a nuisance of himself. At least, that's how it plays out in the original version of the film, which is the one presented on the film here. There's an alternate version of the film where the skits are replaced with old movie footage (and sadly, that version is not represented in any form on this DVD – it would have been really nice to see both cuts of the film presented here).
Where this movie earns really high marks, however, is with the concert footage. While the lighting wasn't the best, the cameras capture Alice and the band with all the dark theatrics that made them famous and that Alice would carry on once the band split up shortly after this movie was made. A vast majority of the songs performed here are instantly recognizable, and classics such as I'm Eighteen and Elected go over really well live, but so do more obscure tracks like Unfinished Sweet and Raped And Freezin'. Alice leers over his microphone stand sporting a dirty white jumpsuit and knee high leopard print boots that make him look like some sort of demented, perverted ring leader in a truly off the wall three ring circus. He sounds great here, his voice is strong during the angrier moments but it handles the softer side of a couple of the songs just as capably.
The band, the classic line up represented here, also sound excellent. No one really misses a beat and everything sounds tight and professional without losing its edge. The drums are very solid (Alice notes in the commentary that they always tried to have one more piece in the drum kit than Keith Moon had at any given point) and the guitar sounds sleazy and sick and beautiful. The quality of the skits notwithstanding, this is prime Alice Cooper material and something that fans should not miss.
The track listing for the concert performances on this DVD are as follows:
Billion Dollar Babies
Raped And Freezin'
No More Mr. Nice Guy
I Love The Dead
Under My Wheels
The Lady Is A Tramp (studio)
Good To See You Again is presented in a good high definition 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. While there is some print damage throughout playback, it's usually of the minor variety and while sometimes the colors look a little muted, overall the image quality is pretty solid. There aren't any issues with mpeg compression artifacts or edge enhancement and aside from some minor line shimmering in a couple of spots, this transfer is fine. Note that some of the concert footage is a little on the dark side, but this is simply due to the fact that the lighting used during the performance wasn't really ideally suited to filming – it's not really the fault of the DVD authoring. In comparison to the bootleg copies of this that have been floating around for years, the image quality is excellent but when compared to newer music releases, it might seem a little lackluster. Overall though, things are fine.
Two audio options are supplied on the disc, the first is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track and the second is a brand new re-mastered Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix (taken from the original 16-track master tapes, according to the press release). No subtitles or closed captioning options are available. Quality wise, this disc sounds pretty solid. The 5.1 mix basically just fills things out a bit more and puts the band up front and the audience in the back but it works and there are some cool directional effects in a couple of spots. The 2.0 mix sounds truer to the version of the film you've heard before (if you've heard it before) and it lacks the dynamic range of the Surround mix but presents the film in a version closer to its theatrical release. Either option should do you just fine.
The main feature on this release comes in the form of a full length commentary track from Alice Cooper himself. While Alice is in very good spirits and tries to interject some humor into the recording, there is unfortunately too much dead air space here. Cooper jokes that he still visits the boots he wears in the film at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame where they're in display so that he can pet them and feed them, and does a good job of pointing out where he can see that he's obviously intoxicated on screen. He mentions how John Lennon really liked Elected and took it quite seriously even though the band meant it as a joke, and he discusses some of the wardrobe details and gives some background on a few of the band members and what has happened to them since the film was completed. When Cooper is talking, things are interesting and while the commentary is pretty light, it's fun, but again, the stretches of dead air don't do this track any favor. Maybe someone should have been there moderating him to prompt him for more information.
Following the commentary track is a single deleted scene involving the band going to catch their plane and the unpredictable results that occur because of it. There's also an extended/outtake version of a song from the film presented here in a slightly longer version.
Rounding out the extra features are biographies for the band members, a still gallery of promotional material for the film, the original theatrical trailer for the film, and previews that play before you get to the main menu screen for other Shout Factory DVD and CD releases.
This DVD also comes with a 'play concert only' option that allows you to watch the film without the inserted sketch bits. Anyone who has seen this feature before knows that not all of those bits and in the case of this feature, it's really the music that matters so this is a nice touch.
While the audio and the video aren't pristine, they're quite good considering the age and relative obscurity of the film in question and Shout Factory has done a nice job assembling extra features for what a lot of us thought would probably be a barebones release. The concert footage is great, even if some of the sketches don't work so well, and this material stands as a testament to how good Alice was in his prime. Good To See You Again comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.