Alice Cooper fans finally got to see a legitimate release of this concert film when Shout Factory stepped up to the plate and gave Good To See You Again its first official home video release in history a few years back, and now they're re-released the movie on Blu-ray. Though the film did get a theatrical release in 1974, prior to Shout!'s DVD release the only way to see the movie was 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. That release, and now this Blu-ray offering, 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 Blu-ray nor on the previous DVD release - 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 Blu-ray are as follows:
Good To See You Again is presented in a good 1080p VC-1 encoded high definition 1.85.1 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 the healthy coat of grain doesn't show any evidence of noise reduction tampering (this will irk those who want a squeaky clean image but please those who want a grainy seventies picture to look like a grainy seventies picture). 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 Blu-ray at all. Compared to the standard definition DVD release from a few years back, the improved clarity is quite noticeable, particularly during close ups. The superior compression also results in a considerably more film like presentation. Some of the shots on stage are definitely softer than a lot of videophiles will probably want them to be but this is the way that the film looked in bootleg form and on DVD so it's got to be the way that it was shot way back when. Stage lights do periodically wash out the skin tones a bit and some facial detail goes with it, but again, this is the way that it was shot. All in all, there's enough of an improvement in the picture quality here that Alice Cooper fans should be pleased with Shout! Factory's efforts so long as expectations are kept in check.Sound:
Two audio options are supplied on the disc, the first is a Linear PCM 2.0 Stereo track and the second is a brand new re-mastered DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix. 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. It also seems to have a bit more power and a bit more punch behind it for whatever reason. Either option should do you just fine, as they both sound quite good and are nice and clear, but the 2.0 track comes up the winner this time around.Extras:
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 releases.
This Blu-ray 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. All of the extras, outside of the 'concert only' version, are in standard definition. Inside the keepcase is a booklet of liner notes (no author's credit is given) containing a brief essay on the film and the chapter listing.Final Thoughts:
While the audio and the video aren't reference quality or on par with modern productions, this is to be expected and they're quite good considering the age and relative obscurity of the film in question. Shout! Factory has done a nice job carrying over the extras from the standard definition release - they're all here. 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 stuff, let's hope we see more oddball catalogue titles like this from Shout! Factory and other studios in the future. Recommended.