Music Video of the Day: (No More) Love At Your Convenience by Alice Cooper (1977, dir. ???)

Oh. Apparently this isn’t the most well-liked Alice Cooper song out there with comments on YouTube saying things like “Pure crap!!!” and “Didn’t Alice claim he was too drunk to even recall recording this song?” I wouldn’t be surprised about the second one seeing as, according to Wikipedia, he hospitalized himself for alcoholism himself after the album tour.

I guess for a short period in the late-70s, Alice Cooper decided to take a break from the usual persona, and try out a character named Maurice Escargot–a drinking PI you can see at the start of the video.

The song may not be good, but I like that it exists. It’s a reminder to me that behind the band named Alice Cooper is a guy who also goes by the name Alice Cooper who plays a persona while in real life he is a golfer and was friends with Glen Campbell. About a month ago, after Campbell passed away, Alice gave a short interview about his relationship with him.

The video is a different matter. I love it.

While two totally different songs, it has that same grainy 1970s looking insanity that makes the video for Elected so good.

Talking about the video in detail would be like talking about the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band–yes, he was in that movie. I’m just gonna show a few thing that caught my eye.

You’ve got The Man Who Laughs (1928).

A very judgmental James Cagney.

Little Red Riding Hood.

Alice Cooper getting flashed.

I have no idea what to make of this guy.

Ah, honey. You didn’t have to bring home a Funkadelic music video with you.

Cosmic Slop by Funkadelic (1973)

I wonder how many more of these every-thing-and-the-kitchen-sink-pre-MTV music videos are out there? I ask since those were popular at the start of MTV. Yet, most of the videos from the 1960s and 1970s that I’ve spotlighted so far, aren’t that type of video.

If you’re interested in the album this song is from, Lace And Whiskey, then there’s an article over on Ultimate Classic Rock.



Music Video of the Day: Elected by Alice Cooper (1972, dir. Hart Perry)

It is prime time to do this music video now because of the election. That’s why you’ll find numerous videos of Alice Cooper performing the song this year. However, even if this wasn’t an election year, this one is not just a fun election related music video to do. It is important considering this was made in 1972. I don’t mean that there weren’t music videos around then. There most certainly were. But this one is different. It probably would have gone completely over my head had I not stumbled upon a quote on the mvdbase entry for this music video.

“Here’s my take on the whole video history thing. I might have to take a little credit for the bit of attention that the ‘Elected’ video has gotten because I always tried to make a very big deal out of making sure this was always mentioned in all of Alice’s biographical material. Music videos (or promo clips as us old timers referred to them before the advent of MTV) have been around before rock ‘n’ roll even reared its ugly head. Most, if not all of these “videos” were of the artist performing a song — maybe with a backdrop if they got fancy. In the 60’s, the Beatles and a few other bands made some videos that were a bit more like the ones we know of today. They were made specifically as promotional vehicles for the current single. The ‘Strawberry fields’ video was very psychedelic and showed the Beatles running around in a park — frontwards and backwards. There were others by the Who and the Stones, etc. as well.
“The thing that stands out about the ‘Elected’ video is that there was no performance or lip-synching which was very unusual. It also was possibly the first video that had a storyline. And, the most subtle yet significant thing, was the editing. The editing was done in a quick, choppy fashion which ultimately came to be what MTV was most cited for. After people noticed MTV was a force to be reckoned with, commercials and TV shows (Miami Vice) started to pattern themselves to look like MTV with this editing style.” [Brian Renfield Nelson, Alice Cooper band member, Sept. 1995, quoted from Alice Cooper Trivia]

He’s right. If you look at 1970’s music videos by ABBA, then you will see some interesting stuff going on. For example there’s quick cuts, a moving camera, it isn’t just them all by themselves the entire time, etc. However, you’ll notice that while ABBA is lip-syncing, no one is doing that in Elected. Also, even though ABBA videos have artsy stuff going on, there isn’t really a story there. You can see more of one in Take A Chance On Me, but that was 1978. Plus, it is still made up largely of a performance. There’s no performance of the song going on in Elected. The song is played over what could be clips from a film, except there’s no time when it cuts back to Alice Cooper playing.

It is a bit of an unfair comparison in quality because Alice Cooper had Hart Perry and ABBA had famed Swedish director Lasse Hallström, but the differences between Elected and the ABBA music videos highlight why it was so revolutionary. It has the band, it is live-action, it uses real sets rather than just a backdrop, it has a storyline, it has no lip-syncing, and it has no re-creation of a performance. I looked through the 129 music videos I have done prior to this, and I couldn’t find a single one that met all those characteristics. I know there must be one out there, but I haven’t hit another one other than Elected. There were a couple that came close like Self Control by Laura Branigan, but even that had her lip-sync a few lines. The same for Pressure and We Didn’t Start The Fire by Billy Joel.

Probably the most prominent thing that Hart Perry is known for is being the cinematographer on the documentary Harlan County U.S.A. (1976).

That’s the only member of the crew I could find.

I am not sure if the music video is cut short, but I do know the line about him not caring about people’s problems is missing from the music video as it is posted above.


Music Video of the Day: Feed My Frankenstein by Alice Cooper (1992, dir. Penelope Spheeris)

I thought this would be simple. It’s October, so of course Feed My Frankenstein by Alice Cooper would fit. Also, I find that I get more hits on artists and songs that people know. It was in Wayne’s World (1992). A perfect storm to feature as a music video of the day. I had no idea it would be so difficult to find out who directed it when it should have been obvious.

You would immediately think that Penelope Spheeris directed the music video. I went to the two major databases on music videos–IMVDb and mvdbase–but neither of them had a director listed.

At first glance, it looked like what I remembered from the movie. I pulled out my copy of Wayne’s World and played that sequence side-by-side with the music video. It certainly is the same set, but they actually look quite different.

The next thing that came to mind was that it made sense that she would shoot a little extra material for Alice Cooper so he would have a music video for his song. After all, she directed The Decline of Western Civilization movies and has a personal quote on IMDb that says:

[on why she does documentaries about metal and punk music] “I mean, look, you don’t see me making documentaries on Britney Spears, you know what I mean? Sweetheart of a little girl, you know. Or Madonna. That’s not my thing. I just like this harder edge stuff. That’s just me.”

My next step was to look up whether she did have any credits for directing music videos, and up came some results. She shot at least three music videos for Megadeth. However, that was only a tease because she actually directed the music video for Megadeth’s cover of Alice Cooper’s No More Mr. Nice Guy.

Luckily, the website Songfacts came to my rescue, and said exactly what I thought to begin with when I went in to writing this post. She shot some more footage to create an extended version of that scene from the movie.

I don’t know how that wasn’t in the two biggest music video databases, but there’s the series of steps I went through to find out that piece of information.

Sadly, that’s pretty much all I have on this music video. The difference between the music video and the film, is that you get the full song with all its’ sexual metaphors. The only other thing to mention is that Alice Cooper was originally going to perform School’s Out, but two weeks before filming, Mike Myers was told by the band’s manager Shep Gordon that he would be performing their new song, Feed My Frankenstein. Again, thank you Songfacts for that information too.


Quickie Review: Prince of Darkness (dir. by John Carpenter)

If there’s a horror filmmaker who truly deserves the label of maverick and master at the same time it would be one John Carpenter. From the very beginning, Carpenter did his films his way despite working within the Hollywood studio system. This has made his films turn out not as well-received later on in his career (especially during the 1990’s) as studio interference and him burning out after doing so many projects one right after the other. In 1987 he made one of the more under-appreciated horror film of that decade with Prince of Darkness. This was a film born out of Carpenter at some point during the 80’s studying on the subjects of theoretical physics and atomic theory (the man’s a veritable polymath).

The film begins with a sequence montage of setting up the setting for the film. It’s a rundown, but still occupied church in Los Angeles where we see an old priest pass away leaving another priest (played by Carpenter vet Donald Pleasance) the secret hidden within the church to him. This secret leads to this priest asking physics professor Birack (another Carpenter vet in Victor Wong) to assist him in unraveling the mysteries of the container beneath the church. With some of Birack’s best students to assist them the film moves onto the meat of the story. We find out that the container vessel that has been kept secret under the Church and by the Inner Circle of the Vatican itself is a prison for Satan itself who whose form is a swirling green liquid within.

Prince of Darkness, written by Carpenter himself under the pseudonym of Martin Quatermass, posits an interesting take on the concept of good vs. evil. The film puts forth the idea that Satan is not just evil, but may only be the son of an even bigger evil. An evil voiced out by the professor as the Anti-God. Carpenter’s foray into researching about theoretical physics really helps in making all the talk of quantum mechanics, atomic theory and the like within the film to try and explain evil in a scientific way made for an interesting film. It is definitely one of the more inventive take on the God vs. Satan theme then and even now.

The film does suffer from having a weaker cast the your typical Carpenter film. Pleasance seems to be sleepwalking through the film and whose only role seems to either burst out in indignant rage against what his Church tried to keep secret or to spout out observations in a hushed, conspiratorial tone. His opposite in Victor Wong does a much better job in the role of the physics professor whose not so entrenched in the material world of science that he’s not willing to entertain the thought that Satan really is the swirling green liquid in the container. The rest of the cast do a good enough job to be better than one-note, but not enough that its difficult to empathize with any of them that when they finally get killed or possessed in the film we don’t feel anything for them.

Prince of Darkness marked the second leg in what Carpenter has called his “Apocalypse Trilogy” which began with 1982’s The Thing remake and ends with 1995’s In the Mouth of Madness. Thematically this film works within the context of that apocalyptic theme. It is a film that’s really a low-budget “Second Coming” film which began to manifest within all forms of entertainment during the late 80’s as the 1990’s neared and the new millennium loomed over everyone. While the film’s cast performance was probably one major reason why the film didn’t do as well as it should’ve in a horror-crazy environment of the 1980’s the film has gained a considerable amount of a cult-following since. Prince of Darkness, as flawed as it was, really shows Carpenter at his most rebellious (something he would exponentially reveal years later with the subversive They Live) in not just taking on the concepts of God and Church vs Science and Logic, but in creating a film with an ending so ambiguous that it probably would kill what good will some audiences were willing to give it down the drain. But it’s an ending which tied into his “Apocalypse Trilogy” and one that horror filmmakers still not willing to use.