Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews: Uncle G’s Corner (#05)

21 November 2017
Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews
Words and Photography by Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

Seeing how this is an archival website, I’d like to introduce to my newer 420 readers, a series of essays I did for a non-profit pro-cannabis website out of New York City, some years ago. One that I’ve been involved with since the year 2011. The webmistress is the wonderful Arlene Williams aka Ganja Granny. I love her to death! The website: Green Ribbon World.

Please note … regarding this republishing. We’re going back in time. Six years ago. I was married for the second time. This past February (2017) that union was dissolved one day shy of us being a couple 22 years. No resentment or hard feelings. I’d rather look forward more than backward.

Editing: Versions 2.0 … my aim is to clean up any remaining typos and grammar errors. The originally published essays could be found on the Green Ribbon World website. When finally done (this could take some time) archiving all the past essays published, I’ll start writing new ones. In a way, I already have done so: Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews.

Green Ribbon World (website)

Uncle G’s Corner
Number: 5
May 2011

Topic: In Remembrance (originally: Smokin’ Buddies Through The Years)

So what does a long time primarily stoner dude like myself do when given the opportunity to write a somewhat regular column on a popular cannabis website, like Green Ribbon World? One thing I would like to do is author a super lengthy column about what crap it is, that marijuana is always being labeled like it’s fact; a gateway drug. Shit gets under my skin. Oh, wait…snap…I already did that; Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews: Uncle G’s Corner (#04): Parts 01 and 02.

Another thing would be to write a piece on actual people I’ve been around over the decades; past and present. Might even be a recurring theme. Some real characters, good and bad. I’d like to focus on those I consumed cannabis with, over the many decades. Or had a beer with or both! For the record, I am okay with the safe, moderate consumption of alcohol. Problems arise when one overdoes it. My Mom died at age 49 a real alcoholic. It’s a nasty slow death. As a child, I saw it with my own eyes.

Personally, I deem marijuana rather harmless for most adults. Add other substances to that like alcohol, and the effects are so different. Can be potentially dangerous. A whole other ballgame. As the days, months, and years fly by, for most this becomes a lifestyle that is difficult to maintain. When I was heavy into it, we drank, swallowed, snorted, and smoked practically anything that would alter reality for us. Labeled it as having well-deserved FUN.

The person I’d like to reminisce about is named; Stephen Tyner. Is deceased now. Has been for a while. Died back in the 1980’s. A violent crime statistic.

I have a hard time remembering now when I first heard Steve had passed away. He’s been buried for a while by the time before I learned of his early demise. Death would have had to happen, while he was in his early twenties. Obviously, I’m not a hundred percent sure. Recent internet searches bring up nothing. I lost touch with immediate family members. What I know comes via old friends Steve and I associated with.

I met Steve while in my teen years, on the Jersey Shore. Time was the late 1970’s. Yours truly was serving out yet another sentence given to me by a guy in a black robe who figured he knew what was best for me. What a long line of those I had. Judges were always big sending me places when I was a youngin’….. like a military school; Admiral Farragut Academy. An orphan with a trust fund. Cost me around five thousand dollars and I was there for less than 24 hours. When sent for a haircut, I walked out the front gate. Besides that total nightmare, multiple foster homes, juvenile detention centers, or worse yet, trying to scare me straight. ‘Scared Straight‘, a wonderful motivational program aimed at teens who have been in trouble with the law. Wish I could say that worked. Apparently, I still had a little badness in me after my court-ordered trip to Rahway State Prison. The famous documentary (1978), narrated by Peter Falk, was filmed a week before my scheduled appearance. Lucky me! Really … how fucking embarrassing! PLUS the reunion specials (OMG!).

Back to our story, this time around, the great State of New Jersey was paying me to get my G.E.D., at a place called M.A.C.O.M. in Eatontown. I had dropped out of school when I turned age 16, found a job, and went to work full time; 40 hours. For minimum wage.  A dishwasher in a breakfast/lunch place; Gab N’ Eat. Because I was a foster child, I needed permission from a Judge to do this. My social worker at the time helped make everything so. I asked him one morning if he wanted to get high with me, and he said, no. Decent guy! I might have been mature for my age, but still under age eighteen.

My G.E.D classes were held in the mornings. In a pre-test, I passed everything the first time except for math. My focus was on that. Was there with other juvenile delinquents, which included Steve. Birds of a feather, we hit it off pretty quickly.

I remember Penny, one of my GED teachers. In her early 30’s, and divorced. Hot to trot! Anytime I walked with her, it was hard not to notice guys who passed us going the other direction, turning around to check Penny out. Hopefully, they were her and not me. My skinny bubble butt attracted both sexes, while I’m sure her nicely shaped derriere did as well. The 1970’s were, after all, a wild decade. Penny attended my wedding. It was the last I ever saw of her. Always kind to me. One regret I have is that I never smoked pot with the lady. I got those vibes she did. More than once. But I never attempted to find out. Didn’t want to cross that bridge I guess. Looking back, I wish I have pursued it. Had a beautiful mind as well. Because of our ages, that would have been against the law. Am sure she would have declined.

I got along really well with Steve’s sister. Good looking girl. Real curly hair. We hung out many times. She was also at my first wedding. With other young ladies, I knew. Some I saw naked, and others I wished I had. Made for a nice group of young women. All dressed to the nines. Which made for a few awkward moments. Nothing like later on that night.  The maid of honor would hook up with one of the limo drivers. I had friends who never being around a champagne fountain before, overindulged and ended up throwing up chunks outside in the bushes. Oh, what a night!

I did get high with practically everyone else back then, including Steve. Remember, he’s our main topic. And by getting high (smoking reefer for recreational use) with Steve, that’s how I got to know his sister better. Besides sharing joints, we all drank together as well. I’d get shitface blitzed! Wine, beer, or whiskey. Whatever contained alcohol. Did drugs also. Whatever was available. Was pretty open-minded to just about anything. We did LSD together more than once. Steve’s sister wasn’t a partying fool. She attended a Catholic High School, getting pretty good grades (if I remember right). Plus this ambitious young lady also worked part-time at the hospital.  Looked great wearing white. And yeah, I had a serious crush on her.

Fire! Fire! There I was sleeping on the couch. Steve and I shared a small house together. I was like age seventeen. Steve literally fell on me. And good thing he did. Woke me up from a dead sleep. The house filled with thick gray smoke.

The story goes, Steve was hungry. Staggered into the house after a night of drinking, and turned the oven on to 400 degrees. Opened the door, and placed inside, a leftover takeout pizza. Still in the box. Imagine what happened next. Now awoken from Steve passing out on me, and then falling on the floor, I dragged his passed out drunk ass out of the house, and onto the front lawn. Next, I got the pizza box out of the oven. The pizza was burnt, black and charred. Opened all the windows. No longer any danger, I went outside while the house aired out, and passed out on the lawn next to Steve. Hours later we both woke up. I missed work that day. Almost died in a fire. Good excuse for the boss. Steve’s version had him saving OUR lives. We still remained friends. But I did move out. This was the second and last time I shared a place with him. Can you blame me?

Time marched on. Steve was best man at my first wedding. On the anniversary U.S. citizens best remember as; Pearl Harbor Day (07 Dec).

The night before the big event, Steve took me out drinking. I woke up on the floor of Steve’s fathers living room, the next morning. I regained consciousness. His Dad wished me luck in my forthcoming marriage. And on his way out the door, instructed Steve to have me drink, a huge can of tomato juice. That would sober me up, he said. Not that I drank the whole can, but I did consume at least half. I did make it to the church on time, so it must have helped. We hitched a ride from Steve’s Father’s house. Made it home with enough time to call my bride, who was getting ready to cancel the wedding not knowing where I was, and then prepare myself for that night’s festivities.

What Tyner and I did best was smoke pot. We come up with crazy ideas. Just having a good time. Doing bongs, and listening to records; Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More From The Road (1976). But unfortunately, not all times with Steve were good ones. He had a positive, good-natured side, and a really terrible bad side. Getting super wasted would most times trigger the negative personality. Trouble would ensue. I tend to be a happy person when baked or tanked unless fucked with. The same with most folks.

With Tyner, once he was fully cooked, getting into some kind of fight, was just about guaranteed. Weird shit was always bound to happen. Like this, for example. My buddy Tyner was thrown out of Madison Square Garden. We were there to see the Grateful Dead. Steve was tossed out before the show even started. We got inside, and then from being careless, and also being pretty wasted, Steve lost his ticket stub. Which he didn’t care about because he didn’t like the location of his seat anyway. That was too bad. While in the process of obtaining another seat, he had a run-in with security guards, which got him an early exit. I stayed, and watched from afar. His own fault! Watched the cops drag him away. Good concert! Saw Steve the next day. He remembered hardly anything. Like myself, amazing getting home safely.

Looking back, I wish all Steve and I did as far as getting a buzz goes, was toke weed. Maybe he’d be still alive today? Truth be known, besides pot, we did other things to escape reality with. For one, we discovered the joys and hardships of excessive drinking. Subjecting our bodies to whatever harm it caused. Did just about every drug we could find. Didn’t matter what it was. Both Tyner and I stayed away from needles during our time hanging out together. That would come later to the both of us. Not a part of my life that I am proud about. In 1986 I shot cocaine for a brief time. Mostly in my right arm. Steve got into heroin, so I was told. Stories that more than one person told me. Again, I never did needles with Tyner. A good thing. We could get hardcore together. The little devils inside us both loved to play.

I tried slowing down the drugs and drinking I was doing. The pot was never the problem. Now a newly married man. The best thing about tying the knot so young was that it triggered my maturing process. And what a slow ride to the top that one was.

For a while, I worked a full-time factory job Monday through Friday. On the weekends, I would sometimes work the flea markets. Selling real handmade leather belts and accessories. Owned a house. Duplex. Rented one side out. I was a landlord. Became a foster parent at age 19. A six-year-old girl fell into our laps. Here I was accepting responsibilities. Afraid of what would happen if I partied. With no real defenses, I was bound for failure. My bottom was a deep one.

I recognized my problem with alcohol when I was sixteen. By age seventeen, the law was up my ass. My stomach problems had begun. I’d drink whiskey for breakfast instead of a well-balanced meal. Horrible heartburn/acid reflux. No direction I was going, was a good one. Was a secret back then I kept super close to my chest … I was hooked on cough syrup (codeine) when I was 17. Lord only knows how I managed to steer clear of that. I’d sit in a room full of people, and not say a fucking word. I had an endless script from a doctor who would soon lose his license. Add to this magic little pills called; Valiums. A few folks knew I’d pop whatever I could find. Take ’em by the handfuls. The effects gave the outward appearance of having too much to drink. I’d bounce off the fucking walls walking to the bathroom. Wake up with bruises not having a clue as to how I got them. No adult supervision. Besides saying that, I take all responsibility for my actions. Could have died countless of times. For whatever reason, the grim reaper keeps looking the other way.

Getting married (age 18) forced me to behave. But from time to time, I did rebel against the responsibility. Steve’s sister and their Mom knew something was up when I broke the news. Felt I was getting married for all the wrong reasons. My actions said it all. Was a serious attempt to save myself. Plus at that time legally I was in a shitload of trouble. My childhood antics finally catching up with me. I found an open road and took it. Now when I rebelled after the fact, anything was possible. Like the one time, I was supposed to fly to West Palm Beach (Florida) to pick up a doctors car and drive it back to New Jersey.  After some drinking at the airport bar waiting for my flight, I instead decided I wanted to visit San Francisco. Hell of a detour. Another story for another day.

My life became the motto; work hard_party harder! Smoked pot and drank beer, mostly. Tried to keep a distance from drugs and whiskey. It took a while, but I did at least calm down some. Steve proceeded in his own direction as well. Time went by. We totally lost touch. Moved from New Jersey to Florida for a spell. When back I tried finding Steve every so often. I never forgot the guy. I spent time running away from my own demons, not his. And then someone told me one day he was dead. A brother from another mother. Wish it would have ended up better for him.

Onward Through The Fog…

…appendage 21 November 2017 – A major rewrite. Hopefully, my editing skills are better than they were six years ago. I added and took away from the original. Various reasons. Am glad to re-publish and improve upon this one. — Gary “Uncle G” Brown

 

Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews: Uncle G’s Corner (#04) – Gateway Drug? Part 1

27 Sept 2017
Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews
Words and Photography by Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

Seeing how this is an archival website, I’d like to introduce to my newer 420 readers, a series of essays I did for a non-profit pro-cannabis website out of New York City, some years ago. One that I’ve been involved with since the year 2011. The webmistress is the wonderful Arlene Williams aka Ganja Granny. I love her to death! The website: Green Ribbon World.

Please note … we’re going back in time. Six years ago. I was married. That one came crashing down in which I was awarded a divorce, one day shy of us being a couple 22 years. No resentment or hard feelings. I wish her well. This is growth. Can’t say I felt that way about wife #02 only months ago. Life goes on. Other aspects in which other parts changed as well. Time stands for no one.

Editing: Versions 2.0 … my aim is to clean up any remaining typos and grammar errors. The originally published essays could be found on the Green Ribbon World website. When finally done (this could take some time) archiving all the past essays published, I’ll start writing new ones. In a way, I already have done so: Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews.

 

Green Ribbon World (website)

Uncle G’s Corner
Number: 4
April 2011

The 420 Special
Topic: Gateway Drug?
Part One

How many times has this happened? A news story about how cannabis is being considered for legalization. On the TV screen, a reporter, and a stuffy looking, middle-aged person. The reporter asks; “Do you ever see marijuana, legal in this State?” And what else is there to know about the one being asked this? A political representative, currently pretending to do the people’s business. Here’s the response. “Marijuana is a gateway drug!” The voice is loud and stated very matter of fact. Serious look on their face. Appears well rehearsed. Keep in mind, the weapon used here is words. And these words in particular, weird how closely related they are to that other famous political bullshit line; do it for the children.

An example, you say. Here’s one. Let’s raise the price of cigarettes to twenty dollars a pack. Now the kids can’t afford to smoke. I’d say just about most folks would understand this. And in doing so, making the price higher for the adult users, it’s unfortunately, one of those things. For some, there now newest financial crisis, equivalent to collateral damage. They just have to deal with it. As long as the kids are safe. Just keep repeating; it’s for the children. Wanting a better mankind for all. How could a person, not be for that?

Months later you hear the politicians are depending on the extra revenue, generated from that move, to make the yearly budget. They are even disappointed when the money taken in, shows decline from their projected estimates. None of that was said in the past. What was said, was that raising prices would help children. That was the only reason given, wasn’t it? That’s what I remember anyway. And something else happened. A lot of people in their fine State quit smoking cigarettes. Taxes so high it made the product non-affordable anymore. The price is now way too high. Meanwhile back at the ranch, the ones calling themselves our elected elite, lead me to believe that they care more about themselves, their supporters, and their inner world, then they do ‘the kids’. Why not just tell us the truth to start with? I will. The true intention of the “gateway” remark, remember that……is and has always been, to see to it, that cannabis stays illegal.

Our politician has supporters that strongly oppose legalization/decriminalization of cannabis. Thinking about this, the first reason I came up with was, and all too obvious to me was the fear of losing money. Hear me out now (even if you’re reading this). Mostly everyone can identify. General population believes that only the wealthy could afford to lose money. We all got bills. Everyone’s got to eat.

Americans spend on the average, billions of dollars a year, for nothing more than to escape reality. You know, something to help cope with life’s little challenges. How far one goes up the ladder, is up to the individual. So step right up. Booze and pills to the rescue. Soon word gets around that this one brand of muscle relaxer is so much better if one swallows down the pill with a glass of chilled, red wine.

And what do we do when under their influence? One thing really popular is watching reality television. Great zone out material. The reason most love it so I imagine would be to watch what other people’s real life is. Jokes on us. Hollywood made even reality TV, fake. Get this, Jessica Simpson isn’t really all that dumb. Because of a clothing line/empire she has, the lady is damn near a billionaire nowadays. Good for her! Wonder if she has a hemp line? Tee-shirts and whatnot? Support what you believe in. That’s what I say.

So some people figure if pot was made legal, that some of the folks, would buy less alcohol, and need fewer pharmaceuticals. So the answer to making it legal is; no. Portray the weed as evil instead. And say it with conviction. Like it’s the final word. Attitude must be that any action taken to legalize, goes no further. Too bad our friend, the political puppet from paragraph one, don’t see what lies ahead.

Cannabis users are tired of hearing the word; no. The fight for legalization/decriminalization is ongoing. Lately, battles have both been won and lost. Each victory makes the next one a tad easier. Each State has its own version. One day I predict, that the conflicts will go away. Weed will be legal in all States. Cannabis will blend into everyone’s daily life. The only questions will be why, and when to use it. Not having an answer could be just as good an answer, as any other one. Restrictions on weed? There should have never been any rules, or boundaries placed on cannabis. Be it used for recreational, medical, or religious purposes.

I remember some of the 70’s. While sitting on the bowl, I would read publications like National Lampoon, Hustler, or High Times. I thought NORML was a cool organization.

Sometimes when smoking grass, I’d do bongs with the older folks. Defined here as late teens, to people in or around their 30’s. This would have happened from my mid-teens to becoming legal (1979) years.

During the intake of the cannabis, stories would be passed around. A conversation would ensue. Sometimes, about what we were presently inhaling. This time around, it’s the studies of monkeys in a lab somewhere. Official Marijuana Studies. By the United States Government.

The furry primates were forced to wear gas masks, that contained 24/7, piped in reefer smoke. Someone would say they saw pictures. “The monkeys were totally wasted man.” Breathing in Government grown pot. Higher THC levels, may I remind you. Way better than the regular weed we were purchasing. And after being bombarded with all this smoke, they then said how the monkeys were presently, in a coma-like state. Credited to the marijuana, of course. The conclusion which was formed for you was that if you smoked pot, then you’d become brain-damaged. After all, that’s what happened to the monkeys. Goes without even saying that this too could also happen to human beings. I didn’t really believe this garbage. How stupid is this? Of course, we’d expect those results with the monkeys. What human constantly smokes high THC cannabis all day, and all night? From a gas mask? For a long ass period of time? Believe me, people have tried. I figure without the masks. Sooner or later they’d pass out. Hopefully not head first in a bowl of cereal. Horrible headline;

Marijuana User Drowns Face First In a BIG bowl of (insert the name of your favorite cereal munchies when under pot’s influence; Stoned Mini-Wheats?)

To be continued…

Uncle G’s Corner – Gateway Drug? (Part 2)

https://garyunclegbrownarchives.com/2017/10/01/uncle-gs-fun-420-reviews-uncle-gs-corner-04-gateway-drug-part-2/

Gateway Drug? (Part 1) Originally Published

http://greenribbonworld.com/2011/05/10/uncle-gsviw-on-the-gateway-drug-syndrome/

Music Review: Audio Fidelity: Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies (1973_2014)

*Re-Post*
As Seen On: The Audio Fidelity Website

Spotlight: Re-Issue/Re-Master
Artist: Alice Cooper (original band)
Album: Billion Dollar Babies
Producer: Bob Ezrin
Year First Released: 1973
Audio Fidelity Re-Issue/Re-Mastered Release:  2014

As Seen on the main Classic Rock Radio UK website

Review authored by Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816
First Published: ClassicRockRadio.co.uk (main website)
Date: 16 March 2014

Alice Cooper - BDB - Audio Fidelity - front with cover

If I had a list of Uncle G’s Top Twenty-Five All-Time Favorite Rock Albums, then Alice Cooper’s 1973 hit album Billion Dollar Babies would certainly be towards the top of it. Here’s an album that as a teen gave me my own identity. Out of everyone in my inner circle of friends back then, it was I that was into Alice Cooper. Instead of getting turned on, I turned on others. My introduction to Alice Cooper was their 1972 hit song ‘School’s Out’. What’s not to love about getting rid of teachers and textbooks? Check it out, age-wise I was barely out of my single digits. Due to lyrics I identified with and a steady rock beat, I’m like a pat of butter on freshly baked bread. My mind is open and I’m absorbing all I can.

By the Winter of ’73, the album Billion Dollar Babies by the group Alice Cooper is in my record collection. It was purchased for me by adults who later on pretended to be repulsed because I was a fan of Alice Cooper’s music. I’ve remained a listener, pressing on after the band’s demise and until after Alice’s third solo effort Lace & Whiskey came out. If I played Alice Cooper after that, it was original band material only. Alice’s solo records, I really didn’t begin to appreciate except Welcome To My Nightmare in which I consider to this day, one of his best efforts, until he released Trash (1989). After that, I re-evaluated my opinion of what Alice has done since splitting with the original group.

From his debut solo record Welcome To My Nightmare (1975), to the year 2014, there are more pluses than minuses. The man known as Alice Cooper is considered an elder statesman in heavy metal nowadays. Age wise, is well into his sixties and to this day is still more than capable of teaching the younger bands how to rock out as well as putting on one of the highest energy metal shows being offered. There is an occasional ballad thrown in the set list, which is more than welcome seeing how some of his best known songs are just that, ballads. Classics like Only Women Bleed, or I Never Cry. Alice Cooper is currently in the process of releasing a cover/tribute album, and performing shows with Aerosmith and Motley Crew. Not to mention this is right on the heels of charting an original band reunion of sorts with a studio album again produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin called Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011).

Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies (1974) album, and the original band’s last album together Muscle Of Love (1974), is what seriously caught my attention. These records got the repeat plays at social functions. At least the ones I attended. For the record, Uncle G thinks anything in the original band’s catalog is worth having, especially the stuff they did for Warner Brothers. I fell into the albums Billion Dollar Babies and Muscle Of Love likely because they were new at the time when I was seriously focused. I can still remember Alice making the promotional rounds for Billion Dollar Babies on TV. One such time had Alice performing ‘Sick Things’ on a drama/mystery program called The Snoop Sisters. A show about two old tough broads solving crime, Alice was perfectly cast as the leader of a cult. It definitely motivated me to play the album more.

And yes, first it was wax in which I played on an early 1970’s record box. This was modified with the original speakers being disconnected, and then the player being hooked up with better speakers and separated on each side of a bedroom I shared with two older cousins (one in which was a pothead). Why this even matters is that this ended up being one of my first lessons in what stereo really was, and how different sounds were heard from each speaker. Remember, I first grew up with mono.

In the song ‘Elected’, Alice’s vocals mainly come out of one side (left), while the band’s actual music, comes out the other (right). The music could sometimes overpower the vocals. So another lesson learned early on; it was important where and how the speakers were located, as well as how the balance button on the stereo receiver was set.

Next, comes the wonderful world of headphones and a company whose headphones I absolutely fell in love called Sennheiser. Now I could hear every detail. Over the decades, the record player was replaced by better and better stereos. Sound was important to me. I grew up when transistor radios were all the rage. A rock song filled with different sounds, all coming out of this shitty little speaker. Two words, fuck that.

I purchased Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies after first having it on wax, cassette, 8-track, and now I have three different versions on CD, with one being the new SACD mastered by a man with a reputation for being the best at what he does in today’s music world, Mr. Steve Hoffman.

Self confession, I’m NOT a committed one-hundred percent audiophiliac. Due to having too much on my plate as a rule, when I have the free time, I come close. I don’t like to be anal…not as a rule. Sometimes I think they go hand in hand. I’m glad the purists are out there. Needed for archival reasons the most, so many good recordings that now sounded dated, only because they were mastered at a time when technology was at it’s best for being in the twentieth century. My review here might sound slanted a bit. I admit to being an old time Alice Cooper listener, and also to digging better sounding stereo equipment. I’m still dragging my feet in MP3 Land. The only thing I feel should be compressed is waste products, not music. MP3 music brings back the memories of transistor radios with a crappy speaker (broadcast in wonderful mono).

I know the words and music to Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies by heart. I also probably know more than the average Sick Thing when it comes to the band Alice Cooper, and the original bands’ music catalog. I’ve never seen myself as a fanatic though. My association with Sick Things (fans of Alice Cooper) has gone from rather well to horribly wrong. In all that time, I had a few entertaining moments meeting members of the original group and hanging out with them for a spell. I’ve conducted/coordinated interviews with Michael Bruce and Neal Smith. I also did a beer and a cigarette run for Glen Buxton (RIP). I’d like to meet Dennis Dunaway and Alice (formerly Vincent Damon Furnier) one day. So, before you are my credentials for reviewing this SACD. A story that needed to be told, especially if you the reader were so inclined as to like and follow up after reading by buying if you have not already, this new SACD.

For the record, the Alice Cooper band sixth studio album, Billion Dollar Babies, was a team Alice project. All involved from Shep Gordon in management to the album’s producer Bob Ezrin, deserve credit in this being as successful as it was. Plus some additional musicians that played shall we say, a tad under the radar, and contributed to the best of their abilities, such as Donovan, Steve Hunter, Dick Wagner, and the much underrated talents of Mick Mashbir and Bob Dolin, who went on a few years later to form a band called Billion Dollar Babies, with original Cooper members Bruce, Dunaway, and Smith. They did one album called Battle Axe. It would be wonderful if Steve Hoffman could re-master Cooper’s Muscle Of Love and the band Billion Dollar Babies Battle Axe in the same way. Anyway, the BIG secret at the time was that lead guitarist was having health issues. Explains the other hands in the BDB project. All that mattered was the end result, with everyone being a team player focused on making the best Alice Cooper record they could. In an imagined That Metal Show showdown, Billion Dollar Babies would surely be a contender as one of Alice’s best, with or without the original band.

Comparison: I enter as exhibit A the original Billion Dollars Babies CD that Warner Brothers first offered. Exhibit B is the Rhino 2001 two CD re-mastered version. Exhibit C is the new SACD put out just recently by Audio Fidelity. Exhibit A has been played in the presence of Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce, and Neal Smith without them saying anything bad about the audio. All discs are in near mint or mint condition. The Uncle G Music Collection is kept up nicely and stored in a dry and cool place. Playback of each disc was done on a real home stereo (Sony – Phillips) and on a Blu-ray player (was lunch time and the living room was more convenient having a meal in then our home office). I would like to make clear…NEVER ONE TIME…was any of these versions of Billion Dollar Babies heard via a computer. Am sure the iTunes version is cool and all, but that’s not really what this is about. First off, it’s considered an honor that a company like Audio Fidelity would be interested in re-issuing any CD. I see it as a way to properly preserve and recreate with newer technology what was not available at the time. In my mind, there is no improving the work Bob Ezrin or all those that helped make this brilliant album did. What Steve Hoffman and Audio Fidelity materialized forty years after the Billion Dollars Babies release, let’s find out.

Alice Cooper - BDB - Audio Fidelity - front (promo)

Uncle G reviews Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies (2014 Audio Fidelity)

The first thing I did was listen to the Warner Brothers CD of Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies. My earliest comparison would be that of the CD to the memories of the Billion Dollar Babies album I grew up listening to. The CD had its advantages. No flipping the album over from Side A to Side B. No skipping anywhere. The stereo mix was the same as I remembered from the album. No difference in clarity that I could remember. I took care of my turntables and records. Back in the 80’s / 90’s my home stereo was made up of either Pioneer or Kenwood equipment. I admit, more convenient to have on Compact Disc. Seems to play/sound the same each and every time.

The original released CD to the Rhino version, I found interesting. Of course, the Rhino edition is presented LOUDER. The re-mastering process isn’t bass-friendly all the time. That can be evident on the album’s closing number, ‘I Love The Dead’. The plus side is a fuller sound in parts, especially in the piano lead homage to transvestites, a show-tune called ‘Mary Ann’.

Wake the kids and gather the folks from the hood, it’s Hybrid SACD Time!! First off, I took care in opening it. Artwork from the album is re-created, and much to my surprise and approval, so is the BILLION Dollar bill that came inside the album that I of course, taped to my teenaged self’s bedroom wall. The one included today is suitable for framing. My SACD was numbered; “Limited Edition 1101.” I took pictures, I was so impressed.

Pressing the play button, the first song on Billion Dollar Babies ‘Hello Hooray’ begins to play. My hand reaches for the volume knob. I turn it up from 2 to 3, and then 4. No distortion. It’s not as much in the red as Rhino’s remastering job. At this point, I have all three versions of BDB in separate CD trays and can pause and play from any of the three, at any time. It’s obvious the SACD is superior and that’s just hearing the first song.

The second track ‘Raped and Freezin’ proves it more. Keyboards in the background are clearer after the 2-minute mark, as is Alice’s vocals all throughout.

Track three is ‘Elected’. Alice’s vocals mostly come out the left speaker and the music mostly on the right. Listening in any format, it was always due to a placement of speakers as to if I could clearly make out every lyric, and even the political banter at the end. It’s all good here on the SACD release. Remember we have two vital ingredients to Alice Cooper; audio and visual. Every word Alice sings is important, for they paint a visual in which the music helps to project. These songs are like tiny plays. It’s theater for the mind. Some might have labeled Alice Cooper art rock because of this, but most just saw them as a hard rock act, even when touring with a guillotine and an electric chair as props. Not exactly the same as Deep Purple being a real hard rock act. KISS was Alice on steroids times four. And what drama they ended up being.

I noticed when all three CDs were in my players that I had three different total times on display. The Rhino / Warner Archives comes in at 41:05 – original Warner Brothers version at 41:08, and the new SACD leads the pack at 41:14. I asked myself why that was.

Easy explanation concerning the extra five seconds between original BDB and the Steve Hoffman mastered one. The Hybrid SACD version kept in the studio banter found before the song, ‘Billion Dollar Babies’. It goes something like this:

“OK I need one more. Tape four Dolby version.”

Could it be Mr. Ezrin in the control booth? I LIKE rarities, and it sure does sound RARE, for it didn’t appear on the BDB album I had as a teenager. Don’t know why it was included here on the hybrid SACD, but as a purist, I don’t really dig it being there. So much for a perfect 5 star review. The song itself sounds GREAT!! It’s a real hard-rocking drum song, and Alice Cooper’s drummer Neal Smith simply smokes on this one. I CRANKED the volume up listening to it. When I listen to Alice Cooper, so do my neighbors. I can report no other audio ID surprises. I feel weird bitching, but it is what it is. I’m just not used to that being inserted before hearing Neal’s drum intro after the lapse of silence in-between songs. Maybe I’m a tad anal? Because of the type of record this is, I feel it ruins the atmosphere that the songs played before this one set up. The mind should be fully focused, and it kills the concentration. Saying that I must point out that it’s easily re-established once the number starts up.

‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ gives me the opportunity to say that without the songwriting ability of Michael Bruce, the successful writing team of Bruce / Cooper would not have ever existed. Michael Bruce’s real talent is to write music that remains in your head long after the song had stopped playing. Alice knew/knows how to make a song his own by creating words and phrases his onstage character could react to. And here’s how you got one hit composition after another. The same formula is used on Welcome 2 My Nightmare with the newest Bruce / Cooper composition (with the additional help of Bob Ezrin) being ‘When Hell Comes Home’. This is the FIRST a Alice Cooper record charted in the Top 25 since Trash. Congratulations to all involved.

Also worth mentioning in the song ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ is Dennis Dunaway’s bass and how clear one can hear his playing, not only on this song but throughout the whole SACD release. Dennis’ bass work is simply superb. Explains why he was consistently at the top of the best bass player polls in those 1970 rock magazines year in and year out.

‘Generation Landslide’ is the next song and sounds as crisp as I’ve ever heard it. Followed by The Cooper’s heartfelt appreciation to their fans, a rather darker number called ‘Sick Things’. Pay attention, for the work of Glen Buxton can be heard, as can be said on the album’s closer ‘I Love The Dead’. Minor contributions but important ones nevertheless. Would be Glen’s last time working on a Cooper project. Dude’s really nowhere to be found on the originals band next, and last Alice Cooper album, Muscle Of Love.

For the louder I played this CD, the clearer the music became. Enjoyed it to its last lyric and closing note.

Alice Cooper - BDB - Audio Fidelity - Billion Dollar Bill (promo scan)

Rating: Using the one to five star rating system, Uncle G gives Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies (2014 Audio Fidelity) – mastered by Steve Hoffman, 4.75 stars. It’s perfect in every way except well…you know (see above).

Alice Cooper - BDB - Audio Fidelity - back

Date Posted: 2014-03-16T00:00:00

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