Alice Cooper – Welcome to My Nightmare
1975, Atlantic Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com
1. “Welcome to My Nightmare”
2. “Devil’s Food”
3. “The Black Widow”
4. “Some Folks”
5. “Only Women Bleed”
6. “Department of Youth”
7. “Cold Ethyl”
8. “Years Ago”
10. “The Awakening”
Why can I say? No knock on the Alice Cooper group but this is the best album to feature the Alice Cooper name. It’s a shame that the original band members couldn’t have carried on together but with the songwriting help of producer Bob Ezrin and guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter a classic album was indeed delivered here.
I never really stopped to think about why this album was released through Atlantic Records while the original Alice Cooper group and the rest of Alice’s solo albums up through 1983 were all released on Warner Bros. Records. What I discovered is the fact that it was a solo release came into play in addition to Welcome to My Nightmare being considered as somewhat of a soundtrack for a TV special and stage show.
Conceived with live performances in mind, this album features Alice at his most theatrical. “Welcome to My Nightmare” is one of the all-time great openers for a live show. “Devil’s Food”, with its audio effects, serve to take you only further in the nightmare. “Only Women Bleed” is the type of classic ballad that Alice has tried to replicate many times throughout his career. “Department of Youth”, “The Black Widow” and “Cold Ethyl” are fist-pumping rockers, with the lyrics to “Cold Ethyl” delivering some truly sick humor. “Some Folks” and “The Awakening” take their influence from show tunes and musicals. “Years Ago” is just plain haunting with Alice giving creepy performance and “Steven” is more of the same and one of my favorite Alice songs of all time. “Escape” closes the album on a more upbeat note.
I don’t have a personal connection with this album like I do with Trash (my first Alice album) but there’s no denying that Welcome to My Nightmare is Alice Cooper’s most consistent and greatest release. There is no filler here. This is the album that solidified Alice as a legend. Definitely worthy of cranking up on Halloween!
The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow
(Rankin Bass Productions, 1975)
Run time: 22 minutes
I talked about wanting this lesser-known Rankin Bass special on DVD last year but decided it deserved to be recognized on its own. It originally premiered on NBC and then was later aired on CBS before being released on VHS. The last (only?) VHS release was in 1993. While the official title is The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow, it is sometimes referred to simply as The First Christmas (as evidenced by the title card and VHS box art).
For the last few years ABC Family has been airing it as a part of their 25 Days of Christmas but I have read that this year it is not on the schedule at all. It STILL has not been released on DVD so if you want to watch this special nowadays you’ll either have to track down a VHS copy or download it somewhere (I have NO CLUE how you would go about doing that). I have seen it on YouTube though. Warner Brothers still owns the rights to this special so you’d think they would’ve thrown it in as a bonus with some of the other RB specials they release year after year. At the very least they could give us the benefit of selling it at the Warner Archives site where every DVD is made to order. They gave us Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos for Pete’s sake! We can’t get The First Christmas?
VHS Cover Art
As for the special itself it is narrated by and featuring Angela Lansbury (as Sister Catherine and she sings a nice version of “White Christmas”). And The First Christmas isn’t about Baby Jesus as you might think. Instead, the special centers around a young shepherd boy, Lucas, who was involved in a lightening storm that caused him to go blind and the nuns who take him in.
The abbey that the nuns live at is putting on a Christmas pageant and Lucas is cast as one of the angels, despite his eyesight. Lucas has never seen snow and Sister Catherine, having grown up in the mountains, tries to describe it to him (the story takes place near a sea, where it never snows). During the course of the pageant, snow begins to fall and then another miracle occurs when the boy’s eyesight returns.
It’s a good tale but not the usual peppy, colorful Rankin Bass effort that we’ve come to expect from the Frosty, Santa or Rudolph specials. Still, I recommend it for anyone that enjoys the other Rankin Bass stop-motion specials.
Buy ‘The First Christmas’ on VHS at Amazon.com