Single of the Week: Alice Cooper – “He’s Back” (The Man Behind the Mask) (7″ Single)

I’m delving into the world of the single! I’ll buy a 7”, 12” or CD single every week and post my findings here. Who knows what musical discoveries will be made?

Cool 80s Horror Cover.
Cool 80s Horror Cover.

You can’t beat a bit of Coop but it was the cover that made this week’s single stick out from the pack. I was never that fussed about the Friday the 13th franchise but the image of Alice as Jason Vorhees is great fun. Two iconic Horror villains for the price of one! In the 70s Cooper usually assumed a “hapless victim” role, but in the 80s Alice’s onstage persona was definitely taking on the more predatory characteristics of a slasher movie baddie.

Both Alices appear here. We’ve got the A-Side “He’s Back” (The Man Behind The Mask) which is the poppy, keyboard-driven theme from Friday the 13th Part IV: Jason Lives but its title could equally apply to the masked Alice: this single and its parent album Constrictor saw Cooper’s return in 1986 after retiring from the music industry three years earlier. Representing the 70s era we have a live version of Billion Dollar Babies from 1976, presumably from the Go to Hell tour. This rendition is interesting: Alice sings well but the song’s performance is a touch loose with some of the studio version’s catchy guitar licks over-simplified or barely played at all. It’s good to hear the band playing around with the song though: the guitar solos are excellent and the whole performance sounds muscular.

At £2 I think I probably overspent on this a bit. If I’d poked around online I’d have found the 12” which also has a live I’m Eighteen from 1982. On one hand the 12” is the more appealing item but, on the other hand, if I hadn’t found this in the shop I wouldn’t have known about it at all. For subsequent Singles of the Week, however, I may start transferring my attention away from the High Street and onto the Interwebs to see what happens.

Alice Cooper - He's Back 7" Back Cover

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36 thoughts on “Single of the Week: Alice Cooper – “He’s Back” (The Man Behind the Mask) (7″ Single)”

  1. Wa wa we wa!

    Thanks for posting this. Now I finally know where that live version of Billion Dollars Babies came from. All I know is that I had it on a compilation called Prince of Darkness, but had no idea why it was there, because Prince of Darkness collected material from Constrictor and Raise Your Fist. Now I know. Thanks man!

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    1. Well there you go! I don’t remember that compilation… but it didn’t have the “I’m Eighteen” track on it? I’d rather have had the 12″ but because I’m buying one every week I just end up picking up the most appealing thing in the racks. All my research is done afterwards! It’s a cool item for the collection anyway.

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      1. Nope – it did not have the I’m Eighteen track on it. Here’s the track list. It’s actually pretty good since it collects the best stuff from that period:

        Price of Darkness
        Roses on White Lace
        Teenage Frankenstein
        He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)
        Billion Dollar Babies (Live 1976)
        Lock Me Up
        Simple Disobedience
        Thrill My Gorilla
        The Life and the Death of the Party
        Freedom

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      2. I don’t have Constrictor in any format! It’s one of about 3 or 4 Coopers I’m still missing. Prince of Darkness may have been a North American compilation. For me I didn’t feel like I needed Constrictor and Raise Your First because this has so many great songs on it.

        It’s nice and heavy — almost thrash like at times. Certainly “Freedom” and “Roses on White Lace” have the speed of thrash metal going for them. With that and the horror aspects, I consider this to be Alice’s “heavy” period.

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      3. I used to have both when I was a teenager but got rid of them rather stupidly in the great vinyl cull.

        I think Kane Roberts brought the Metal at that point didn’t he? I like both. There’s loads of Cooper albums I don’t have to be honest. Any time I see good vinyl copies I pick them up.

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      4. Kane Roberts brought the metal and the muscle! He was pumped at that time! He was like Hulk!

        I have a great one hour interview with he and Alice on MuchMusic back in ’87.

        Kane: “Alice has an amazing presence on stage, and sometimes he gives me these presents.”

        Yuk yuk yuk!

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      5. I don’t think so… I did see one promo video but I can’t remember which. I’ll have to youtube it!

        Would that have been after Trash? (I know he didn’t play much on that but I know the video I saw came out after it)

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      6. Kane did his first solo album at the same time as Raise Your First and Yell. He did a second solo album some time after Trash, toned down his physique so people would take him a bit more seriously.

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      7. Apparently he went to school with Vinnie Vincent, and that about ends his notability! At least he had the sense to wear the priest collar so people would want to google him 25 years later eh?

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  2. A very cool find! You are having great success with this series!!

    For the record, I disagree with the use of the internets for this series. Unless it is something you know that you REALLY want, in advance. To me, this whole series succeeds because you spent the time digging through the bins, and always find something worthwhile and interesting. And yes, this single led you to know that there is another version out there that has another song on it that you’ll also now want. So use the internet to get THAT one. But the initial search should always be the bins. At least, that’s my two cents. Which I can’t even give you for much longer since Canada is eliminating their pennies. Sigh.

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    1. Also, when I said “for the record,” I would like you to believe that the pun was intended. Even though it wasn’t. I didn’t notice it until I read it back, after posting. Sigh. I can still be a quick wit after the fact, can’t I?

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    2. What?! Are you Canucks just reverting to some sort of primitive bartering system?

      Thank you for your thoughts on this. I completely agree! I was having a think about it last night and I realised it wouldn’t work for the series… it wouldn’t be in the right spirit of things and, for just buying one single, it doesn’t work out as being worthwhile because of postage. You end up spending more than the thing’s worth just on shipping so the only way for buying online to work would be to bulk buy and I don’t want to do that because that would be cheating on the concept of the series.

      The more I think about it too… the fun of the series will be the failures as much as the successes too. Although, as you point out, I’ve done pretty well so far.

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      1. Hahaha no bartering system. Just getting rid of a (mostly) useless coin. According to the government, it costs more to make them than the value of the coin, and things will even out for the consumer and retailers, in the long run, so it’s a no-brainer. It’s something they’ve talked about for ages, just implementing it now.

        It won’t affect electronic transactions like VISA or debit. Those will stay the same. But for cash transactions, they’ll round up or down. So, for an item total that’s $1.01 or $1.02, it goes down to $1.00. If it’s $1.03 or $1.04, it goes up to $1.05.

        Mike and I were agreeing on this that alot of the nits behind cash registers in places that take cash often (like coffee shops), the ones who already never learned how to make change for you, are REALLY going to fuck things up now that they’ll be expected to learn something new. It’ll be two things they can screw up! Yippee!

        As for your single series, you’ve done incredibly well for yourself! It is doing fine just as it is, I wouldn’t change a thing. I say stick to the bins. And I say that agreeing with you on the cost of shipping from online orders, but also as a guy who lives in a town where there really is only the one (not good at all) place to go through bins. Get out there and support those brick & mortars with your hard-earned £2!!

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