Billion Dollar Babies-Battle Axe (reissue)

Reviewed: January, 2021
Released: 2020,
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: JP

I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to enjoy and review many of the cool box-sets that Cherry Red / HNE Records have been issuing as part of various reissue campaigns.  Most of them are reissues and more often than not I own or have heard the majority of the material in this box-sets.  Not this time.  This is is all new to me, which makes it extra special.

Old rockers of a certain vintage may recall that in the beginning Alice Cooper was a band, more than an individual.  After an amazing run of seven successful albums across five years (‘69-‘73), the band burned out, imploded and sort of faded away.  In 1975, Vincent Furnier (aka Alice Cooper, the character) walked off into the sunset with the name and a 40+ year solo career.  What happened to the other guys in the band?   In 1977, they became the Billion Dollar Babies.

I knew this existed but I had never heard it.  I have never seen this on vinyl or cassette.  I was curious but over time my thoughts of this band drifted away.  When I received this it was a little shock and pleasant surprise, after all these decades I could get to hear this!   Not only that there is a ton of bonus stuff!

Four of the five previous members of the Alice Cooper band became the Billion Dollar Babies, named of course after the sixth Alice Cooper band album in 1973.  The debut album was called Battle Axe and…nobody really noticed.  Despite being to a major label the band didn’t last long, with the band only performing a handful of concerts. This three wallet set has the one and only album, a album of rare and unreleased demos and a live album! The set comes with a 12-page, full colour booklet with liner notes and part of an interview with Michael Bruce.

The material in this set has never really been released since 1977. There was a few bootlegs floating around and a company released a similar, but unauthorized, version of this three CD set back in 2001, but I’ll admit it escaped my attention. Now, finally we have the real deal, authorized and legitimate.

The album, as one might expect sounds very much like 70’s Alice Cooper, how could it not? And was, in fact, originally intended to be an Alice Cooper album.  When Alice Cooper’s solo album, WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE was a big hit, the band issued this anyway.  BATTLE AXE is 12 tracks of straight-up classic 70’s Hard Rock!  With the right push a couple of these songs could have, should have been hits.  The album of demos is really for the die-hard enthusiasts but interesting nonetheless.  There are quite a few songs that never made it onto the debut album ,which increases the vale of this CD even more.

The live album, simply entitled LIVE is the first concert the band ever did. It was recorded in flint, Michigan, July 6th, 1977. It would have been pretty neat to see that show, legend has it they only did four or five concerts before it fell apart.  The CD is a compact 10 track, 50 minute album.   Thankfully the band didn’t rely on past glories and most of it is the new (at the time) material.  There is an Alice Cooper medley, I mean, they did have to acknowledge their past and they end the gig with a version of the name-sake song.  There is a guitar solo section called ‘Battle Axe Suite:Ego Mania’  which is fun as well.  Overall it is a quite punchy show with surprisingly good sound quality.

I’m so pleased this piece of rock history has been preserved and brought to the fore.  Now new generations can explore the vaults, the older fans who bought this the first time can wallow in some nostalgia, and as I said earlier, guys like me who knew about it but never heard it can enjoy this little slice of rock history.


Track List:

DISC ONE:

BATTLE AXE (1977)

TOO YOUNG
SHINE YOUR LOVE
I MISS YOU
WASN’T I THE ONE
LOVE IS RATHER BLIND
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL RADIO
DANCE WITH ME
ROCK ME SLOWLY
EGO MANIA
BATTLE AXE
(SUDDEN DEATH)
WINNER
DISC TWO:

BATTLE AXE DEMOS

SHINE YOUR LOVE
MISS YOU
WASN’T I THE ONE
DANCE WITH ME
WANT TO GO HOME
LOVE IS RATHER BLIND
ROCK ME SLOWLY
BATTLE AXE / SUDDEN DEATH / WINNER
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL PRISON
RUNAWAY INST.
I DON’T KNOW BABE
WALLOW THROUGH THIS MADNESS
ONLY ONE WILL WALK AWAY
HIGH HEELS HOLLYWOOD
DISC THREE:

LIVE:  FIRST EVER SHOW FLINT, MICHIGAN, USA, 6TH JULY 1977

I MISS YOU
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL RADIO
LOVE IS RATHER BLIND
ROCK ME SLOWLY
ALICE COOPER MEDLEY: NO MORE MR. NICE GUY / ELECTED / SCHOOL’S OUT
BATTLE AXE SUITE: EGO MANIA
BATTLE AXE
NIGHTS IN CRACKED LEATHER / SUDDEN DEATH / WINNER
TOO YOUNG
BILLION DOLLAR BABIES


www.cherryred.co.uk/product/billion-dollar-babies-battle-axe-complete-edition-3cd/

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