Chris Penn can’t stop talking about Alice Cooper, which is not meant as a slight. As the co-owner of Good Records, he’s still talking about the time the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper group reunited Oct. 6, 2015, at the store.
A year after the show, a two-song 7-inch called Live from the Astroturf came out on Black Friday. This year, the whole eight-song set, also called Live from the Astroturf, will finally be available on 12-inch vinyl on Black Friday, Nov. 23.
The response to the 7-inch was strong on a day that is normally not as big as Record Store Day is in April.
“It basically sold out on the day,” Penn says only a few feet away from the pink AstroTurf stage where the reunion happened. “We did 2,500 of the 7-inch and 200 Good Records edition, so 2,700 total. It retailed in stores around $15 and the average price you can find it for [now] is $60.”
Nationally, 3,000 copies of the 12-inch have been made while an additional 1,000 have been made just for Good Records. The response already has been even better than the 7-inch.
“We’ve already sold out preorders for the stores,” Penn says.
For the 7-inch, Penn printed up the vinyl on a few different colors. But for the 12-inch, there will be more.
“This time, I went even crazier,” he says. “For the national edition, there’s 12 different colors and the Good Records edition, there’s three different colors that aren’t in the national. So there’s 15 colors together. It’s gonna drive fans crazy, like myself.”
Penn has produced something he would want, even if he didn’t get the Alice Cooper group to reunite.
“I look at it as a total love letter to my favorite band,” he says. “You listen to a band all of your life, and all of a sudden, you’re able to be kind of their A&R guy and their record label. It’s like, ‘Well, what would I want to buy?’ So I know what I would want to see and I know their past releases very well.”
The Live from the Astroturf 7-inch won a prestigious Alex award for best 45 single package. The 12-inch could very well find the similar fate.
There are a lot of Easter eggs in the double-gatefold jacket for the 12-inch. It will have trading cards, just like the classic Billion Dollar Babies LP did back in the ’70s. The inside of the record sleeve will have pink AstroTurf along with a booklet with pictures, a short handwritten note from Alice Cooper and an essay written by Dennis Dunaway. The records were pressed at Gotta Groove in Cleveland while the jackets were made at Imprint Indie Printing in Florida.
The album clocks in less than 40 minutes, with in-between song banter. Included are “Caught in a Dream,” “Be My Lover,” “I'm Eighteen,” “Is It My Body,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Under My Wheels,” “School's Out” and “Elected.” It documents what it was like to be in the room.
“I even have my stupid Texas drawl introduction,” Penn jokes.
After the 7-inch came out, the original Alice Cooper group did a couple of reunion sets in Nashville, which Penn got to see. Penn saw Tripping Daisy reunite at Homegrown right before those sets, so he got a double dose of pure joy in a short amount of time.
“It was kind of mind-blowing to see my two favorite bands reunite in the same weekend,” Penn says.
The original Alice Cooper group reunited again in November 2017 in the U.K. Penn got to see this in person, and he was even recognized as the guy who reunited the band. An accidental celebrity now, he notices the 7-inch in the hands of fans at Alice Cooper meet-and-greets whenever the Cooper show comes to town.
The Alice Cooper camp is a big thing, and working with them was a healthy sort of situation for Penn.
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“They’ve got so many moving parts to their defense,” he says. “They’ve got a live album, a studio album, TV appearances, Alice doing Jesus Christ Superstar. For them, in the scheme of things, a recording of an in-store at a little record store in Dallas, it’s not their biggest priority, but they’ve been real gracious in hearing me out. With my enthusiasm, they know I’m going to do it justice.”
An advance listening party of the album will be 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cedars location. And with all the accolades and all the work putting the music on vinyl, Penn remains an Alice Cooper superfan.
“It changed everything,” Penn says. “I got to do the record [and] become friends with those guys. Hopefully something good will come out of this and they’ll do more shows.”
Hear Live from the Astroturf at the Alamo Drafthouse Cedars on Thursday, Nov. 8.