As Alice Cooper Week reaches a suitably glorious finale on rushonrock we reveal exactly why we’ve been making such a fuss over a golf-mad loon in his early 60s!
Welcome 2 My Nightmare is the Coop’s best record in years and ahead of its Monday release we take a track-by-track look at the must-buy album of 2011.
1. I Am Made Of You
A lively and haunting opening track with a typical Cooper refrain but a very modern production. Alice’s vocal is filtered through a voicebox to give it a clean yet eerie sound. Sets things up very nicely indeed.
Like a signature anthem from the Rocky Horror Picture Show this will surely be a staple of the new live show with its screeching chorus and wicked riff. Buckcherry’s Keith Nelson adds a sleazy edge to a super song.
3. The Nightmare Returns
Red hot percussion underpins this 75-second interlude harking back to the classic Welcome To My Nightmare record. Short but sweet.
4. A Runaway Train
The original Alice Cooper Band make their first appearance on W2MN and Vince Gill struts his six-stringed stuff on lead guitar. It’s the last call for the Nightmare Express and by now it’s clear this is first class stuff.
5. Last Man On Earth
One of the unexpected highlights of a fabulously diverse album as Alice calls on pals David Streng and Piggy from Rob Zombie’s band to deliver a low-fi honky tonk bar room classic. Addictive (and the Coop would know all about that) little ditty replete with violin!
6. The Congregation
Another sharp change in direction as the acoustic guitar and Hammond organ intro cede to a Julian Lennon-esque vocal. This is a perfect Cooper pop song featuring Rob Zombie and 80s hair metal god Kip Winger. One of the finest tunes here.
7. I’ll Bite Your Face Off
The lead single from the shock rocker’s finest record in years and once again he hooks up with the original Alice Cooper Band line-up to conjure a slice of grizzly garage rock. You’ll be humming the low key bluesy riff all day and the vocal is about as good as it gets.
8. Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever
Guitar hero John 5 (Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson) joins the Coop for this pop metal triumph mixing an hilarious lead vocal with some zany chanting. Imagine the Bee Gees on an acid trip – with some serious shredding to boot – and you get the idea.
9. Ghouls Gone Wild
Another all-star collaboration combines Alice’s sense of 70s fun with a sound familiar to fans of his most recent material. Humalong chorus but possibly the weakest of the tunes here. Nice psychedelic guitar solo though!
10. Something To Remember Me By
Steve Hunter – central to so many definitive and classic Cooper records – brings his unique guitar style to a typically heartfelt Alice ballad. Another brave change in direction and pace but it works well. Hunter does, however, steal the show in an understated and overwhelming manner.
11. When Hell Comes Home
Hunter’s back with the original Alice Cooper Band on the thoroughly frightening and sinister When Hell Comes Home. This, more than any other song on the album, is what the king of shock rock is – and always was – all about.
12. What Baby Wants
One of the secrets of W2MN’s success is the variation of styles and super slick production. Here the Coop combines to thrilling effect with pop princess Ke$ha to give Lady GaGa a run for her money and deliver his best stab at chart-busting glory since Poison.
13. I Gotta Get Outta Here
The Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood is the latest big name to join the party and this upbeat number sounds like Tom Petty playing Alice Cooper – in a good way. Americana meets shock rock with a singalong chorus certain to appeal to listeners of Radio Two (Alice is one of them).
14. The Underture
Featuring Welcome To My Nightmare driving force Dick Wagner and setting a suitably retro seal on an incredibly modern record this instrumental tour de force will have Alice fans old and new waving the nearest lighter in delight. A pompous, poignant and powerful instrumental.
Overall verdict: Who would have guessed that what appeared to be an oddly-timed opportunity to cash in on one of the greatest rock brands of all time would turn out to be one of the finest albums of 2011? In terms of pure commercial appeal this is the Coop’s finest work since 1989’s Trash but it marries the production values of that chart-busting record with the raw garage rock of his early and later work. So good it’s tempting to suggest Alice should bow out on a career high…but then nobody wants to see that just yet. Simon Rushworth
rushonrock rated: 10/10 Welcome 2 Perfection