Category Archives: Alice Cooper

The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years [Album Review]

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The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2011, Capitol Records
Originally Released: 1988, Capitol Records
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1. “Under My Wheels” – Alice Cooper w/ Guns N’ Roses
2. “Bathroom Wall” – Faster Pussycat
3. “Cradle to the Grave” – Motörhead
4. “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” – Armored Saint
5. “Born to Be Wild” – Lizzy Borden
6. “In My Darkest Hour” – Megadeth
7. “Prophecy” – Queensrÿche
8. “The Brave” – Metal Church
9. “Foaming at the Mouth” – Rigor Mortis
10. “Colleen” – Seduce

Any metal-head worth their weight in steel is well aware of this documentary that was released in 1988. It’s a truly fascinating look at life as rocker in the 1980s. For better or worse, warts and all, it absolutely captures a time and a vibe & scene that can never truly be replicated no matter how “retro” a band may act.

As it stands, the soundtrack to The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is a solid compilation. Sure, bands like Seduce and Rigor Mortis didn’t stand the test of time but when it comes to the ’80s metal scene, you can’t really argue against the inclusion of bands like Motorhead, Lizzy Borden, Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Guns N’ Roses, Metal Church or even Faster Pussycat. It was all metal one way or another.

The documentary itself was actually what turned me on to Megadeth as they performed “In My Darkest Hour” in the film and it certainly made an impression on me.

The lack of Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Poison, KISS or W.A.S.P. is a bit odd given how their stature and appearances in the documentary but the soundtrack isn’t meant to be all encompassing. If it was, we’d be putting up with having to listen to the likes of London, Tuff and Odin, too. A few tracks either start or end with audio clips from the film.

We could argue for hours over who truly deserves to be included on a compilation of ’80s metal but this soundtrack is just a taste of what that era had to offer and is meant to tie in most closely with bands featured in the documentary. Keep that in mind and what you’ve got is a good collection of ’80s rock & metal that will fit right in with your retro denim vest.

Highlights: “Under My Wheels”, “Bathroom Wall”, “Born to Be Wild”, “In My Darkest Hour”, “Prophecy”

Alice Cooper – Welcome to My Nightmare [Review]

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Alice Cooper – Welcome to My Nightmare
1975, Atlantic Records

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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”
9. “Steven”
10. “The Awakening”
11. “Escape”

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!

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Alice Cooper – The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper [Review]

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Alice Cooper – The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper
1999, Rhino Records

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Disc 1
“Don’t Blow Your Mind” – The Spiders (1966) – 2:36
“Hitch Hike” – The Spiders (1965) – 2:01
“Why Don’t You Love Me” – The Spiders (1965) – 1:57
“Lay Down And Die, Goodbye” (Original Version) – The Nazz (1967) – 2:07
“Nobody Likes Me” – (demo version – 1968) – 3:23
“Levity Ball” – (studio version – 1968) – 4:45
“Reflected” – (Pretties for You – 1969) – 3:14
“Mr. and Misdemeanor” – (Easy Action – 1970) – 3:00
“Refrigerator Heaven” – (Easy Action – 1970) – 1:54
“Caught in a Dream” – (single version – 1971) – 2:55
“I’m Eighteen” – (Love It to Death – 1971) – 2:58
“Is It My Body?” – (Love It to Death – 1971) – 2:39
“Ballad of Dwight Fry” – (Love It to Death – 1971) – 6:34
“Under My Wheels” – (Killer – 1971) – 2:47
“Be My Lover” – (Killer – 1971) – 3:21
“Desperado” – (Killer – 1971) – 3:29
“Dead Babies” – (Killer – 1971) – 5:42
“Killer” – (Killer – 1971) – 7:05
“Call It Evil” – (demo – 1971) – 3:28
“Gutter Cat Vs. The Jets” – (School’s Out – 1972) – 4:39
“School’s Out” – (single version – 1972) – 3:31

Disc 3

“It’s Hot Tonight” – (Lace and Whiskey – 1977) – 3:21
“You and Me” – (single version – 1977) – 3:25
“I Miss You” – (Billion Dollar Babies – Battle Axe – 1977) – 3:31
“No Time for Tears” – (Sextette film outtake – 1977) – 2:59
“Because (featuring The Bee Gees)” – (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band film – 1978) – 2:45
“From the Inside” – (single version – 1979) – 3:30
“How You Gonna See Me Now” – (From the Inside – 1978) – 3:53
“Serious” – (From the Inside – 1978) – 2:41
“No Tricks” – (single B-side – 1978) – 4:15
“Road Rats” – (Roadie film – 1980) – 2:43
“Clones (We’re All)” – (single version – 1980) – 2:51
“Pain” – (Flush the Fashion – 1980) – 4:10
“Who Do You Think We Are” – (single version – 1981) – 3:05
“Look at You Over There, Ripping The Sawdust From My Teddybear” – (demo – 1981) – 3:18
“For Britain Only” – (UK-only single – 1982) – 3:02
“I Am the Future” – (single version – 1982) – 3:45
“Tag, You’re It” – (Zipper Catches Skin – 1982) – 2:52
“Former Lee Warmer” – (DaDa – 1983) – 4:07
“I Love America” – (DaDa – 1983) – 3:47
“Identity Crisis” – (Monster Dog film – 1984) – 2:50
“See Me in the Mirror” – (Monster Dog film – 1984) – 3:12
“Hard Rock Summer” – (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives film – 1986) – 2:30

Disc 2
“Hello Hooray” – (Billion Dollar Babies – 1973) – 4:15
“Elected” – (single version – 1973) – 3:43
“Billion Dollar Babies” – (Billion Dollar Babies – 1973) – 3:39
“No More Mr. Nice Guy” – (Billion Dollar Babies – 1973) – 3:07
“I Love the Dead” – (Billion Dollar Babies – 1973) – 5:07
“Slick Black Limousine” – (Flexi-disc from New Musical Express – 1973) – 4:27
“Respect for the Sleepers” – (demo – 1973) – 3:48
“Muscle of Love” – (Muscle of Love – 1973) – 3:45
“Teenage Lament ’74” – (Muscle of Love – 1973) – 3:52
“Working Up a Sweat” – (Muscle of Love – 1973) – 3:31
“Man with the Golden Gun” – (Muscle of Love – 1973) – 3:13
“I’m Flash” – (Flash Fearless Versus The Zorg Women – 1975) – 2:47
“Space Pirates” – (Flash Fearless Versus The Zorg Women – 1975) – 3:30
“Welcome to My Nightmare” – (single version – 1975) – 2:54
“Only Women Bleed” – (single version – 1975) – 3:17
“Cold Ethyl” – (Welcome to My Nightmare – 1975) – 2:54
“Department of Youth” – (Welcome to My Nightmare – 1975) – 3:17
“Escape” – (Welcome to My Nightmare – 1975) – 3:14
“I Never Cry” – (Alice Cooper Goes to Hell – 1976) – 3:43
“Go to Hell” – (Alice Cooper Goes to Hell – 1976) – 5:11

Disc 4


“He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” – (Demo – 1986) – 3:20
“He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” – (Movie Mix) (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives film – 1986) – 3:44
“Teenage Frankenstein” – (Constrictor – 1986) – 3:32
“Freedom” – (Raise Your Fist and Yell – 1987) – 4:04
“Prince of Darkness” – (Raise Your Fist and Yell – 1987) – 5:09
“Under My Wheels” – (The Decline of Western Civilization II film – 1988) – 3:10
“I Got a Line On You” – (Iron Eagle II film – 1988) – 2:59
“Poison” – (Trash – 1989) – 4:27
“Trash” – (Trash – 1989) – 3:58
“Only My Heart Talkin” – (Trash – 1989) – 4:44
“Hey Stoopid” – (Single Version from Hey Stoopid – 1991) – 4:15
“Feed My Frankenstein” – (Hey Stoopid – 1991) – 4:42
“Fire” – (single b-side – 1991) – 3:00
“Lost in America” – (The Last Temptation – 1994) – 3:54
“It’s Me” – (The Last Temptation – 1994) – 4:40
“Hands of Death” (Spookshow 2000 Mix) – with Rob Zombie – (Remix of the version on “Songs in the Key of X” soundtrack – 1996) – 3:53
“Is Anyone Home?” – (A Fistful of Alice – 1997) – 4:10
“Stolen Prayer” – (The Last Temptation – 1994) – 5:35

As you can see by the wall of text (which hopefully was formatted and will post correctly) devoted to 81 songs spread out over 4 discs and, wow, this is what a box set should be. I’ve seen some labels use the box set as an excuse to release a series of albums together in their entirety or to basically do a giant-size greatest hits but The Life and Crimes… really hit the nail on the head. Sure, you get the greatest hits, the best of, the fan favorites but it’s the number of oddities and rarities that makes this a box set worth owning.

Not a single album goes untouched and this box set starts at the very beginning back when the original Alice Cooper group started out as The Spiders and then The Nazz and goes right up to 1997 when Alice released “Is Anyone Home?” as a new studio track on his live A Fistful of Alice album. Then you’ve got demos, singles, songs from soundtracks (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club BandMonster DogFriday the 13th Part VI!), remixes, B-sides, the previously UK-exclusive “For Britain Only”, etc. This one really has it all for the Alice Cooper fan!

The collection here features some of Alice’s best work and others would argue some of his worst (like his weird stuff from the late to mid ’80s). All told, warts and all, this is an excellent overview of Alice Cooper’s career.

For me, this was a great introduction to much of Alice Cooper’s catalog. Unfortunately, over time, I lost the actual box and booklet that came with the set. Oh well, at least I still have all of the CDs. I don’t think the price has dropped much over the years on this one. I think it was about $60 when it was first released but even if you’re paying $40-50 today, this is a worthy purchase for Alice fans.

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Alice Cooper – Zipper Catches Skin [Review]

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Alice Cooper – Zipper Catches Skin
1982, Warner Bros. Records

1. “Zorro’s Ascent”
2. “Make That Money (Scrooge’s Song)”
3. “I Am The Future”
4. “No Baloney Homosapiens”
5. “Adaptable (Anything for You)”
6. “I Like Girls”
7. “Remarkably Insincere”
8. “Tag, You’re It”
9. “I Better Be Good”
10. “I’m Alive (That Was the Day My Dead Pet Returned to Save My Life)”

Musicians:
Alice Cooper – Vocals, Synthesizer
Dick Wagner – Guitar
John Nitzinger – Guitar
Mike Pinera – Guitar
Billy Steele – Guitar
Erik Scott – Bass
Jan Uvena – Drums, Percussion
Duane Hitchings – Synthesizer, Guitar

Produced by Alice Cooper & Erik Scott

Another “lost” album from Alice. “Lost” as in he doesn’t remember writing or recording it due to all of the heavy drinking he was doing at the time. Alice continues to try to find his footing in a world where new wave and punk were driving musical forces and adapts his music accordingly.

That oddball Alice Cooper humor is at least back with this album. You can only imagine how silly some of these songs are by the titles alone: “Remarkably Insincere”, “Zorro’s Ascent” (a tune that a lot of people seem to like but it’s complete filler to my ears), “I Like Girls”, “No Baloney Homosapiens” and the one that sounds the most like a Weird Al Yankovic song, in terms of song title and music —  “I’m Alive (That Was the Day My Dead Pet Returned to Save My Life)”.

This album is probably just as good/just as bad as Special Forces with “I Am the Future” being my favorite track here. That song seems to combine Alice’s ’70s soft rock ballad style with synthesizers into a somewhat haunting tune that reminds me of music from Dawn of the Dead or The Warriors. This song made it’s way onto a movie soundtrack of its own — Class of 1984.

The other standouts are “Make That Money” (which features some nice guitar work), “No Baloney Homosapiens” (which is about aliens coming to earth) and the slasher movie-inspired “Tag, You’re It”.

A fairly forgettable effort all around though. Fortunately, Alice would begin to get back on track creatively with his next release, 1983’s creepy DaDa.

Highlights: “Make That Money (Scrooge’s Song)”, “I Am the Future”, “No Baloney Homosapiens”, “Remarkably Insincere”, “Tag, You’re It”

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Alice Cooper – Special Forces [Review]

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Alice Cooper – Special Forces
1981, Warner Bros. Records

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1. “Who Do You Think We Are”
2. “Seven and Seven Is”
3. “Prettiest Cop On The Block”
4. “Don’t Talk Old To Me”
5.” Generation Landslide ’81 (live)”
6. “Skeletons In The Closet”
7. “You Want It, You Got It”
8. “You Look Good In Rags”
9. “You’re A Movie”
10. “Vicious Rumors”

Musicians:
Alice Cooper – Lead Vocals
Danny Johnson – Guitar
Mike Pinera – Guitar
Erik Scott – Bass
Craig Kampf – Drums
Duane Hitchings – Keyboards

Producer: Richard Podolor

Another low spot for Alice, yet probably a touch above Flush the Fashion. This was during Alice’s infamous heavy drinking “blackout” period. Special Forces is the first of three consecutive albums in which, to this day, Alice says he does not remember writing, recording or touring for. That’s pretty sad. It’s also unfortunate that Alice can’t give us any insight in regards to his thoughts and motivations during this time.

Another cover (Love’s “Seven and Seven Is), which some people seem to like, but I don’t. Then there’s the supposed “live” updated version of Billion Dollar Babies‘ “Generation Landslide”. Sounds pretty dead and pointless to me. “Skeletons in the Closet” is quite the guilty pleasure. It’s kinda got a R&B/rock/pop vibe to it and was the working title for this album. “You Want It, You Got It” and “You’re a Movie” still see Alice in his new wave synth-heavy mode, but I dig ’em, especially “You Want It, You Got It”. “You Look Good in Rags” is another pretty straight-forward rocker that makes me wish Alice tossed his fans a few more of these during the early ’80s.

I like six of the ten songs here, so I suppose I can’t say this is a bad album but they are more like six decent songs. Not six great songs, so I wouldn’t call Special Forces a career highlight for Alice.

Highlights: “Who Do You Think We Are”, “Don’t Talk Old to Me”, “You Want It, You Got It”, “Skeletons in the Closet”, “You Look Good in Rags”, “You’re a Movie”

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Alice Cooper – Flush the Fashion [Review]

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Alice Cooper – Flush the Fashion
1980, Warner Bros. Records

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1. “Talk Talk” (Sean Bonniwell)
2. “Clones (We’re All)” (David Carron)
3. “Pain”
4. “Leather Boots” (Geoff Westen)
5. “Aspirin Damage”
6. “Nuclear Infected” – 2:14
7. “Grim Facts” – 3:24
8. “Model Citizen” – 2:39
9. “Dance Yourself to Death”
10. “Headlines”

Musicians:
Alice Cooper – Lead Vocals
Davey Johnstone – Guitar
Fred Mandel – Guitar, Keyboards
John Cooker Lopresti – Bass
Dennis Conway – Drums

Producer: Roy Thomas Baker

Flush the Fashion is the beginning of Alice’s new wave-inspired era, which would run for a few more albums. If new wave is the way Alice wanted to go, it only makes seems that he hooked up with Roy Thomas Baker for this album. Roy had already been having success in the genre with new wave icons The Cars. Too bad Ric Ocasek didn’t sit down and co-write some songs with Alice. While Lace and Whiskey and From the Inside are quirky classics in their own right, I can’t really say the same for Flush the Fashion.

Three of the songs here weren’t even written by Alice. “Talk Talk” was originally performed by ’60s garage rock band The Music Machine. I don’t mind this song at all but I think it’s an odd way to open the album. “Clones” and “Leather Boots” used outside writers and they are the two most “new wave” sounding tracks on the whole album. “Leather Boots” is not good at all, sounds like something Squeeze would’ve recorded, but “Clones” is actually enjoyable if you don’t mind new wave music and it is the most well-known song of the bunch.

There are two other tracks here that I like. “Pain” seems like an attempt to do something that might have belonged on Welcome to My Nightmare but it comes across more as a sign of what’s to come on 1983’s DaDa. The final track that I would consider to be of any value is “Grim Facts”. It’s the most straight-forward rocker out of the bunch and it’s a breath of fresh air on this album.

One thing about Alice Cooper is that he’s always willing to change with the times. While most of his songs generally have fallen under the broad genre of “rock”, he’s not afraid to get in there and experiment with different styles. While you can say that his willingness to try disco, soft rock and new wave music in the late 1970s/early 1980s hurt his career, it still produced a number of classic tunes and more than handful of guilty pleasures.

So, yes, Flush the Fashion delivers a few tracks worth seeking out but the album as a whole is Alice’s first dud as a solo artist. Even his new image falls flat as during the time of this album/tour he looked something like an old drag queen or schoolmarm.

Highlights: “Talk Talk”, “Clones (We’re All)”, “Pain”, “Grim Facts”

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Alice Cooper – From the Inside [Review]

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Alice Cooper – From the Inside
1978, Warner Bros. Records
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1. “From the Inside”
2. “Wish I Were Born in Beverly Hills”
3. “The Quiet Room”
4. “Nurse Rozetta”
6. “Millie and Billie”
7. “Serious”
8. “How You Gonna See Me Now”
9. “For Veronica’s Sake”
10. “Jackknife Johnny”
11. “Inmates (We’re All Crazy)”

Producer: David Foster

Though longtime producer Bob Ezrin and guitarist Steve Hunter are not involved in this album, Alice was able to retain the services of guitarist & songwriting partner Dick Wagner in addition to enlisting the aid of Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and a young Steve Lukather. Frequent Elton John collaborator Bernie Taupin co-wrote all lyrics with Alice. It’s no secret that this album was inspired by Alice’s time spent in the hospital while trying to become sober and that makes songs like “The Quiet Room” all the more haunting and the open and honest “How You Gonna See Me Now” all the more tender.

The previous album, Lace and Whiskey, was a bit out there for Alice, but I think From the Inside brings him a step closer to Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, at least. Still, some songs here are a sign of the times. “From the Inside” is a funky disco rock number while “How You Gonna See Me Now” is a soft rock ballad that fits right alongside “You and Me”. “Millie and Billie” is a typical late-1970s easy listening duet between Alice Cooper and a female singer.

There’s a fair number of rockers this time around though: “Nurse Rozetta” (possibly one of the sleaziest and most sexually-charged songs Alice has ever recorded), “Wish I Were Born in Beverly Hills”, “Serious” and “For Veronica’s Sake”. The album ends on a mellow note with the ballad “Jackknife Johnny” and epically produced “Inmates (We’re All Crazy)”, which has a weird dreamy vibe to it that would’ve made it perfect for a musical or Lace and Whiskey.

“How You Gonna See Me Now” and “The Quiet Room” are two of my favorite Alice songs and there’s another of other enjoyable tracks here. That makes From the Inside a minor classic in my eyes.

Highlights: “From the Inside”, “The Quiet Room”, “Nurse Rozetta”, “Serious”, “How You Gonna See Me Now”

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Alice Cooper – Lace and Whiskey [Review]

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Alice Cooper – Lace and Whiskey
1977, Warner Bros. Records
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1. “It’s Hot Tonight”
2. “Lace and Whiskey”
3. “Road Rats”
4. “Damned If You Do”
5. “You and Me”
6. “King of the Silver Screen”
7. “Ubangi Stomp”
8. “(No More) Love at Your Convenience”
9. “I Never Wrote Those Songs”
10. “My God”

Producer: Bob Ezrin

This is one of those “Alice has started drinking too much” albums that I always assumed would be incredibly cheesy and spotty without ever listening to it fully. I already knew of “It’s Hot Tonight”, “You and Me” and “Road Rats” due to their inclusion on the Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper box set. “Road Rats” I never cared for (though the version on that box set is a remixed 1980 version), but I’ve always loved “It’s Hot Tonight and “You and Me”.

Too many session players to list for this album (which was  but just know that leading the way is Alice, Bob Ezrin and guitarists Dick Wagner & Steve Hunter.

Lace and Whiskey is yet another semi-concept album with Alice debuting a brand-new character in the form of private investigator Maurice Escargot. While the whole thing comes off as very cheesy (and given that this album was inspired by showtunes and 1940s/1950s music, I’m sure that’s the point), I wouldn’t say it’s a spotty record. There’s a few duds like “Road Rats”, “King of the Silver Screen” & “Ubangi Stomp” but the rest is excellent, even if you might be able to consider most of them guilty pleasures.

“It’s Hot Tonight” is about nothing more than sex. I’m completely okay with that. “Lace and Whiskey” really hammers home the theme of being a private eye with a film noir style. A great vibe that Alice would similarly capture on the song “Dirty Diamonds” years later.

“You and Me” is Alice Cooper doing an easy listening ballad. Did the demon in the bottle make him do it or were Alice and producer Bob Ezrin looking for a big-time radio hit? Regardless, the song found itself charting at #9 on the Billboard charts as a single and the legacy continues because, as someone who used to work a day shift at Walgreens just a few years ago, I can tell you this song was played nearly every day before noon. It’s a great song but in the long run it probably did more damage than good as far as Cooper’s fanbase was concerned.

“(No More) Love at Your Convenience” is quite possibly my favorite track from this album. Such a guilty pleasure. Alice goes disco! “I Never Wrote Those Songs” is another easy listening ballad (complete with saxophone solo), but has a clever theme to it. “My God” in another fantastic piece that features a church organ.

Lace and Whiskey is definitely an oddball Alice album. He really went outside the box with this one and dropped the shock rock gimmick, but it’s a good effort for the most part and worth seeking out.

Highlights: “It’s Hot Tonight”, “Lace and Whiskey”, “You and Me”, “(No More) Love at Your Convenience”, “I Never Wrote Those Songs”, “My God”

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Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare

Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare [Classic Rock Fan Pack Exclusive Limited Edition] (2011, Universal Music Enterprises/Spinefarm Records UK/Nightmare Inc.)

1. “I Am Made Of You”
2. “Caffeine”
3. “The Nightmare Returns”
4. “A Runaway Train”
5. “Last Man On Earth”
6. “The Congregation”
7. “I’ll Bite Your Face Off”
8. “Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever”
9. “Ghouls Gone Wild”
10. “Something To Remember Me By”
11. “When Hell Comes Home”
12. “What Baby Wants”
13. “I Gotta Get Outta Here”
14. “The Underture”
Bonus Tracks:
15. “Under The Bed”
16. “Poison” (Live at Download Festival)

Band:
Alice Cooper – Vocals
Steve Hunter – Guitar
Damon Johnson – Guitar
Tommy Henriksen – Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Chuck Garric – Bass
Glen Sobel – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Michael Bruce – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Dennis Dunaway – Bass, Backing Vocals
Neal Smith – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Ke$ha – Vocals
Dick Wagner, John 5, Keith Nelson, Tommy Denander, Vince Gill, Keri Kelli, Patterson Hood, Pat Buchanan – Guitar
Piggy D, David Spreng, Jimmie Lee Sloas – Bass
Jimmy DeGrasso, Scott Williamson – Drums
Rob Zombie, Kip Winger – Backing Vocals

Welcome 2 My Nightmare is a reunion for all different eras of Alice Cooper. Take a look at the credits! The surviving members of the original group are here (Bruce, Dunaway & Smith) and they have some co-writing credits too, the original Nightmare era guitar duo of Steve Hunter (back in the band full-time) and Dick Wagner are present, more recent Alice gunslingers Kerri Kelli and Damon Johnson (who recently left and has been replaced by Orianthi of all people!), Jimmy DeGrasso, Piggy D (who worked with Alice on “Keepin’ Halloween Alive”), Kip Winger sings backing vocals, Desmond Child co-wrote “I Am Made of You” and Bob Ezrin is producing!

I think pretty much all eras of Alice are represented! I’m surprised Alice didn’t bring back Eric Singer, Derek Sherinian, Ryan Roxie, Eric Dover, Kane Roberts and Jason Hook! In addition to all of those people, Rob Zombie, Vince Gill, John 5 and Ke$ha also perform.

All of this star-power and buzz over doing a sequel to Welcome To My Nightmare has worked as the album sold roughly 21,ooo copies and debuted at #22 on the Billboard charts. This is Alice’s best chart debut since Trash.

Before I get into the music, I want to say that this Alice Cooper Fan Pack from Classic Rock magazine is just outstanding. I had ordered the Fan Pack for Whitesnake’s Forevermore and while that was a good package, this is even better. Not only do you get the album (in what I guess what is the standard hardcover booklet format for these Fan Packs) but there’s a School’s Out pin, Alice Cooper face paint, Alice cut-out face mask, 2 two-sided posters and finally the 132 page magazine called Classic Rock Presents Alice Cooper.

With that out of the way, I will agree that this album is a “return to form” in that it has returned Alice to his old school schizophrenic ways. After dabbling in industrial metal and garage rock for the last decade, Alice is back to genre-hopping. Auto-tune, Rolling Stones, disco, pop-rock, surfer music, symphonies, Tom Petty, rag-time… It all has a home on this album.

The good/bad thing about Alice is that he’s never been afraid to throw his blood-stained top hat in to practically any genre of music. Case in point, after starting off with the piano from “Steven”, “I Am Made of You” is a ballad complete with vocals done in auto-tune and some electronic beats in the background and a piano. I did not like it when I first heard it, but the song has grown on me and is now one of my favorite tracks here. Next, “Caffeine” kicks in with some rowdy rock ‘n’ roll. My first thought when hearing it was that it sounded like Velvet Revolver. Well, I wasn’t too far off because song was co-written by Buckcherry’s Keith Nelson. This and “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” (with its Stonesy vibe) are the most straight forward rockers of the bunch. “The Nightmare Returns” is a short instrumental still incorporating parts of “Steven”.

“The Congregation” is a pretty good Beatles-inspired number that sounds like a track from The Last Temptation but it took me a few listens to get in to. And hey, what album would be complete without that classic Alice ballad? Here that song is “Something To Remember Me By”, a great companion to those late ’70s ballads of his. The next highlight on this album for me is “What Baby Wants”. A true guilty pleasure for sure, it’s a pop/rock song featuring Ke$ha. The final two standouts is the Tom Petty-ish “I Gotta Get Outta Here” and the Fan Pack exclusive “Under The Bed”, a mid-tempo ballad that could’ve come from the Hey Stoopid era.

So, like I said, there is good and bad when Alice attempt to cover so many genres. When he succeeds, he really succeeds. When he fails… yuck. With Vince Gill on guitar, the country-rocker “A Runaway Train” can’t go away fast enough but I can kinda here old school Alice in it. Immediately following is the vaudevillian rag-time of “Last Man on Earth”. Just awful but I can’t decide if it’s worse than “When Hell Comes Home” (which is garnering rave reviews for featuring all the surviving members of the original group).

As for “Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever”, that’s just goofy fun. Something you might hear from Alice in the early ’80s. Basically filler as is the surf rock of “Ghouls Gone Wild”. “The Underture” closes out the standard edition of the album and it’s an instrumental bring in pieces of songs from both Welcome To My Nightmare and this album.

Overall, the songs are just so varied I think you have to really be patient and let it all soak in. After the first listen, my head was spinning was variety of music. With each listen, I’m picking up on songs more than I had before and while there are some really bad songs on this disc, they are few and far between and the songs I like I like A LOT. Having said that, Welcome 2 My Nightmare is easily Alice’s best since The Eyes of Alice Cooper if not The Last Temptation.

Highlights: “I Am Made Of You”, “Caffeine”, “The Congregation”, “I”ll Bite Your Face Off”, “Something To Remember Me By”, “What Baby Wants”, “I Gotta Get Outta Here”, “Under The Bed”

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Buy ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’ at Amazon.com

Bonus Words:

Welcome 2 My Nightmare continues a rather disturbing trend of offering different bonus tracks depending on which edition you buy: the regular edition of this album has no bonus tracks, the Classic Rock Fan Pack has “Under the Bed” and a live version of “Poison”, the deluxe edition features a cover of The Animals’ “We Gotta Get out of This Place” and live versions of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” & “The Black Widow”, the vinyl album has “Flatline” and finally iTunes gets the exclusive “A Bad Situation” (which you can’t even purchase as a single, you HAVE to buy the whole album to get it).

I really couldn’t care less about the live tracks but there are four brand new tracks scattered about that I would have loved to have been included on at least ONE edition of the album so I could just buy that one! It’s a cash grab and I don’t think this practice is very fair to the fans. I can’t imagine a significant number of fans are going to buy all of these albums to get those handful of bonus tracks because you’re looking at someone having to spend $80-100 total to snatch up all of these editions. I really don’t understand the thought process here and Alice isn’t the only artist guilty of it. If anything, this only seems to increase the likelihood of illegal downloading.

After that little rant, I have to be honest: I have two copies. The CR Fan Pack and then a standard edition (no bonus tracks) that came with Alice’s autograph when you pre-ordered… Hey, at least I didn’t buy an extra copy for bonus tracks!

ALICE COOPER – Alice Cooper Goes to Hell

Alice Cooper – Alice Cooper Goes to Hell (2008, Warner Bros. Records)
Original Release: 1976, Warner Bros. Records

1. “Go to Hell” … 5:15
2. “You Gotta Dance” … 2:45
3. “I’m the Coolest” … 3:57
4. “Didn’t We Meet” … 4:16
5. “I Never Cry” … 3:44
6. “Give the Kid a Break” … 4:14
7. “Guilty” … 3:22
8. “Wake Me Gently” … 5:03
9. “Wish You Were Here” … 4:36
10. “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” … 2:08
11. “Going Home” … 3:47

Musicians:
Alice Cooper – Vocals
Dick Wagner – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Steve Hunter – Guitar
John Tropea – Guitar
Tony Levin – Bass
Babbitt – Bass
Allan Schwartzberg – Drums
Jim Gordon – Drums
Jim Maelen – Percussion
Bob Ezrin – Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Producer: Bob Ezrin

…Goes to Hell is a weird album. Then again, you can say that about every Alice release up until the albums became more streamlined beginning in the mid-’80s. First off, the album cover is terrible (but still better than Pretties For You!). When I first saw this album years ago at the old Camelot Music store and was just starting to get into Alice, I actually thought it was a low budget compilation disc judging by the pitiful artwork. It certainly had the retail price to go with it. For as long as I can remember this album could and still can be found for $6-8 bucks. I got this particular version (a part of Warner’s “Flashback” series) for $5.99 from Barnes & Noble.

I can’t lie, the song “Go To Hell” is classic Alice. Years before ever listening to this album I was familiar with it because it appeared on The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper box set, which I also own. I absolutely love it. It shows Alice in fine lyrical form talking about force feeding diabetics candy canes and poisoning a blind man’s dog (and even stealing his cane) After that rip-roaring opening classic we get disco Alice in the form of “You Gotta Dance”. It’s so bad it’s good but I can’t call it an album highlight.

The whole album basically sounds like the soundtrack to a musical. It features tons of different styles: disco rock, sappy pop ballads, ’50s doo-wop, rock ‘n’ roll, and weird laid back numbers like “I’m The Coolest”. When I hear that song, I can’t help but think of it as a song that you might hear on a Charlie Brown or early Garfield cartoon special. If you’ve ever see’em, you know what I’m talking about, those specials always had weird trippy songs.

Though there are a handful of songs that I found myself enjoying but there are only two classics, IMO. Alongside “Go To Hell”, there’s “I Never Cry” which is one of my favorite ballads from Alice but it was another song I was already familiar with thanks to the box set. I can’t help but try to sing along to it whenever I hear it.

This was the second of four albums (the others being Welcome to My Nightmare, Lace & Whiskey and DaDa) where basically Alice Cooper was more of a conceptual effort with Alice, Dick Wagner and Bob Ezrin guiding the ship. Ezrin already had a long history with the original Alice Cooper band and Wagner had played on some of their albums as well.was technically a solo act by this point but Ezrin and Wagner participated so heavily on these albums you could almost say that they were new Alice Cooper band.

Overall, this is an okay release but certainly not a classic and a pretty disappointing follow-up to Welcome to My Nightmare. Alice didn’t even tour for this album due to alcohol problems, which may help explain why this album isn’t up to snuff!

Highlights: “Go To Hell”, “I Never Cry”, “Didn’t We Meet”, “Wake Me Gently”, “Wish You Were Here”

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