It has been over 35
years since Alice Cooper released his legendary first solo album Welcome
To My Nightmare. (Though, technically, lots of people didn't know
it was a solo debut since his longtime band, which had recorded seven
albums, was also named Alice Cooper.) It was a multi-platinum album
and considered one of the great works of early hard rock.
But has anyone really
been waiting in 2011 for a sequel to that album? Particularly since
Cooper's last hit, "Poison," was released way back in 1989 (and even at the
time was considered a comeback surge for a long-dormant career.) His
last album, the independent 2008 release Along Came A Spider, barely
made a ripple in the pop culture consciousness when it was released.
Let's face it, Alice Cooper is better known as a celeb golfer and occasional
conservative pundit than he is as a singer anymore.
To My Nightmare was a truly special work in the rock annals - the
concept album as a horror movie - and spawned one of Cooper's most gorgeous
hits ("Only Women Bleed") as well as the highly theatrical title track and
one of the most visually captivating rock tours in history.
If Welcome 2 My
Nightmare comes close to living up to its (sorta) namesake then it is
cause for celebration. Of course, if it doesn't, it can just harm the
reputation of an acknowledged classic (Bat Out of Hell II and III,
Welcome 2 My Nightmare is far better than most people would
expect. Cooper reunites with the producer and many of the musicians who worked on the
original concept album and comes out with an record that not only recaptures
the sound of 1975, it actually sounds like it was made in 1975.The pleasant surprise
Of course, that has
it's own built in benefits and drawbacks. Cooper makes few concessions
to modern musical styles, therefore it may be a little hard for the album to
find an audience beyond his current older fans. Then again, what really were
the chances that the kids were going to look for an Alice Cooper album,
Again, Welcome 2
My Nightmare attempts to be the aural equivalent of a chiller and it
mostly succeeds, mixing styles and subjects with panache. Cooper is
best known for his balls to the wall rock and he gives that, but also slips
in little bits of alt, country, pop, cabaret and even a bit of funk.
And honestly, though
some hardcore fans will find this sacrilege, I personally think perhaps
Cooper's finest talent was as a balladeer. Back in the day, his streak
of "Only Women Bleed," "I Never Cry" and "You & Me" was one of the great
runs of introspective mellow brilliance in hard rock circles. The new
ballad "Something To Remember Me By" is deserving of a mention with those
songs - and that is high praise indeed.
Probably the song
with the best chance to catch on is "What Baby Wants," the duet with pop
princess Ke$ha, but it is honestly one of the weaker cuts here. I'd
much prefer to hear the lovely "I Am Made of You" or the straight ahead rock
drive of "Caffeine" or the ethereal "The Nightmare Returns" or even the
Tom-Waits-wannabe "Last Man on Earth" catching on.
In some ways,
Welcome 2 My Nightmare is a cynical piece of product, but it is also the
best work that Alice Cooper has done in decades. I don't know for sure
how relevant this music is anymore, but if you love 70s glam shock rock,
Welcome 2 will be a welcome jolt back in time.
Jay S. Jacobs
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Posted: September 16, 2011.