Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Alice Cooper's "Welcome 2 My Nightmare"

36 years ago came a release entitled "Welcome to My Nightmare". And what that was, was Alice Cooper's first forray as a solo artist. For those of you who are uneducated in the class of Alice Cooper, Alice Cooper was actually the band's name before he went solo. And to be frank, they are some of the best rock albums you will ever hear. But going back, "Welcome to My Nightmare" EXPLODED onto the scene, and was a huge success. Critically and financially. And with any concept album, there's ALWAYS room for a sequel. It's like a Stallone franchise. There's always gonna' be another. And for unhealthily obsessed fans as myself, it's music to my ears. Literally.

The first "Nightmare" album put you inside the mind of Alice Cooper, the character. And it varied oh so well. From it's jazz-rock intro (title track), the finger-snapping "Some Folks", the teary-eyed "Only Women Bleed", the rebellious-youth anthem "Department of Youth", the necrophilia food-referencial "Cold Ethyl", to it's straight-up/stripped down close "Escape", the album is all over the place. And in the best possible way. So good, there HAS to be a second part, right? Right... Only 36 years later.

I've listened to the new album maybe a good 5 or 6 times already, and Im still unsure of all it's micro-references and storylines. All due to the fact that I dont have the actual hard copy and booklet. Yes, I downloaded it. And you know what? Fuck you. If I shell out the $40 for the pre-order, Im entitled to enjoy it a little earlier. With any concept album, reading along as the story progresses is the best way to take in everything. But until September 13, Im going to have to try and piece it together by ear.

And so the nightmare begins. The albums opens up with "I Am Made of You". I absolutely LOVE this song. It creates an atmosphere parallel to the '75's "Nightmare" atmosphere... Only different. There's auto-tune. Yeah, I said the same thing when I heard about it. But take a couple steps back. Think about what auto-tune was intended to be used for. As an effect. I have no problem with someone who has the ability to sing using it as a tool. Most of the rappers using it can't fucking sing. So they rely on technology to sing for them. But Alice can sing. And it actually makes him sound creepier. From what I've gathered, it picks up right where the last "Nightmare" left off. He's trapped in this nightmare and he's looking for someone to get him out. It's got some rather powerful pieces.

Next up is "Caffeine". This is quite possibly my favorite song on the album. Fucking LOVE it. It's a great rock 'n roll jam. Ridiculously catchy verses and a fun wit-filled chorus. The song is essentially a Nightmare on Elm Street-esque song. It's not about the film, but it shares the idea of having to stay awake or you'll die. I just love the line "Im shakin' in the ice cold shower! I've been here for about week!" doesn't sound too cool in black and white, but listen to it. You'll understand what I mean.

Third is "The Nightmare Returns". For those of you who know "Steven", this is essentially the beginning of "Steven", but with a heavy rock injection. The beginning has Cooper singing a children's nursery rhyme. It kind of reminds me of "Lullaby" off of "The Last Temptation" album. It's a short track, but very enjoyable.

"A Runaway Train". This one is a stripped down, one-beat, no-structure kind of song. The title works really well with the song itself. It sounds as if the song is a runaway train itself. The same riff and beat just keeping going and going and going. But it never gets boring. The lyrics compliment the tunes because they're actually quite clever. I remember when I first heard the lyric "Im on the wrong side of the dirt", I thought to myself, "Hmmm, that sounds a bit... OH I GET IT.". But once I got it, I thought it was genius. Cleva' girl. And for some reason, it reminds me a lot of Jimi Hendrix.

Next we have "The Last Man On Earth". And this is another personal favorite of mine. It's so fucking good. For those of you keeping score, this is almost the "Some Folks" of "W2MN". The music itself is what you would hear at a cheap Vaudevillian show. Snares with brush sticks, banjos, fiddles. Everything about the song works so well. But what stands out is Cooper's vocals. He has a fucking MEAN snarl in this song. When I listen to this song, I cant help but to think of the Twilight Zone episode with Burgess Merideth. That's the setting I see for this song. Empty, desolate... An anti-humanity paradise.

"The Congregation" is next. I enjoy this song quite a bit. It has a cool intro, then segways to something that could be off of "The Eyes of Alice Cooper". It's got that garage rock attitude. This song serves almost as the purgatory of the nightmare. When you die, you go to The Congregation. Towards the end, Alice turns into a sideshow showman. In a non-lyrical speaking bit, he introduces us to dead lawyers, pimps, stock brokers. Touches up on our disastrous economy a bit. But it's very tongue-in-cheek.

Here we have Nicolas Ca...Er, Alice Cooper's "I'll Bite Your Face Off". A title only Alice can get away with. This serves as the single for this release. And it's a great one at that. "I'll Bite Your Face Off" is undoubtedly The Rolling Stones. It almost sounds as if the notes are emitting from Keith Richards' decrepid fingers right then and there. The song itself is about a woman who does very bad things to men. Alice has done quite a few songs like this. In fact, he has two on this album. One good, and one... We'll get there. Anyway, the best part comes toward the end. It's a gorgeous piano bit. As Walter Sobchak would tell you, "It really ties the song together".

Ah, "Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever". This is a song that you're either going to get. Or not get. And if you dont get it. Get the fuck out. This song is genius. This track follows a group of people who go on a killing spree at a disco club. And as humorous as the song is, it's creepy as well. The line "On the wall, count to ten, we mow you down, RELOAD AGAIN!". Fucking hilariously creepy. 75% of the song is an actual disco song. And that's the part I dont think people are going to get. But you know what? Fuck 'em. Their loss. Because once the disco music stops, and the killer Motorhead-esque riff revs up, the song just floors it from there.

"Ghouls Gone Wild". I cant say it's my favorite song. But it's not bad. It's pretty much a Beach Boys/Green Day hybrid. When I hear the song, I just picture the beginning of Jaws. And that's pretty much what the song is. Ghouls partying on the beach, in the streets, and so on. It's a fun little tune with a clever title, but that's really all.

The obligatory Alice ballad. "Something to Remember Me By". One thing Alice has always been consistent with, is his ballads. I dont recollect one album without one. Even his 2 god-awful industrial nu-metal albums have some beautiful ballads. And this song is nothing short of beautiful. Now Im still unclear as to WHAT that "something" is. Upon hearing the title, I picture something twisted. Like a severed head or a dead animal. But there's nothing in the song that indicates a twisted love song. Regardless, it's a beautiful song. To compare it to another ballad, it's in the vein of "I Never Cry".

"When Hell Comes Home" is particularly interesting because it has this heavy piano eerieness to it. And it meshes perfectly with the dark content of the lyrics. Which delve into child abuse, drinking, and murder. Lyrically, it reminds me of "Dead Babies". Cooper's singing style in this song is like that of a snake. Snakes cant sing, I know. What Im trying to convey is his flow has a slither-like quality to it. All in all, it's a damn good song.

Ugh, I was trying to avoid this song. For days Ive tried to forget this song. Nothing works. Hammers, clubs, tire-irons, nothing is releasing this song from my brain. And this song is "What Baby Wants". The OTHER "woman doing bad things to men" song. Except this woman is the Devil. And the Devil is Ke$ha. "You mean Alice is making fun of Ke$ha in the song?". "No, I mean she sings on the song you wish was only making fun of her.". To be honest, it's not even an Alice Cooper song with Ke$ha on it. It's a Ke$ha song featuring Alice Cooper. Is it really? No. It's on the album. But that's what it sounds like. Computer-processed feux-sounding guitars, weird computer bleeps, and just a plethora of "No! No! No!". And what's even worse is there is one section that almost caused a black hole in the center of the universe. One section features a synthesized violin that is pulled directly out of Britney Spear's "Toxic", which is a rip-off of Alice Cooper's "Poison". So Ke$ha, a rip-off of Britney Spears, appears on a rip-off tune that's a rip-off of Alice Cooper to begin with. In a nutshell, simply make the song "not exist" when you transfer it into your iTunes or whatehaveyou.

"Gotta Get Outta Here" is the last vocal song on the album. It pretty much serves as the "Escape" of this album. It's also a re-capper as well. It sums up the whole album's series of events. As for the music itself, it's very catchy. It's more so an acoustic-based tune with the support of distortion.

And the nightmare concludes with this INCREDIBLE instrumental, orchestrated suite called "The Underture". This song features orchestrated/rock renditions on some of the new tunes, but a few off of the original "Nightmare" album. A great closer. And almost serves as a great opener (if you're going to listen to the album directly after it's finish!).

What can be said about Alice Cooper's "Welcome 2 My Nightmare"? Genius. As much credit Alice deserves for this installment, Bob Ezrin, Alice's producer deserves just as much. The problem with some of Alice's later albums was that Ezrin didn't produce them. And the way I see it, Ezrin is the glue. He somehow manages to mesh together a handful of things that would otherwise never mesh together. Ezrin also adds that extra ensured quality as well. There are only a handful of Coop albums that I do not like (and those are from the early 80's). But I can openly admit, Ezrin and Cooper are definitely stronger together than alone. There are so many little nuances on this album that I am sure were spawned from Ezrin's brain, and Im sure there are little nuances that were spawned from Alice's grey matter only because he probably thought, "What would Ezrin do?".

Another plus, the original Alice Cooper group. The original members perform on a handful of these songs. Which I find to be incredible. Kinda' odd at the same time due to the fact that the first "Welcome to My Nightmare" was the first album WITHOUT them, but killer nonetheless.

With this latest effort, I think Alice will get a little revival in terms of mainstream popularity. I can only imagine what the stage show will be in support of the new album. The first "Welcome To My Nightmare" is amongst the biggest stage production EVER done at that time, and amongst the biggest stage shows in Alice's arsenal. And I think this will be Alice's biggest financial hit he's had in a long while. To conclude though, this is a SOLID fucking album. One dud on a 52-minute album? I dont see a problem there. And nor should you.

No comments:

Post a Comment