Always late to the party, but better late than never.
My earliest memory of Alice Cooper comes courtesy of Wayne’s World in that pretty funny clip showing Cooper rocking out on “Feed My Frankenstein” then back stage talking with precise sophistication about the history of Milwaukee throwing the goof balls Wayne and Garth for a loop.
Of course, I know the handful of hits played on terrestrial radio. But a few years ago, Alice Cooper opened for Motley Crue’s first farewell tour which initiated me to his live show and tossed me in the deep end of his catalog. The show was more spectacle than music concert but he played like a headliner and entertained thoroughly.
He got his head chopped off, too.
I never knew what to make of Alice Cooper music though, so he was mostly sidelined from my ears. However, I did respect the man behind the make-up. How could you not? He battled alcoholism and helps others in their addictions, has been married to his wife since the 70s, publicly embraces his Christian faith all the while looking like a ghoul on stage and staying true to his rock and roll roots.
Which Alice Cooper does precisely on his new album Detroit Stories released Feb. 26.
Alice Cooper Detroit Stories Album Review
Wow, Alice Cooper rocking at 73 years of age. And sounding like he’s rocking at 33 years of age. This 21st solo album and 28th overall in a career nearly 60 years long, Alice Cooper brings along a plethora of musicians for Detroit Stories including longtime guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith all who worked with Alice Cooper on the 1969 debut Pretties for You for the Alice Cooper band. Old school producer Bob Ezrin also comes along for the ride.
A few, perhaps, unnecessary covers on this 15 song, 50 minute long album though without them Detroit Stories extends just more than half and hour as two of the longest songs come from the covers. The Lou Reed “Rock & Roll” opens the album, Bob Seger’s “East Side Story” closes it and in between Outrageous Cherry’s “Our Love Will Change the World” from 2005 but sounds like something out of the Beatles catalog and the MC5 cover “Sister Anne.” But Alice Cooper shines on all of them.
The 11 originals range from hard rocking fun to a bit of blues and some border lining on musical theater but mostly just all out guitar-centric rock music that hails from any era of the last 50 years.
Enjoy the rocking licks on “Detroit City 2021” and “Shut Up and Rock” where Alice Cooper offers the social media darlings some poignant advice: “Don’t want to hear about your politics / Hear about it every day / Or all the talk about what makes you tick / Don’t care anyway.” Check out the musical styling of “Go Man Go” or “Independence Dave,” the bluesy confections of “$1000 High Heel Shoes” and “Drunk and in Love” and uninhibited public house rock on “Social Debris” and “Hail Mary.”
“I Hate You” won’t win a Grammy (nor will the album which means its good) but it’s pretty fun. Like punk rock filler (the shortest song on the album) and hardly one to take seriously: “I hate you and that guitar pout / Those tired riffs we all laugh about / Hate your stinkin’, pudgy fingers on the neck / You’re the King of America, but you’re no Jeff Beck!” Then just to mix it up, Alice tosses in the artful but weighty “Wonderful World.”
Alice Cooper gives his take on world events with “Hanging On By a Thread (Don’t Give Up)” a heavier piece with some emotional chords lightened with Cooper straight-up speaking certain sections of the song (an effective approach) with words of encouragement and ending with a PSA on suicide. A solid track worth your spins.
His writing hand in all the songs (except of course the covers), Alice Cooper speaks plainly and honestly to the everyday listener without complicated or ornate lyrics. His vocals stronger than his contemporaries of the same age and just as powerful as singers similar in age to his children, of whom, two by the way contribute some backing vocals on Detroit Stories. In fact, though Alice Cooper contributes very little by way of instrumentation – outside his vocals and the harp (of all things) – he functions as a masterful and veteran conductor for Detroit Stories developing his vision for the album while aligning the horns, drums, keys, organ (yes organ too) and strings, i.e, guitars, and lots of them to coordinate, as a dozen players offer their rhythms on various songs. Plus, a choir of backing vocalists.
OK, off to listen to Hey Stoopid.
Alice Cooper Detroit Stories Track List:
- Rock & Roll
- Go Man Go
- Our Love Will Change the World
- Social debris
- $1000 High Heel Shoes
- Hail Mary
- Detroit City 2021
- Drunk and in Love
- Independence Dave
- I Hate You
- Wonderful World
- Sister Anne
- Hanging on by a Thread (Don’t Give Up)
- Shut Up and Rock
- East Side Story