Monday, September 5, 2011

Flying the Coop

Okay. Look at that album cover. Is it any wonder I was nervous about this album? It looks like somebody tried to update the classic, wonderful cover to Welcome to my Nightmare with a bad Photoshop job and Heinz Ketchup. So seeing this a month ago didn't exactly stoke my fires. Neither did having Bob Ezrin (who produced the original WTMN) do much... after all, didn't he produce Brutal Planet? Not a bad album, but just not Alice. Or, not the Alice I like.

I have to say, after listening to the album, I'm satisfied. It's half-awesome. Even when it falters, like the ballad (all AC albums have to have a ballad, you know), it's not horrible. And when it shines it's more earworm than those slugs they stuck in Chekov's ear in The Wrath of Khan.

Welcome 2 My Nightmare starts off in a very worrying manner, with the piano riff from Steven, one of Alice's seminal classics. Will this simply be a rehash, Jim Steinman style? No, soon it deviates from the original. In a way it reminded me of that one ST:TNG ep where Captain Picard fell for some piano-playing astrophysicist, and she came buy to jam with him and her roll-up keyboard, and they played with the melody of whatever that classic song was, too lazy to look up all the details right now. It's interesting, and forgiveable, as it's a link to the original album... and then Alice Cooper starts singing.

And he's auto-tuned.

Yes, the song I Am Made of You has Alice auto-tuned. Like Cher's Believe. Alice. Cooper. Auto-tuned.

And it works.

It's a very powerful song, and I just realized that it's pretty much Alice talking blatantly and forthright about being a Christian and what it's meant to him all these years. I guess all the years of the spam email chains of "Praise Jeebus, Alice Cooper is saved!" finally got to him. You know, I'm an atheist, but if Alice's Christianity can make a song this powerful and good, I don't mind one bit.

Besides, if anybody needed help singing, it's Alice. I mean, come on!

The next song, Caffeine, at first listen, was irritating as fuck. But on subsequent listens, it becomes... well, this album's frenetic Under My Wheels track. Pretty good, really.

Next is a revisit to Steven with The Nightmare Returns... you could say that Alice ran out of speed to stay awake, and finally he fell asleep in his Steven personna... and it revisits that motif and builds on it. While I didn't like this when I heard it by itself, on the premiere special for radio stations, I liked it on the album as a whole.

Next is probably this album's Some Folks... a Tom Waits sounding song, The Last Man on Earth. To be honest, it reminds me of the Heat Miser/Snow Miser songs from the Rankin/Bass animated special, The Year Without a Santa Claus. It's pretty awesome.

The rest of the album? I still need to listen to. The song Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever, which includes Alice's attempt at (cough) rap music, was at first a real horror show. But now, it's kind of effing catchy. I've listened to it a few times. But I'm not sure I'd wanna see it live.

The album ends with an instrumental mashup of riffs from both the original WTMN and W2MN. An interesting piece, but only after you're familiar with the new album.

All in all... not as good as The Eyes of Alice Cooper. But still pretty damn good.

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