Friday, June 21, 2019

Album Review: Hollywood Vampires - Rise

Hollywood Vampires is a supergroup comprised of Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp. They used to be the world's most expensive cover band, and everyone thought the joke would wear thin after a couple of years. They released an album a few years ago but this is their first set of mostly original material and it's much better than it has any right to be coming from such seasoned veterans. Alice Cooper and Joe Perry haven't sounded this inspired in years, and the whole record just exudes dark, sick, mischievous fun.

The album opens with I Want My Now, a big, anthemic hard rocking monster that's lyrically reminiscent of Alice's Caught In A Dream.

Who's Laughing Now is a T-Rex romp with Alice's trademark snarl and Johnny Depp's affected Ian Curtis impression with a fat bass and a greasy riff that recalls seventies-era 'Smith.

The gothic harpsichord arpeggios of How The Glass Fell is a throwback to early Alice Cooper and segues into The Boogieman Surprise, a heavy number with a ZZ Top-like riff and atmospheric keyboards, with an infectious pre-chorus and Joe Perry guitar solo as the apotheosis.

If you've ever dreamt of what a Jeff Beck guitar solo on an Alice Cooper record, Welcome to Bushwackers is the closest you'll ever get. A malevolent rockabilly number with an attitude, the song is one of the highlights of the LP thanks to the master guitarist's intervention.

In keeping with the original concept of the band (paying tribute to their dead, drunk friends), Joe Perry sings a faithful cover of Johnny Thunders' You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory, while Johnny Depp does a frantic rendition of the Jim Carroll Band's People Who Died, complete with freak-out guitar solo à la Robert Quine. Unfortunately his version of David Bowie's "Heroes" misses the mark somewhat.

But it's a minor flaw in light of such killer songs and performances, like the aggressive metal psychedelia of Git from Round Me, Perry's guitar solo on New Threat or the morbid ballad Mr. Spider.

And then there's We Gotta Rise, the riotous singalong theme song to a demented carnival ride, part drunken sea chanty, part hooligan anthem, somewhere between Tom Waits,  the Beatles' Yellow Submarine and Bob Dylan's Rainy Day # 12 & 35 .

The LP ends with Congratulations, a spoken acoustic ballad that highlights Alice's and Johnnys talents as storytellers and character actors.

A classic hard rock record in the tradition of the great seventies LPs, Rise proves that there is plenty of life left in these old vampires.

Genre: Hard Rock
Release Date: June 21st, 2019
Label: earMusic
Rating: 8/10

Stream or buy Rise by Hollywood Vampires with the links below.

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