Friday, August 25, 2023

Listen to Alice Cooper's new album Road here

If you've been following this blog, then you have probably noticed that I am a huge Alice Cooper fan. He's  the artist I've seen in concert the most and I'm of the opinion that his catalogue is as great as Elton John's or David Bowie's. Despite all this, I was totally ready to be completely underwhelmed by his new record, like I have been by some or even most of the recent ones. And by recent, I mean released in the past quarter century...

In my opinion, Alice's last masterpiece was The Last Temptation, almost thirty years ago... Although he's made some great records since (Brutal Planet jumps to mind), most of them have been merely OK (Paranormal) , with some mediocre ones (Dragontown) and some real stinkers (Along Came A Spider...). So I was very surprised to find out that this is, all in all, a very decent effort. Sure, it won't rival Billion Dollar Babies or other classics but it's always good to hear Alice being Alice. 

Much like Jackson Browne's classic record Running On Empty, this is a concept album about life on the road and what it's like to be a touring musician. In interviews, Alice says that it was an opportunity to show off his current touring band and it's easy to understand why: they are a well-honed unit, a real killing machine that manages to be tight without ever losing the groove. On stage, they excel on heavy metal, rockers, ballads ant the typically un-categorizably quirky Alice songs (like Pain) equally.

On this set, most of the songs are in the garage rock vein of his early naughts releases. It would be great to hear some of his more "progressive" side, especially since the current band's rendition of Halo of Flies was the centerpiece of the 2017-2018 tour (as evidenced on the concert movie A Paranormal Evening At The Olympia In Paris) , but this is a style he excels at so he might as well flaunt it. There are a few stock riffs and force-fed choruses but the album is mostly comprised of well-constructed songs with clever, if predictable lyrics.

I don't know how often I will revisit this one, but it's a very satisfying return to form after 2021's mediocre Detroit Stories. And with another album on the way, it's reassuring to know that even though the man is pushing eighty, Alice Cooper is not ready to wipe the mascara off just yet.

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