Alice Cooper | Welcome 2 My Nightmare | Rating: 7/11 |
As a music critic, I tend to be wary of “sequel” albums… Actually, I tend to avoid “concept albums” to begin with. However, there are those life-long musical heroes whom I’ll happily indulge, even if their prime was quite a few decades ago… And there are few I’m happier to do that for than Alice Cooper. Honestly, I feel bad for the Coop’s musical legacy (not that it needs even a tiny bit of sympathy). Somehow, he has fallen into the category of state fair entertainment and “Classic Rock radio.” He tends to share fans with Lynard Skynard and Ted Nugent. Fans who are, let’s just say are “less than progressive… in terms of anything.” No one seems to remember to remember Alice at his most beautifully transgressive: the transvestism, the explorations of necrophilia, those early noise albums. I mean, there’s a reason that John Lydon fucking loves this guy.
Well, Alice Cooper recently released Welcome 2 My Nightmare, the sequel to 1975’s Welcome to My Nightmare (Alice’s solo debut). Although he never strayed from Alice’s catalogue for too long, Bob Ezrin did return to produce the sequel to their 1975 collaboration. They claim that it picks up right where the original left off… however, they admit that this time around they weren’t taking things quite so seriously, and enjoyed imbuing the album with a bit of humor… I was happy to hear that that was intentional.
So any album of this kind does rely on a certain novel aspect… andWelcome 2 My Nightmare is loaded with that. Although it’s not quite as extreme as the let’s-get-every-individual-to-ever-grace-the-cover-of-Hit-Parader-to-appear-somewhere-on-this-album sentiment found on 1989 and 1991’s Trash and Hey Stoopid (which are actually brilliant), the album does contain it’s fair share of guest appearances that only make the songs more fun after reading the liner notes. For the category of “sincerely cool”, original Alice Cooper band members Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce, and Neal Smith reunite on three tracks (which sound… well like their original selves, matured thirty years or so). For the category of “Oh, that’s kind of cool,” you have appearances by Keith Nelson, John 5, and Rob Zombie (although the liner notes are the only reason you would know they were there). And in the category of “What the Fuck?” you have Vince Gill and Ke$ha (who helps transform “What Baby Wants” into an actually-not-bad 80s dance rock number).
So really, how is the music? Well, it certainly doesn’t contain a “The Black Widow,” “Only Women Bleed,” or “Steven,” yet I’m pretty sure we were well-aware and prepared-to-handle that it wouldn’t. The album’s best track, “I Gotta Get Outta Here,” provides a Southern-friend take on Glam. “The Congregation” would sound at-place alongside any of his other dozens of anthems which have served as show-closers at various points in the past five decades. And “Ghouls Gone Wild” is a delightful and uber-accessible take on surf rock that sounds like it was written by Wednesday 13’s dad.
The album tends to suffer when it attempts any level of sincerity or “spookiness.” Album closer, “The Underture,” is… well, what could I possibly say that you haven’t already guessed. Similarly, the album opener, “I Am Made of You,” a lo-fi, space-age ballad is hard to not chuckle at. “The Nightmare Returns,” another “haunter,” evokes the same response.Basically, golf-playing Republicans in their sixties aren’t scary… well… you know what I mean.
And then there are the songs that are hard to settle on. There’s track two (whose name I am withholding for the sake of a punch line), reminiscent of some of Alice’s most enthralling, hardest rocking moments of the early nineties, which tells a tale of addiction… caffeine addiction (Okay, so I realize your tongue is in your cheek… but still.) So what’s the consensus? Well, I don’t think any fans of the Coop will be heartbroken… but Welcome 2 My Nightmare certainly doesn’t warrant a sequel itself.