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Alice Cooper
Welcome 2 My Nightmare
October 2011
Released: 2011, Bigger Picture
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

About a year I go I was reintroduced to Alice’s 1975 conceptual classick WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE. Though I’d listened to the album numerous times prior, for some reason this time it clicked in a way that it never had before. I found myself listening to the album almost daily for months on end, sitting in my day job cubicle with my headphones strapped on, ensconced in the layers of arrangements and instrumentation that seemed to evade me in prior sittings. Alice’s lyrical prose is captivating as we follow him down the rabbit hole of his horrific subconscious, introducing us to characters like the Black Widow and Steven along the way. Admittedly, I throw around the word “brilliant” far too frequently to really do the word justice, but if there was ever an album that was truly deserving of such an adjective, it’s WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE.



So when it was announced that Alice’s new disc would in fact be a sequel to the 35 year old classic, my reaction was less than joyous, even less so as details around the album trickled through the press. Point 1 – the idea that a sequel was needed. Any sequel would forever live in the shadow of the original WTMN, no matter how good it actually was. And let’s speak frankly here; Alice’s track record over the last 15 years has been pretty hit and miss, and this is one he couldn’t afford to ‘miss’. And the “2” in the title? C’mon, did Alice just learn to text or what? Point 2 – The Ke$ha duet, ‘nuff said. Point 3 – the painfully bad cover art. Like 10th grade Photoshop project bad. Like bad enough that Alice doesn’t even realize how goofy it looks. But on the positive side, Bob Ezrin was returning as Producer, and several members of the original Alice Cooper band would be making appearances on the album. I would be listening for sure, but my expectations were set for disappointment.



But if I’ve learned anything from Alice over the years, it’s this – never underestimate the guy. W2MN is good. It’s really good. Not as good as its predecessor, but it’s the arguably closest that 21st century Alice has come to sounding like 1970’s Alice in a long time, and that should be good enough for any serious fan. Recent releases have sounded a lot like the man trying to stay relevant with whatever current the musical flavor of the week was, whereas the classic Alice didn’t want/try/need to sound like anything else - it just sounded like Alice Cooper. And that’s exactly where the new album succeeds. Just like the original WTMN, the sequel is a diverse musical gumbo that explores territory well outside of typical hard rock constraints. But so did MUSCLE OF LOVE, LACE AND WHISKEY, even earlier discs like KILLERS, and it's that natural flow of creativity without guardrails that makes W2MN such a smart record.



There’s no shortage of rockin’ anthems on WTMN, but the most interesting moments on the disc are when Alice strays from the norm. The caberet, N’awlins styled jazz of “Last Man on Earth” recalls the swaggery “Some Folks,” while the rockabilly bounce of “A Runaway Train” is one of the album’s highlights. There’s some self-effacing attempts at hip-hop (“Bloodbath Boogie Disco Fever”), which while on paper sounds horrible, but in execution you can tell that Alice is having some fun with the genre and isn’t taking it too seriously. Hell, even the Ke$ha duet is pretty good. Her contribution is thankfully limited and really isn’t so outstanding that it couldn’t have been performed by any other female vocalist. And the cut itself sounds like a leftover from the ’86 CONSTRICTOR sessions. As far as a personal fav, it’s a toss-up between the album opener “I Am Made of You” and the “Department of Youth” inspired “The Congregation.” The former track is a personal letter from Alice to his nightmare (or more likely Vince Furnier to his fans), while the latter is just a powerful, anthemic, blood pumpin' good time.



So there you have it.



Whatever changes were made to the recipe this time around, it worked. Alice has been vocal about Ezrin’s contributions and inspirations during the writing sessions, and to that I say “bring him back for every album from now on.”

WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE is fun, it’s hooky, it’s different, and it’s the Alice Cooper I’ve wanted to hear again for so long. Certainly not as good as its predecessor, but it's certainly good enough to make you forget the hair band twaddle he's been pumping out for years. Welcome back Mr. Cooper.
Track Listing

1. I Am Made of You
2. Caffeine
3. The Nightmare Returns
4. A Runaway Train
5. Last Man on Earth
6. The Congregation
7. I’ll Bite Your Face Off
8. Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever
9. Ghouls Gone Wild
10. Something to Remember Me By
11. When Hell Comes Home
12. What Baby Wants (feat. Ke$ha)
13. I Gotta Get Outta Here
14. The Underture

Lineup

Alice Cooper – Vocals
Dennis Dunaway – Bass
Michael Bruce – Guitars
Neal Smith – Drums
Steve Hunter – Guitars
Keith Nelson – Guitars
Tommy Denander – Guitars
Chuck Garric – Bass
John 5 – Guitars


Next review: » Alice Cooper - Welcome 2 My Nightmare
Previous review: » Alice Cooper - The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper (Boxset)

Alice Cooper
Welcome 2 My Nightmare
October 2011
Released: 2011, Universal
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Celtic Bob

What can I say? I am an Alice fan and have been for many years. He did lose me for awhile in the 90’s but regained my allegiance with the release of THE EYES OF ALICE COOPER back in 2003. Since then I have loved every album until now



WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE features a guest appearance by Pop singer Ke$ha (who, according to Wikipedia insisted that NO Guitars be used on her album) who duets with Cooper on “What Baby Wants”. This is not the only bad thing about this album. Nowhere is Damon Johnson’s guitar playing found on the recording. Longtime bassist Chuck Garric is credited on 1 song. It gets better, Cooper uses Auto-Tune, yes Auto-Tune on his vocals. Blasphemous!!! What in the name of fuck are you thinking Alice? For over 40 years you were the King of Shock and created many damn fine albums. There were a few that were a bit out in left field that lost you fans and popularity with critics but this use of Auto-Tune is just so in your face and horrible.



The songs are classic Alice lyrically and are what we’ve come to expect and love about his albums. There is even a ballad on here; “Something To Remember Me By” that is just as creepy as anything he’s ever done. It is songs like “What Baby Wants” and “I Am Made Of You” with it’s blatant use of Auto-Tune that take away from this album drastically. Also the poppy/dance/computer generated “Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever” is hard on the ears for the most part except for the guitar solo segments done by John 5. However it is great to see him working with his old band and producer but it never should be called WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE. The original is a timeless classic and this doesn’t come close. The song “Ghouls Gone Wild” puts you in mind of the old Eddie Cochran song “Summertime Blues”, a fun and upbeat song. Even so, not one of the album’s stronger tracks.



Like many albums there are good songs, bad songs and OK songs. With WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE there are some OK songs and some terrible songs. There are a few numbers that I do really enjoy and “The Underture” was really well done and a nice way to end the disc. With a stroke or 2 of luck Alice will pick up his phone and call up Keri and Damon or Jason or Ryan even and get them back in the band. Alice’s live band has been nothing short of amazing every time I have seen them so why isn’t the live band playing on the album? There is no excuse. Alice really missed the mark on this one.
Track Listing

1. I Am Made Of You
2. Caffeine
3. The Nightmare Returns
4. A Runaway Train
5. Last Man On Earth
6. The Congregation
7. I’ll Bite Your Face Off
8. Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever
9. Ghouls Gone Wild
10. Something To Remember Me By
11. When Hell Comes Home
12. What Baby Wants
13. I Gotta Get Outta Here
14. The Underture

Lineup

Alice Cooper - Vocals, Harmonica
Tommy Henriksen - (Associate Producer) Co-songwriter,Guitars,Bass,Keyboards,Vocals,Programming,Engineer,Mixing
Michael Bruce - Guitars, keyboards, backing vocals on "A Runaway Train", "I'll Bite Your Face Off" and "When Hell Comes Home"
Dennis Dunaway - Bass, backing vocals on "A Runaway Train", "I'll Bite Your Face Off" and "When Hell Comes Home"
Neal Smith - Drums, percussion, backing vocals on "A Runaway Train", "I'll Bite Your Face Off" and "When Hell Comes Home"
Steve Hunter - guitars on "Something To Remember Me By", "When Hell Comes Home" and "What Baby Wants"
Keith Nelson - Guitars, backing vocals on "Caffeine"
Dick Wagner - Co-songwriter / Lead guitar on "The Underture"
Tommy Denander - Guitars on "I Am Made of You"
Vince Gill - Lead guitar on "A Runaway Train" and "Gotta Get Outta Here"
Ke$ha - Guest vocals on "What Baby Wants"
Rob Zombie - Backing vocals on "The Congregation"
John 5 - guitar on "Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever"
Chuck Garric - Bass
Piggy D - Co-songwriter, and bass on "Last Man On Earth"
David Spreng - Co-songwriter and drums on "Last Man On Earth"
Kip Winger - backing vocals on "Ghouls Gone Wild" & "The Congregation"
Patterson Hood - guitar on "Gotta Get Outta Here"
Damon Johnson - guitar on "We Gotta Get Out of This Place"
Keri Kelli - guitar on "We Gotta Get Out of This Place"
Jimmy DeGrasso - drums on "We Gotta Get Out of This Place"
Pat Buchanan - Guitars
Vicki Hampton - Backing vocals
Wendy Moten - Backing vocals
Scott Williamson - Drums
Jimmie Lee Sloas - Bass


Next review: » Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way to Blue
Previous review: » Alice Cooper - The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper (Boxset)





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