Author: Popoff, Martin
Title: Welcome To My Nightmare
Label: Wymer Publishing
Reviewed: November 2018
Reviewed by : JP
There has been a lot of activity in the Alice Cooper camp lately. There was a well-received album in 2017, a couple of big tours in Europe and North America, a new Double Live album and a new book celebrating the 50thof the icon. I thought I’d take this opportunity to help celebrate the 50thanniversary of Alice Cooper with a trio of reviews; two books and the new Double live album. Feel free to enjoy all the reviews in this mini-feature.
In his introduction Martin speaks eloquently about his love for Alice Cooper and says that Alice really has been a part of Martins life for most of his life. I’m in the same boat, with Alice being one of, if not the first, heavy music artist I got into as a kid in the 70’s. Alice has been a constant, a staple of my musical diet for over 40 years, my entire teen and adult life.
WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE is magnificent. It’s all in glorious colour, tons of photos, pictures of all the album covers and all of it printed on nice paper. The book is just jam-packed with first hand account of members of the Alice Cooper Band and hired guns. The first hand interviews are all culled from Popoffs extensive archives. There are other Alice cooper experts who step up to the plate to drop in some commentary and perspective, Gavin Baddeley among them. There is a select discography as well. Everything about this book, the layout and design are top notch! Gorgeous! The format is essentially a year-by-year, blow-by blow look at the career of Alice Cooper. Dates, trivia, quotes, contextual references, tour dates, pictures, it is all here. I really like the year by year format, it is so logical, fun and easy to read bit by bit.
There is one curious point I’m going to draw attention too, even though it is so minor as to be not important, but it caught my eye. One the back of the book it says, “Shockingly, there has not been a comprehensive Alice Cooper book since the eighties.”, which is not totally accurate. Dave Thompson wrote a massive 300+ page well-researched, fairly comprehensive bibliography of Alice Cooper just six years ago. And (!) it is also called, you guessed it, “WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE’! I reviewed it for Metal-Rules.com, if you wish to look it up. Like I said, a minor point, however as a coffee table style, book Popoff’s, WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE is way more visually appealing to look at and covers the newer material in a far superior fashion, but more on this later.
The vast majority of the time I’m 100% on board with Popoff and his assessment and opinions. However, I feel like I have to take him to task a bit on this one. It is pretty evident that Popoff is a big fan of the Alice Cooper band and the early days. Accordingly, the book is heavily slanted towards that era. Instead on interviewing and giving us updates on more contemporary members of the band, instead we get, for example, detailed updates of the original drummers solo albums (25+ years AFTER he was in the band) and so forth…but the same attention is not paid to other members like Chuck Garric or Tommy Henrikson who has been in the band longer, toured more and appeared on more albums than all the original 70’s guys.
He unfairly writes off several of Alice’s 80’s ‘comeback albums as ‘corporate hair metal kiddie rock’ on more than one occasion. That is a pretty harsh assessment for some of Alice’s most enduring hits and most loved songs from his and fastest and heaviest albums. Alice has been rotating various songs from those albums through his setlist for ages so obviously they have merit and staying power with the band and fans.
Lastly, here is very little detail in some years of the story. Some years have massive, explicit, detail and coverage and some years just get glossed over. For example, 1974 has a 26-pages dedicated to it, a massive year to be sure, and yet the ALONG CAME A SPIDER album and world tour (2008/2009) has a mere three pages dedicated to it. It is very uneven in term of research and interviews material post 2000. Alice Cooper toured Russia with the Scorpions in 2009, and it gets diminished to one sentence, that tour alone even could be a book on it’s own! Alice and Scorpions in Russia for two weeks? There must be 1000 cool stories from that epic tour but instead in the 2009 chapter we get a quote from former drummer Neal Smith (who left the band in about 1973) about his fourth solo album, which sold about 11 copies. Another example of lack of attention to detail in the later years, is that a Double Live album, NO MORE MR, NICE GUY- LIVE! from 2011, got completed missed! Every other release got mentioned except that one.
So my minor gripe is that, WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE (like the Sam Dunn movie, like the Dave Thompson book) sees that any Alice activity post 1986 (over a quarter of a century ago) gets less attention and less respect. To hammer my point home the 1970-1980 era gets about 100 pages (41% of the total page count) of extensive coverage. To contrast, 2000-2010 where Alice did five full-length studio albums AND multiple world tours, gets about 25 pages (10% of the total page count) of coverage in the book. So it is not a matter of that Alice Cooper was inactive from 2000-2010, Popoff just chose not cover those years as much. If he did, the book could have been an unmanageable 500 pages long.
However, it is still the best, most comprehensive coverage done to date and for that I am still thankful and enjoyed reading about the past two decades, as much or even more than the 70’s era which has been rehashed many times now.
Looking back, at this review before publishing it, I spent a big chunk (probably an unfair amount) of this review complaining about one little gripe…but it is important to end this review on a high note and to re-acknowledge that WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE is truly a masterpiece. I devoured it. There is so much information to enjoy for everyone; from the casual observer, to the truest, most die-hard devotee this is the ultimate Alice book to date. I can only hope that Alice Cooper soon joins the esteemed ranks of AC/DC, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and gets the ‘Album By Album’ book treatment of Popoff’s other great book series.