Alice Cooper

Paranormal

(e.a.r. music)

A treat from Vincent!  A new studio album AND a live performance on a second disc with a show out in Columbus.  Produced by old sparring partner Bob Ezrin, too. What can go wrong? Turns out, not much at all….in passing, Alice was surprised that guest drummer Larry Mullen from U2 insisted on seeing the song lyrics before working on the drum parts..unprecedented, says Cooper.

Paranormal finds Cooper soft selling us a restrained intro, then the song thumps into life over a stolen Bond riff. Alice sings in his best conspiratorial voice as the fuzz guitars punch away. Roger Glover plays bass on this one.  The slick guitars of Tommy Denander and Tommy Henriksen decorate this track. Dead Flies has a more declamatory vocal on a theme of extreme mistrust. Pretty fine lyric, if a tad wordy.

Fireball arrives on eerie manner than sounds like a collaboration between Montrose and Devo…don’t laugh, it does ! The vocal is distorted and a bit lost, a better mix is needed here, chaps. It’s a superior song, anyway. Dennis Dunaway from an early AC lineup takes care of bass here, sounding better than when I saw a shambolic show at The Rainbow in days of yore. This tune really does stay in your head. I’d remix it with horns for a single. Paranoiac Personality has a stealthy tread, real midnight music. Alice sings it like he means it, the words are what the title indicates and full of intent. A great guitar solo with a ripped tone cruises by, this really is excellent stuff, with a hint of Living Colour.

Fallen In Love kicks off like a Z Z Top classic and blow me, Billy Gibbons is present and correct, that melodic buzzsaw axe spraying out riffs. Tongue in cheek but tough, this recording has everyone at their best. At the two-minute that guitar snakes out and upwards. That pinched harmonic pings as the sing fades out, magic. Dynamite Road is off at breakneck speed and Alice delivers his best singing on the collection, blending speaking with singing. A ringing arpeggio bridge maximises the dynamic tension and one of the guitars sins off.

Private Public Breakdown has a pumping BritRock riff and another cool performance from Cooper, almost sounds like an unused cut from Billion Dollar Babies. Melodic and catchy. Holy Water is lively and horn-driven, Steve Hunter is noted as one of the guitar players. Alice sounds like a carnival barker, here. The liquid wah guitar is sprightly and sounds just right. A bit of a singalong feel. Rats takes fast chug and Detroit-inspired song if ever I heard one! Original AC members all have a role on this one. The Sound Of A brings a subtle delivery and a great moody tune with crisp guitar tones.

So now on to CD 2 and the original AC band are here in the studio for Genuine American Girl, all boomy drums and lyric on the act itself over an infectious rock tempo that reminds me of Suzi Quatro. All very knowing and a lot of fun. The same players for You And All Of Your Friends which is a speedy rocker with thunderous drummers. Alice sings in his best menacing, gruff voice. A wobbling guitar break starts, all too brief. Slide always sounds great with Cooper singing.

Next a contemporary live set. When Paul McCartney first heard No More Mr Nice Guy he confessed that he was ‘scared’ – at the strength of the composition and execution. This Columbus audience get the real deal Alice sound, vocal mixed upfront. Under My Wheels was always one of my favourite Alice tracks, such a snarly Detroit sound and he obviously relishes delivering the song. Those opening double stops still work and the song works dynamics like few others.  Billion Dollar Babies gets the full-on treatment. Not quite the vocal bite of old but an expertly spun tale. The evergeen Feed My Frankenstein is up next. The band put their weight behind the tune and it bristles with licks and emphases, tomtom runs and grinding bass. More ham than Waitrose delicatessen counter..

Only Women Bleed gets a respectful reading after a lovely 12 string intro. By this time. Cooper knows how to put it over, of course. Its chordal twists still intrigue. School’s Out retains its bite, its sense of liberation and its abundance of fun. How else could this mini-set end? School bell and all. A good set by a master of all this.

Pete Sargeant



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(Thanks Glenn Sargeant for sourcing this disc)

You can read our exclusive ’21 Reasons To Love Alice Cooper’ article here: http://bit.ly/2r3mByn

Alice Cooper’s new album ‘Paranormal’ is out now on E.A.R. Music.

For tour dates and more information visit Alice’s official website here: http://bit.ly/2r1OSc0

Alice Cooper