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Alice Cooper

Detroit Stories

earMUSIC

Mar 08, 2021 Bookmark and Share


To press play on Alice Cooper’s new LP, Detroit Stories, is to get a blood transfusion. Instead of the red stuff, you’re now filled with slick motor oil. To continue the transformation, your heart is removed and an eight-cylinder engine is put in its place. Your heads turn to bright headlights and your voice becomes a gravely, rumbling tone. You are part human, part machine now. Alice Cooper has taken over you and damn does it feel good.

The new 15-track record—Cooper’s first since 2017—begins with the guttural “Rock & Roll.” Of course! For Cooper, everything begins with rock. When he was just starting out, Cooper decided the music needed a villain and he was not shy about providing it. On the opening song on the new album (Cooper’s 28th, or so, depending how you count), he growls. While the music has a timeless sense to it—rock is rock is rock, after all—it is hard not to be impressed by the verve and power Cooper has maintained and offers again with his gritty voice. “Go Man Go” is the next track. The song is reminiscent of the Ramones, or another speedy punk band. The song tells stories about odd people Cooper may have met on the bleak streets of the Motor City in his youth.

“Our Love Will Change the World” follows and immediately we find ourselves in the British Invasion of the ’60s. It’s almost like The Beatles’ “Getting Better” but the lyrics for the song are subversive, not pop pretty (what else would you expect?). The LP’s fourth song, “Social Debris,” showcases Cooper’s signature swagger. You can imagine him with a whip under his arm and a snarl on his lips as he sings. “$1000 High Heel Shoes” is up next. It is a doo-wop with an electric guitar spine that leads well into the sixth track, the guitar-lead heavy, “Hail Mary.” We are now in the eye of the storm of the record. Distortion, big drums, and heavy bass are our guiding lights. “Detroit City 2021” crystalizes this vibe with shout outs to MC5 and other Detroit legends.

With the eighth song, “Drunk and in Love,” we enter Bluesville. It is a slow, heavy groove. Cooper sings about being drunk and “falling” in love (or over himself). But the vibe is irrepressible. He knows exactly how to ride the beat and engender sympathy. Suddenly, with the next song, “Independence Dave,” we are jolted back to the fast-paced revving of Cooper’s rock prowess. We are a giant stack of amps, we’re shaking, rattling and rolling. Not to be outdone, “I Hate You,” follows and immediately our ears are met with suspense. A big lead-up climaxes like a jolt of lighting. But then we take a left turn with goofy lyrics of faux hatred. It is a smile and a shout before we kick off the album’s final third.

The record’s eleventh track, “Wonderful World,” seems like Cooper has left the stage and come back after a quick shower and hit of acid. We are about to slip into a nightmare and Cooper leads the way. Next, “Sister Anne,” is the rousing from that feted slumber. In a way, it is the song that sums up the record and Cooper’s career in total. We are in the middle of a dichotomy. A halo and Satan. The Ten Commandments and tattoos. Best to move on before we’re torn in two! “Don’t Give Up” is almost a nod to the ’90s music. It’s part-Weezer, part-pick-me-up. Cooper offers us a bit of advice amidst this tumultuous era (“We’re all hanging on by a thread,” he reminds listeners). The album’s penultimate song, “Shut Up and Rock,” reminds us to do something else. Just in case we forgot about the main message of the album, we are right back to it. We had one rule on this ride: freaking ROCK. Okay, Alice! And then we finally meet the end of the road: the record’s final song, “East Side Story.” The song is, in a way, the most unique on the album. It is somehow outside of the other 14. Less traditional Detroit rock and more something new. Maybe it is a clue to what Cooper’s next record will sound like. More haunting, more outside of genre. But as the song concludes, you have a choice: go back to your normal life or put it on again and go for another ride. (www.alicecooper.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Kenny
June 19th 2021
6:11am

The song is reminiscent of the Ramones, or another speedy punk band. The song tells stories about odd people Cooper may have met on the bleak streets of the Motor City in his youth.

- Cement Contractor

Kim
September 12th 2021
3:27am

The song tells stories about odd people Cooper may have met on the bleak streets of the Motor City in his youth. Oakland Hood Cleaning