Alice Cooper is one of those performers whose reputation and actual music don’t really mesh, at least in my mind. His music is always tamer than I imagine it, and that’s especially true with this album, in which he goes full Bob Ezrin. (Thanks not only due to Ezrin’s participation, but also due to the disappearance of the actual band Alice Cooper. This is Alice Cooper’s first solo album.)
I don’t really know what to do with this: part of me wants to hate it and part of me wants to love it. I think that, had I encountered the record in my early 20s, I might have loved it. It’s pretty damn bombastic, and everyone involved appears to know it.
Ezrin really is the “right” producer for Alice Cooper without his band, as this is a pretty indulgent recording. Ezrin has brought along the Berlin band and Cooper, Ezrin and some of the band members have written some pretty over-the-top music, leaning fully into Cooper’s over-the-top story.
Of course, it wouldn’t be this over-the-top without Ezrin, who is in full Berlin mode, only the material Cooper and his new bandmates have written isn’t, um, up to Lou Reed’s standard.
And that’s the problem with the record, I think. Because it’s not Cooper himself, despite his story being perhaps a little too much. Cooper shows off better vocal dexterity than I thought him capable of. There were a few times I had to stop and say “Is that really Alice Cooper?!?!” Cooper the performer is not the problem, rather he’s an asset. Instead the issue is that Ezrin needs great songs to hang his ridiculous arrangements on top of. He had them on Berlin and he would get them again with The Wall. But here the songs just aren’t good enough and it comes off as pure camp, despite the content of the lyrics.