Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review - Alice Cooper - Along Came A Spider

A quick check of my dork-database reveals that I gave it an 8 so this is yet another album that I need to revisit. I remember it being good, actually being pretty durned good, but not spectacular.

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After a largely bloodless last outing (Dirty Diamonds) the grand ghoul has returned to his splatter roots with Along Came A Spider, a concept album concerning a serial killer who “artfully” removes a leg from each victim in order to construct a human spider. In constructing this album Cooper digs deep into his past, plucking the best of his solo repertoire to create a truly creepy listening experience.

The grue begins with a narrator introducing the character of Spider (or is it Steven as the Epilogue states?) and ripping into “I Know Where You Live,” a gritty Detroit rock song that expertly infuses elements of his new wave albums (Flush The Fashion, in particular) into the verse with only drums and vocal. Immediately following is one of the heaviest songs, “Vengeance is Mine,” which is crammed with massive metal guitars and an insane guitar solo the likes of which you rarely hear these days. If you liked Raise Your Fist and Yell this is the song for you. Then Coop goes off the deep end with “Wake The Dead”, weaving a snaky vocal line around a lean fuzz guitar and a slippery bass (think “Come Together” on Red Bull). Bring in the muted harmonica and suddenly you’re back to Zappa-era Cooper, though less experimental. More traditional songwriting makes the rocky “Catch Me If You Can” a delightful first person song from the inside (ahem) of the head of a serial killer. “(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side” would have fit seamlessly on the last album, being the moderately raw Detroit rocker that it is, as would “Wrapped in Silk” with its classic guitar tones and sinister detailing of the killers modus operandi.

“Killed By Love” could have been culled from the Lace & Whiskey sessions, a nice ballad that manages to avoid becoming mired in syrup. Hints of disco, falsetto backing vocals and a pervading chorus of “Gimme gimme gimme gimme something to chew / Something soft and tender / How ‘bout you?” make “I’m Hungry” more than a bit off-center, though in a tasty, ear-catching way. “The One That Got Away” opens with “You look like you’d fit in the trunk of my car / I might let you live / I might go too far”, a perfect example of the lyrics that teeter between tongue in cheek and perversity. This song is classic Cooper, detailing how Spider falls in love with this should-be victim, leading the way to “Salvation” where he questions “What have I done? / Did I waste a life just for fun? / What did I do? / I did what voices told me to.” It’s a grand anthem of a song full of the kind of orchestral flourishes that made Welcome To My Nightmare so immense in scope, leading to the epilogue which is full of chilling strings and weird guitar effects that are downright spooky.

Along Came A Spider, with it’s blend of humor and horror, is an album only Alice Cooper could have made. Without a weak song in the batch this one is highly recommended it to all sick things.

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