Alice Cooper, that grand ghoul of rock, has never been one to repeat himself. With his latest album, The Eyes of Alice Cooper, he has eschewed the industrial sound and heavy theming of his past two albums in favor of the raw, rough rock of his live shows. Appropriately written and recorded with his touring band of the last few years it’s evident from the explosive opening track to the final grinding buzz that this old man’s feet are far from the grave.
To capture the live synergy that this band has achieved through hours of stage time, producer Mudrock (Godsmack and Powerman 5000) recorded the band live in an empty practice space with minimal overdubs. The result is quite amazing, almost a return to his early punkish days in Detroit, albeit mixed with an updated sound and huge, modern guitars. This very theme is encapsulated in the song “Detroit City,” where Alice sings with great passion about the days when “Me and Iggy were giggin’ with Ziggy” against a big, rollicking rock rhythm rounded out with sax and MC5’s Wayne Kramer adding to a guitar duel. The only spooky song is “This House Is Haunted” which is merely slightly creepy and similar in feel to the “Mirror” song in the cult classic direct-to-video Monsterdog. Instead of horror, Cooper relies heavily on his familiar dark humor which is laced through nearly every song. “Man of the Year” is a rock anthem about a guy who has it all (“My urine tests are perfect / My prostate is a jewel”) until he puts gun to head. The cute “The Song That Didn’t Rhyme,” with an intentionally poorly played drum intro, takes jabs at radio and the music industry. Although the song tends to lean more towards novelty (and I’m deeply offended by the use of accordions on this track), there’s something catchy about Alice singing a hooky chorus of “The melody blows.”
The only other low point is the obligatory sappy ballad “Be With You Awhile” which is horribly out of place with the rest of these noisy garage band masterpieces. Opening with a Rutles-ish basterdization of the opening riff of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” “Between High School & Old School” is impressive with its endless energy and massive guitars. I once heard that his 90's hit “Poison” was very popular with strippers, and I can imagine that his new single, the Stones-tinged “Novocaine,” with its theme of “I’m numb and you can’t make me feel,” will find a similar audience. The album ends with two raunchy punk songs that push the boundaries of good taste, just like an aging Alice in a codpiece.
It’s amazing how Cooper is able to continually evolve and pack a
massive punch, surprising even a hard-core geezer fan like myself.
Fans of the recent crop of “hot” bands like the Vines, the Strokes,
or The White Stripes should do themselves a favor and hear the source
of their bands’ sound. Everyone else should stop whining and buy
this album so Alice can afford to bribe his way back into the AARP.