ALICE COOPER
"Welcome 2 My Nightmare"

(Bigger Picture)

01. I Am Made Of You
02. Caffeine
03. The Nightmare Returns
04. A Runaway Train
05. Last Man On Earth
06. The Congregation
07. I'll Bite Your Face Off
08. Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever
09. Ghouls Gone Wild
10. Something To Remember Me By
11. When Hell Comes Home
12. What Baby Wants
13. I Gotta Get Outta Here
14. The Underture

RATING: 8.5/10

What's really shocking about "Welcome 2 my Nightmare" is how much it sounds like a vintage 1970s ALICE COOPER album, which is not surprising considering the involvement of an original cast of players in Dennis Dunaway, Neil Smith, and Michael Bruce, a producer in the legendary Bob Ezrin, and even contributing writers Dick Wagner and Desmond Child, to list some of the bigger names.. While those early albums, including "Welcome to My Nightmare" had a quality that put the "shock" in shock rock, creeping out many a fan and repulsing those of a more conservative bent, the second installment succeeds more for its musicality and stout songwriting. Let's face it; what some saw as gruesome in 1975 most will find as mere ghoulish fun in 2011, which is exactly what you get with "Welcome 2 My Nightmare".

All the camp, pomp, and circumstance is here, as the man formerly known as Vincent Furnier commands center stage, serving as macabre ring leader in creating the sounds that made the 1975 "Welcome to My Nightmare" tour performances among the greatest shows on earth. The early Motor City muscle of the ALICE COOPER BAND meets mid-'70s bombast in producing an album that drips with nostalgia, yet whose modern touches keep it from sounding dated. Then again, Alice Cooper is the genuine article. Who else could record a song with — of all artists — Ke$ha ("What Baby Wants") that pops, bumps, and still ends up so fittingly Cooper? And it's not like any other artist could record songs as vibrant as the '60s pop/surf rock of "Ghouls Gone Wild" and make it sound like Eddie Cochran reincarnated after a soul-selling deal with the devil or the "Saturday Night Fever"-gone-horror of "Disco Blood Bath Boogie Fever" that is shamelessly dance-able, only to shift gears and tear the roof off with a blast of Detroit-forged, gonzo guitar rock. The album just as capably touches the heart with balladry on "Something to Remember Me By" and the stellar "I Am Made of You" and leaves undertones of uneasiness on tracks like "When Hell Comes Home" — featuring drunk-driving daddies and abused, bruise-hiding mommies — and "The Nightmare", which takes just over a minute to make its chilling point.

Alice still makes a mean bowl of rock 'n roll raucousness too and gives it a flavor recognizable as only Cooper. "Caffeine" swings, "I'll Bite Your Face Off" grooves (and still manages soulful and epic flourishes), "A Runaway Train" shuffles with upbeat energy, and standout "The Congregation" nails it at the spot where 1975 and 2011 meet. The coup de grace is a primo instrumental called "The Underture" that reinterprets various moments from the 1975 release. Take it not with a grain of salt; "Welcome 2 My Nightmare" has got it all. You see, this is not the Alice Cooper of "Special Forces", "Constrictor", or "Trash", neither is it that of "Brutal Planet", "The Eyes of Alice Cooper", or "Along Came a Spider". This is Alice Cooper circa '75 with a little more production oomph and varying levels of 21st Century shading.

One would be hard pressed to call it a "knock", but there aren't any songs destined for all-time classic status here either; you won't find anything like the title track or "Only Women Bleed" from the first "Welcome to My Nightmare" opus. And the number of people the disc will freak out in 2011 can probably be counted on two hands. It is however an album crammed with sublime songwriting and gets pretty darn close to recapturing the magic. "Welcome 2 my Nightmare" is one of the very few sequels to a classic album that doesn't tarnish a reputation or damage a legacy. Well done!

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