Alice Cooper - 'Paranormal'

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Alice Cooper - 'Paranormal'

This is a really good album, his best for some time, and it gets better the more you listen to it.

It's six years since the last Alice Cooper album, and I was only saying earlier this year how it had been a while. After this hiatus, what has Cooper presented to us? It's a double disc set, with no concept and every song being a standalone offering, with the exciting part being that it sees the reformation of the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper Band who got together and recorded a couple of songs. It also sees the return of Bob Ezrin to the producer's chair. Talk about turning the clock back!

The album also features Billy Gibbons, Larry Mullen (playing the majority of the drums), Cooper's touring guitarists, Tommy Henriksen, Roger Glover, Tommy Denander and Ezrin, all of whom also co-write.

The opening title track makes for a really powerful start with some nice guitar work which, for some reason, made me think of 'Brutal Planet' whilst not actually sounding like anything from that record. 'Dead Flies' is less than three minutes long and goes right back to the seventies, as does 'Fireball' which is topical as it's about a dream of Armageddon becoming reality. Cooper's vocals sound like he's using an old BBC microphone which sadly means that his voice gets somewhat lost in the mix. 'Paranoic Personality' is very much from the 'Welcome To My Nightmare' drawer, while 'Fallen In Love' reminds me of Deep Purple's 'Black Night'.

Cooper relates the story of 'Dynamite Road' (another short track) rather than singing it, and it's about a touring band's encounter with the devil. The "show time" song on here is 'Holy Water', which also has the addition of brass, and creates a vivid picture of showgirls high-stepping across the stage. 'Rats' is short and energetic, and may put your teeth on edge at the beginning if you don't like the creatures. 'The Sound Of A' is a really intriguing song, and to me is a cross between Pink Floyd and John Lennon, where Cooper's voice displays a strong sense of the late Beatles legend – I really like it (check out who co-wrote it!).

Disc two has live versions of Cooper favourites, including 'No More Mr. Nice Guy', 'Under My Wheels', 'Billion Dollar Babies' and obviously 'School's Out'. However, the first two tracks on here feature the original guys – Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith and Michael Bruce – back alongside their old cohort after many, many years. They give us 'Genuine American Girl' and 'You And All Of Your Friends', the latter is apparently inspired by The Who but still sounds very Alice Cooper. The guys also guest on tracks on the main album which shows that there is life in the old dog (i.e. The Alice Cooper Band) yet; hopefully, they will have another go at this on record in the future. They will, however, all be touring the UK in November for the first time since 1973.

This is a really good album, his best for some time, and it gets better the more you listen to it. If the intention was to return to the sound that made them famous in the first place, then I would say he has succeeded, even before you factor in the bonus of his old mates (also, many thanks to Isabelle (earMUSIC) and Chris (Outside) for their help with this).

Andy Brailsford

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