After Alice Cooper released the sequel to his most famous solo record, Welcome To My Nightmare (1975) entitled Welcome 2 My Nightmare back in 2011, my hope was that it be followed up by a tour. One that also included the original surviving members of Alice Cooper (1969-1974). Reason being because they were including on the album. Three different tracks. But that never happened. Instead Alice toured like he’s done since separating from the original members of Alice Cooper, with his own band.
In my opinion, the three strongest tracks on Nightmare 2, was the ones written and performed by the surviving founding members of Alice Cooper (RIP Glen Buxton), and performed again as a group. Their first time doing so since 1974’s Muscle Of Love. And not that the rest of Welcome 2 My Nightmare sucked. The track, I Am Made Of You, contains some excellent guitar work by Steve Hunter, and is one of the best solo tracks in my opinion that Alice has done in ages. The album was touched on live, and that’s about it. Next came talk of a covers record, in which quite frankly I really wasn’t that excited about.
Not until it expanded / grew into what we have today. The debut album of; The Hollywood Vampires. The Hollywood Vampires self titled record that came out last September, is very much a Alice Cooper project. Produced by long time associate; Bob Ezrin. The same man who dared recently to voice aloud what I thought was constructive criticism of rap music’s, Kanye West. Of course that flew over like a lead balloon, as one would expect by Mister Kardashian, and his homies. Bob Ezrin who was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame twelve years ago, is also a songwriter, and plays the piano / keyboards extremely well.
On the Hollywood Vampires album, Mr. Ezrin plays keyboards / piano, gets partial writing credit for three tracks, does backing vocals, is credited as producer, and also gets partial credit again, this time for helping mix the recordings. A studio wizard, contrary to Kanye West who just appears to wiz (slang for the word; piss) all over whatever production he’s a part of. The idea for this concept album originated from what lyricist Bernie Taupin labeled a; “drinking fraternity”. A bunch of famous guys who putting their celebrity aside, would meet up to see who could out drink one another.
A game usually won by heavy drinkers / alcoholics. Not all mentioned in this tribute to their memories died because of it. The Beatles John Lennon for example was assassinated by a crazed fanatic on the 8th of December in 1980. Rumor had it back in the day, John was a sloppy drunk. Likewise myself on many occassions, way back when. Still, if not for the asshole who shot him, John Lennon might be still alive today. For some of us clean up our act before it’s too late, while others unfortunately don’t. I loss my Mother due to her drinking, when I was seven years old.
You’d think I know better, yet I went through and survived the DT’s, back when I was just twenty four. Made me learn to respect the bottle, and of course it’s contents. Uncle G Reviews … The Hollywood Vampires (self titled debut album) Starts off with a very cool spoken word track entitled ‘The Last Vampire’, by the late actor; Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015). Both Johnny Depp (guitarist for The Hollywood Vampires), and Alice Cooper worked with him in the Dark Shadows film they did together back in 2012. One of my all time favorite movie actors.
His work alone with Hammer Studios is just simply outstanding. Who else but he could take the role of Dracula made famous by Bela Lugosi, and profitably make it his own? Next we get one of two original songs on the Hollywood Vampires album, called; Raise The Dead. Helps set the tone for everything that follows. Here’s the first track one gets to hear actor / musician Johnny Depp play guitar, and do backing vocals. That to me was a curiosity.
My good friend Charles Zittle (drummer for Generation:landslide) informed me before I really dug into this release that Mr. Depp is actually quite a skilled guitarist, and was into playing guitar before becoming famous for his Hollywood roles. News to me. Listening to this album, I found what Charles told me, very much on the money. Unlike a guitarist who use to be in his band, that I found out was full of shit, up to his ears. So easy to let those people go. Next comes eleven tracks of not just cover songs, but songs that speak the name for whom they were picked. Every track is enjoyable to listen to. Some rock harder than others. Most of the songs picked, people will recognize pretty quickly.
Here’s a few highlights: 01. ) My Generation: Having The Who’s drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son) playing drums on this track, is icing on the cake here. Always been one of my favorite Who songs. The song’s a nod to Keith Moon (1948 – 1978), who was a Hollywood Vampire back in the day. 02. ) Whole Lotta Love: I always dug Alice’s harmonica playing, and if you do too, then you’ll seriously dig this track. Also joining Alice on vocals is former AC/DC singer, Brian Johnson. Has five guitar players, and again we have Zak Starkey pounding the skins. On bass, Kip Winger.
All involved make it one of the coolest covers, being that it’s not an exact copy of the original. 03) Come And Get It: Written by the Beatles Paul McCartney, and made a hit by the band Badfinger. Released in the States in 1970, it charted on Billboard’s Top 10. This version is nothing short of being blessed, having Sir Paul’s participation; vocals, bass, and piano. Sharing guitar duties; Johnny Depp and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. On drums, the very talented, Abe Laboriel Jr (Sir Paul’s regular drummer). Hollywood Vampires producer Bob Ezrin joins in on backing vocals.
Worth repeat plays for sure. 04. Jeepster: A fun rocker credited to Hollywood Vampire Marc Bolan (1947 – 1977), and made a hit by the band, T Rex. Includes a standout performance by singer Alice Cooper, who shines throughout the album. Another feather in the cap for the long time musician. Already inducted in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland Ohio) for his work with the original Alice Cooper band, I say it’s about time he was acknowledged for his solo work. Should be just a matter of time before we see him on the ballot again. 05. ) School’s Out / Another Brick In The Wall part 2: Amazing how closely School’s Out sounds like the original.
Seeing how aging didn’t change anything, we have three other people who participated on the 1972 hit School’s Out, involved here; Dennis Dunaway (bass), Neal Smith (drums), and producer Bob Ezrin, who helps out here musically along with Kip Winger doing backing vocals. A tribute to Glen Buxton, original lead guitarist for Alice Cooper who passed away back in 1997. Noticeably absent from participating on this Alice Cooper group reunion; Michael Bruce. Main songwriter, rhythm guitarist, and keyboardist for the band. Still very much alive, and who recently came out retirement debuting his new band; Michael Bruce Force.
Note, I believe it’s Michael that is referred to in the last page on the Hollywood Vampires booklet that comes with the CD. It’s reads; “Mike Bruce”. Those who know Michael, know that he seriously dislikes being called, Mike. So perhaps a typo, or maybe it’s another person entirely? Regardless, nice to at least hear Mr. Dunaway, and Mr. Smith on a record that includes Alice again. Pink Floyd’s mega hit ‘Another Brick In The Wall part 2’, gels perfectly with School’s Out. Alice has been including the mix in his live show for some time now. A natural to appear on this record. Guitarists include Slash, a long time Alice Cooper fan.