Detroit Stories – Alice Cooper
If nothing else, 2021 promises comebacks for several legends of hard rock. Already, Kiss frontman Paul Stanley has threatened us with an album of soul covers, while Slash has teased new music from Guns N’ Roses this year, which based on their track record means we can expect to enjoy it in 2035. First though, we have the new LP from golf enthusiast, born-again Christian and Freddy Krueger’s foster dad: Alice Cooper.
This year also marks a half-century since Alice Cooper (back when he was a band) first found fame in Detroit, after moving from Los Angeles – where the hippie crowds “just didn’t get it” – and teaming up with producer Bob Ezrin for their breakthrough album Love It To Death. 50 years and countless collaborations later, Cooper and Ezrin pay homage to the city that first embraced the groups’s shock rock stage antics without freaking out over stories involving livestock and ouija boards.
Opening with the familiar strains of Rock and Roll by The Velvet Underground as covered by the band Detroit, Detroit Stories drives through some of the musical styles made famous by the Motor City. We get punk on Go Man Go, blues on Drunk And In Love (where Cooper plays the harmonica) and soul on $1000 High Heel Shoes, featuring the Motor City Horns and Sister Sledge on backing vocals.
The core ensemble is Detroit rock royalty, including MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer and The Detroit Wheels drummer Johnny “Bee” Badanjek, with guest appearances from U2’s Larry Mullen, Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner and vocal contributions from Cooper’s wife and daughter Sheryl and Calico. Having celebrated his 73rd birthday this month, Cooper’s raspy voice sounds so unchanged since the 70s that one half expects Gwyneth Paltrow to start extolling the virtues of chicken’s blood.
Cooper and co cover MC5 (Sister Anne), Bob Seger (East Side Story) and the man himself (Detroit City 2021), because he’s nothing if not self-referential. The original Alice Cooper group are reunited on a couple of self-deprecating numbers, Social Debris and I Hate You (“I hate you, your spider eyes / a guillotine, oh big surprise!”), reclaiming the criticism they faced before finding acceptance on the Michigan scene alongside The Stooges and MC5.
There are no surprises on Detroit Stories, unless you count the sincere suicide prevention hotline advert Don’t Give Up. The song Our Love Will Change The World is downright plain, but it delivers a merry, motoring tribute to the city where Alice Cooper (the man) was born and Alice Cooper (the band) was born again. Compared to his peak it’s inessential, but compared to Paul Stanley’s Soul Station it’s incredible.
Photo: Phil King
is released on 26th February 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Detroit Stories – Alice Cooper’s website here.
Watch the video for the single here: