I am so fucking slow on the uptake these days that I didn’t even realize Alice Cooper just released a new album. Not that Cooper’s recent releases have been the milestones in rock they once were, but I always kind of liked how he kept with the times, incorporating trendy elements into trademark Alice rock. We had Hairband-Alice (Trash), Grunge-Alice (The Last Temptation), and Industrial-Alice (Brutal Planet). What a chameleon, huh? Usually I hate bands and artists who turn their coats in the winds, but Alice always did it with some credibility intact. Enough with the history lesson.
To fully get the total Alice experience, I decide to review the CD, Dirty Diamonds, in the car. The car in question is a Gay As Fuck-Mobile (Nissan Quest), but it’s got a kick ass 16-speaker Bose system, so I’m all set.
Only thing is, I have the whole family with me; the crazy wife, the spoiled brat and the senile grandmother in law. We’re a traveling freak show, perfect for the CD in question. After having acquired it at Best Buy we roll out into the slow-motion parking lot that is US19 during rush hour. All the more time to fully investigate the album of the hour.
First song kicks in, “Women of Mass Distraction”, and I’m not impressed. B (my wife) thinks it rocks, doing all the gay head bobbing she can, and the kid is howling “We need mass destruction” out the window. What I don’t like is how un-tight the rhythm section is. The drums sound like something Peter Criss would whip up in a drum-off with Rick Allen. The bass is not exactly on the ball either. Not good, and the off rhythms choke the song. But the family is rocking out, so what the hell do I know? Very 70’s hard rock Alice with a catchy chorus.
Second song, “Perfect”, and this is more like it! Damn! This is vintage Alice at his absolute best. This cool rocker track blows Ziggy Stardust out of the water. This could have been the best track on ANY of Alice’s old classic album. Yes, it’s that good. The crazy ones in the backseat concur. Grandma says “What?”, and I’ll take that as a “Kick ass, man!”
“You make me wanna” is another sing along with an opening riff that would have made Kiss cream their spacesuits back in the day. “Grande Rock” era Hellacopters-sounding to the new kids I guess, but what the fuck do they know? Very fat verse with a pop rocking “oh-oh-oh” chorus. I look in the rearview mirror and the kid is flying around like she had some kind of mental disorder I should probably medicate. That means she likes it. B is grinning, so she’s cool too…
“Dirty Diamonds” kicks off with something that sounds like a music workshop at the local asylum, lunatic flute opus in crazy-minor, only to launch into a sexy groove. This is like the soundtrack to one of those road movies, where the hero is driving all night, going slightly insane, having crazy flashbacks or something. Fucking great! This too, could have been on an old Alice album from the 70’s. By the way… The rhythm section has stepped up their game since the first track. Maybe they were just high as fuck?
And now, here it is… the most fantastic song on the album. “The Saga Of Jesse Jane”. Not necessarily a classic Alice song from a musical perspective, but definitely so from a lyrical point of view. Both me and B burst out laughing like silly hyenas, and the kid shoots milkshake out her nose all over grandma. Funny fucking lyrics about a guy killing another guy, dressed in his sister’s wedding gown. It’s like Zappa’s “Bobby Brown” if it would have been made for a Tarrantino film. Love it. Then again, I’m nuts.
What is so great with this album is that every song screams instant classic, and I think most people could hum the songs after first listen. They’re catchy with hooky riffs and even hookier in mouth lyrics. “Sunset babies (All got rabies)” is another one of those. It sounds like I already have heard it a thousand times, but in a good way. A cool blues riff with a killer chorus. I don’t want this fucking album to end. Ryan Roxie is the main guitarist on this album by the way, and he really brings an earthy tone to the songs, creating that real old school vibe that these songs crave. Good job, kid.
No Alice album is complete without the obligatory crazy ballad. Alice used to showcase his truly sick side when he slowed things down and sang softly about “I love the dead”, “Only women bleed” and “Welcome to my nightmare”. Hell, “Gail” off Raise your fist and yell comes to mind as well… This is “Pretty Ballerina”, and it ranks with all the aforementioned songs. Really cool melody over harpsichord and some goddamn flute or something. It has that nightmarish lullaby sound to it, and at the same time captures a rock sound that runs through this CD like a red river.
“Run down the devil” is a dark spooky track with a feverish pulse that opens up in the chorus with excellent harmonies, while the riff stays static. Very cool. Not my favorite, but a hell of a lot better than anything he has put out on record in over 20 years… hell, 30 years… I am psyched and my family is a bunch of psychos. They all love this song, but still hold “Perfect” as number one so far.
Another 70’s anthem comes a-rockin’ out the speakers; “Steal that car”. This has that “School’s Out” trademark sound to it, that just makes you wanna roll down your window and scream it to the guy parked in the left lane next to you. “Steeeaaaaal that caaaaaar, duuuude!” – And he looks at you and tries to escape over the divider before this crazy tattooed fuck draws a gun on him or something. Oh, well… No appreciation for the finer arts.
Time to slow things down again. “Six hours” is a loungey Twin Peaks sounding Alice ballad, with a sad piano accentuating steel strumming guitars. The solo is very melancholic and brings to mind the lonely barfly, drinking his sorrows away. I have no idea if that’s what the song is really about, because I never listen to lyrics, but that’s what I got. Fucking sue me…
The riffs really stand out on “Dirty Diamonds”. Every song has a definite guitar fingerprint that so many bands forget the importance of these days. Writing memorable riffs is a lost art form, but here they shine with their musical omnipresence. “Own worst enemy” is the only track so far I would consider a filler. It’s not bad at all, but it’s not great, and there is an annoying Andrew WK quality to that one single piano key being repeatedly hit during the chorus. Not bad, just not great either…
“Zombie Dance” is cool. Very saucy, almost jazzy… Like a slow stroll in the cemetery with a French hooker at midnight. The moon is full, necrophilia is in the air… (HA! I just realized, when reading the booklet, that the lyrics actually deal with a walk through the graveyard, so I guess I rock at interpreting musical messages, without listening to the lyrics. I should start some kind of business and make money on this shit. Maybe I can make sense of “In a gadda da vida” and “Stairway to heaven” too?)
Last track is a “bonus track”. I hate bonus tracks. They should be outlawed. It’s not like I can NOT listen to it as it pops out at the end. In this particular case it’s a fucking Alice rap, featuring “pimp-my-ride” guy Xzibit. Is there maybe some kind of Alice sound to this garbage that saves it? Maybe if you’re smoking crack at the same time. I don’t know. This was fucking unnecessary, and together with the slushy choking rhythms of track one, it’s takes half a point off the end result.
All in all, an excellent Alice album, easily as good as the old classics. I love it, the family loves it, grandma says “What?”, and I will take that as “Alice is the real motherfucking deal, brutha!”. Thanks grandma…