Artist: Alice Cooper
Album: Detroit Stories
Produced by Bob Ezrin
HOTLINE TO THE UNDERGROUND
from the long awaited book The Rock and Roll Animal Tour
In these days when the extended-play (E.P.) is more in vogue, Alice Cooper delivers 15 tracks, an album and a half back in the old days, which is nice and creative. So it is fitting that long-time Cooper guitarist Steve Hunter – who gave a Leslie West twist to Lou Reed’s immortal theme to a genre – “Rock ‘n’ Roll” – returns after Mitch Ryder’s Detroit album spawned The Reed/Bob Ezrin masterpiece that was Berlin and one of the great rock tours of all time, the Rock and Roll Animal Tour. And, of course, Alice obtaining that great group of musicians (for the most part gutiarists Hunter and Dick Wagner with Penti “Whitey” Glan on drums,) pays tribute here to the classic arrangement that brought it all together. Give a listen to the classic The Alice Cooper Show(Las Vegas at the Aladdin Hotel on August 19 and 20, 1977,) four years after Reed’s live album, it is truly Part 2 to that original Rock and Roll Animal album from Lou. This 2021 version has Bob Ezrin on cowbell. Nice. “Mississippi Queen” indeed!
Track 3, “Our Love Will Change The World” is one of the most complete and fun tracks, which is hard to say with so many delights on the platter, but it is Alice Cooper reinvention. It is pop derived from Speedy Keen and so many others. A superb march that stomps politically. Where Alvin Lee would have loved to have changed the world, the Coop is more assertive with a solution rather than a wish.
“Social Debris” is rocks with nobility, especially in the guitar solos with a Killer album feel. Not only Killer album, some Billion Dollar Babies too, songwriters Neal Smith, Bob Ezrin and Alice go back to the future with this one, and it’s lots of fun. Michael Bruce, Smith and Dennis Dunaway return and we’re glad they’re back rocking with new energy and new friends. $1,000.00 High Heel Shoes gets an honorable mention, you see, there’s so much to absorb on this disc from attitude (“Don’t Give Up” later on in the disc is amazing, ) that it would take hours to say all this critic would like to express about this project. So let’s address what we can and keep the review fun too.
“Wonderful World” might intrigue you as an Ozzy Osbourne cover of Herman’s Hermits or Sam Cooke, but it’s an original and it works. “Sister Anne” isn’t related to Sister Chen in the David Koepp/Joseph Gordon-Leavitt film Premium Rush, nor Lou Reed’s highly decadent “Sister Ray” – she seems more like a renegade nun with a riff leaning more towards Reed’s “Cycle Annie” days. Written by Fred “Sonic” Smith for the High Time MC5 album, it’s a terrific, respectful and a beautiful rocking dance rendition that cooks.
It’s the credits that will dizzy and distract for long-time Cooper / Wayne Kramer / Steve Hunter / Mark Farner / Joe Bonamassa / Sister Sledge fans, Alice co-writing most of the material except that from Bob Seger, Lou Reed and Fred Smith.
Drunk and In Love should become a fan favorite with its slinky slithering through the grooves. “Independence Dave” confirms that this is a guitar party album and it must’ve been as much fun to play on as to listen to. Ezrin goes back to the speaker-breaking days of yore
The original Alice Cooper Group come roaring back like a punk band with “I Hate You” while the contemporary “Shut Up and Rock” sounds anything but, dipping into different decades of the genre as the party continues. Seger’s “East Side Story” with Mark Farner and Wayne Kramer on guitars and backing vocals is a nice bookend to album opener, Reed’s “Rock n’ Roll” by way of Mitch Ryder. I believe the Ryder Detroit album was Bob Ezrin’s first and is a major collector’s item. The thread of Mitch, Lou and Alice was never expressed in rock circles the way Lou, Iggy and Bowie were, but they present an ever influencing undercurrent of that pioneering sound and time in the genre and Detroit Stories – the album – chronicles, re -presents and expands the magic in a way that will satisfy listeners old and new.
For those who read my recent review of Whoosh by Deep Purple in these pages, Mr. Ezrin is the celebrated producer on that wonderful set of recordings as well. This disc also comes with a live DVD and some Cooper classics, but let’s concentrate on the music first because there’s a lot of it.