REVIEW: Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)

Alright folks, dig in, I plan to get as detailed as possible as to the different bonus tracks and versions.  Enjoy.

I make a point of trying to collect all the different bonus tracks for an album, if I really like it.  For this review, we’ll be taking a look at the contents of the Classic Rock Fan Pack edition, the Canadian retail version, the Best Buy version, the iTunes version, and the vinyl.

 

ALICE COOPER – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)

At long last, we have Welcome 2 My Nightmare. Yes, it really does harken back to the Alice Cooper sound of old. Yes, you can definitely tell when members of the original band are involved. Yes, these songs are very diverse.

In fact Alice’s sounds from many eras are revisited: disco Alice, rocker Alice, campy showtunes Alice, a slight nod and a wink to the stone ages and some Zappa-like inspiration. There’s even surf-rock in “Ghouls Gone Wild”, and elsewhere, a Kip Winger cameo. Unfortunately there also a bit of a modern touch: an unfortunate cameo by the talentless Kesha.

Regardless, Alice and Ezrin (let’s give credit where credit is due, Ezrin is the George Martin of this album) have created here a modern masterpiece, a great record to cap Alice’s modern career with one more undenialble winner. Welcome 2 My Nightmare contains a few musical interludes and clues from the first Nightmare, particurly “Steven”, but it’s mostly it’s own beast. It is surprisingly listener-friendly, very melodic and 70’s sounding with plenty of instrumentation and production value.

The prime influence here seems to be sounds of the past, and that’s fine with me. Alice knows what he’s doing and sneers his way through these snappy numbers. Everything builds and changes and builds again, each song is constructed masterfully. Alice and Ezrin have a clear plot in mind. Don’t forget these are the guys who did “Gutter Cat Vs. The Jets” back in 1972.

My favourite tune: The Tom Waits-ish “The Last Man on Earth”, a 1930’s sounding showtune-esque classic, along the lines of Alice’s previous song “Crazy Little Child” from Muscle of Love.

Second favourite: “The Underture”, which reprises the greatest musical anthems from both Nightmare albums in one grandios outro.

One really important thing I want to mention: This is the most fun Alice Cooper has been in while. Welcome 2 has humour and the musical chops to make the album a fun listen from start to back. Whether you like albums such as Brutal Planet or Along Came A Spider is not really the issue.  They’re just not albums to make you chuckle along while you snap your fingers. Welcome 2 My Nightmare, like the original Nightmare from 1975, is a lot more fun.

And now, for the collectors, a word about bonus tracks and the versions you’ll find them on.  Clickity-click for bigger pictures.

   

On the LP you will find the exclusive bonus track called “Flatline”.  I will say though, this Cooper platter really is one to own on vinyl. The sounds are rich and deep. The packaging is gorgeous, gatefold sleeve and nice big booket and all.

“Flatline” is a little staggering, though. Alice did not write it and does not perform on it.  It should best be considered a Bob Ezrin construction.  It consists of the sound of a hospital heart monitor beeping and flatlining for 3 minutes and 30 seconds, with electronic sounds and music in the background. Yet if you are into the concept of concept albums, this song might be a must-own.  It seems to conclusively answer the disposition of the album’s main character. His fate, left somewhat ambiguous in the final vocal song, “I Gotta Get Out Of Here”, is sealed.

(Oh!  And I love that titles such as “I Gotta Get Out Of Here” refer back to earlier Alice nightmare-esque characters such as Dwight Fry.)

The Canadian standard retail edition is full of excellent bonus tracks.  You get three live tunes, all recently performed:  “Poison”, “The Black Widow”, and “No More Mr. Nice Guy” are from the Download Festival.

“Under The Bed”, is also on the Canadian edition, and it is a studio original.  It is an excellent song that would have fit seamlessly right near the start of the story, lyrically and musically. Great song. Don’t know why it’s not in the main body of the album.

While collecting online, I found tracklistings that seemed to indicate that the US Best Buy edition had different bonus tracks.  It does not.  I mistakenly purchased it myself.  The only difference between it and the Canadian edition is a Best Buy sticker on the wrapper, advertizing the bonus tracks.  Therefore US readers, you can get these valuable extra songs at Best Buy.

iTunes, of course, has its own bonus tracks, forcing me to buy the album again.  One is the video for “I’ll Bite Your Face Off”, a good performance-style video.  Its only flaw is that it was filmed before the lovely Orianthi joined the band.

iTunes also has two exclusive studio songs.  “A Bad Situation” sees Alice singing in an exagerrated Elvis Presley type-voice, but the song is a pretty straightforward rock track.  According to Alice, a bad situation would be the nightmare of working 9-5 every day in the same day job.  That’s how this song would have fit into the concept of Nightmare.

“We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” is a cover of The Animals classic, recorded specifically to be a bonus tracks, also on the iTunes version.

ITunes has a 25 minute audio dialogue with Alice Cooper as a final bonus track.  This worthwhile listen has Alice discussing all the songs, their makings, and meanings.  Very cool bonus feature.

Lastly, we have the Classic Rock Fan Pack.  Click to embiggen.

             

The Fan Pack was a pain in the ass to buy and I do not at all recommend the experience to anyone.  It was something like a month late and they were impossible to communicate with.

But you get one of those cool 132 page full colour magazines, including interviews with everybody from Ezrin to Kip Winger to Kane Roberts.  You get posters.  You get a cutout Alice Cooper mask (yippee?).  You get a little metal School’s Out badge.  (No idea why not a Nightmare badge but oh well.)  And lastly, Alice Cooper face paint, that will no doubt be cracked and dried when you open it.

For the album:

5/5 stars

3 comments

Rock a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s