REVIEW: Hollywood Vampires – Rise (2019 3 CD Japanese edition) Part 1

Part one of a two part review


HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES – Rise (2019 Edel Japanese edition) – Disc 1

The first Hollywood Vampires was a covers album with a few originals.  The second is an originals album with a few covers!  It’s a little strange and kind of sounds exactly how you think it would.  Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, Johnny Depp and pals obviously set out to have fun, which is audible, but there’s also a weird bent that runs through.  Interestingly some of the best songs are the ones that sound like Aerosmith riffs, done up far better than Aerosmith would have lately.

At the outset, the Aerosmith flavour dominates the stew that is “I Want My Now”.  It’s “Draw The Line” meets Alice Cooper.  You can hear what it would have been like with Joey Kramer on drums, Tom Hamilton on bass and Steven Tyler shrieking up front, but instead it’s Alice, who has had a much more consistent output of late than Aerosmith.  In other words, Perry’s riffs are in good hands and the guy deserves to have a lil’ fun.  His guitar work has the looseness that Aerosmith shed years ago.

“Who’s Laughing Now” is psychedelic Alice, which could be the Depp influence. It’s a really good tune accented by 8-string bass (by Tommy Henriksen) and Joe Perry’s unmistakable guitar expertise. It’s also bookended by two weird instrumentals that appear to be Depp creations. Unfortunately all this lead-up ends at the slow and stodgy “The Boogieman Surprise”, probably the weakest tune. This starts a lull. A farcicle “Welcome to Bushwackers”, featuring Jeff Beck, is a token hillbilly country tune that doesn’t live up to its promise. The highlight, obviously, is Jeff Beck.

Course is corrected on Joe Perry’s lead vocal, a surprising “You Can’t Put Your Arm Around A Memory”, the Johnny Thunders song previously covered by Duff McKagan. Joe’s version is poignant and wise. “Git From Round Me” is a pulsing, hypnotic charge through the gates with Johnny Depp sharing vocal duties with Alice and Tommy. Depp takes one by himself on the Bowie cover “Heroes”, a surprisingly outstanding version. According to Cooper, Johnny Depp (who is currently fighting an acrimonious divorce battle with two-way accusations of domestic violence) had a lot of emotion to put into Rise.  Perhaps that’s what gives “Heroes” its weight, though it’s not a heavy song.

The best of the brief instrumentals is by second bassist Chris Wyse, called “A Pityful Beauty”.  The song it precedes, “New Threat”, is OK.  It is not up to the better material, sounding a bit like a stock riff & rhythm.  Fortunately “Mr. Spider” has a classic Cooper atmosphere, brimming with drama and horror.  Also sounding like classic Alice, but a different kind, is “We Gotta Rise”.  It’s “Elected” all over again with a Billion Dollar Babies mold, starring “President” Alice Cooper.  Alice isn’t political, but it’s hard to read these lyrics as anything but:

“We gotta rise, let’s rise,
We gotta rise, let’s rise above the lies,
It’s you and I, it’s do or die,
We gotta rise, let’s rise above the lies.”

Maybe that’s reading too much into it, but it sure does sound like a call to arms.  Regardless, “We Gotta Rise” is the best original song on the album.  Depp’s next lead vocal, the Jim Carroll cover “People Who Died” is just about its equal.  A rockabilly punk rocker, “People Who Died” is catchy as the flu, but better for you.

Rise concludes with an interesting spoken word track called “Congratulations”.  It works because Alice, Johnny and Joe have rich speaking voices.  Tommy Henriksen gets a spoken word portion too, using his more like a beat poet.  What you’d think would be a boring slog turns out to be an album highlight.

It’s hard to fathom where Rise will sit in six months time or a year.  It has moments less than stellar, where fat could have been cut, but the weirder escapades could warrant many returns.  Bad press aside, Johnny Depp is charismatic on record.  Joe Perry sounds like he’s having fun playing rock and roll away from Aerosmith.  And Alice?  When has he ever sounded like he wasn’t having fun?

Rise will probably have more longevity than the Hollywood Vampires’ covers album, it just needs to lose some dead weight.

3.5/5 stars

Come back tomorrow for a look at the Japanese exclusive Discs 2 and 3:  Hollywood Vampires Live.

 

 

Advertisements

19 comments

  1. Alright, let’s get started. Great read, by the way. I’m looking forward to tomorrows one.

    “I Want My Now” is one of the best album openers I’ve heard for a long time. And the build up at the start is fantastic. No wonder it’s the opening song on tour also. As for the four wierd instrumentals on the disc, they’re pretty non-essential, although I do agree that “A Pitiful Beauty” is the best of the bunch. Bottom line for me is as longs as they are not bad, which they aren’t, they are fine. They sorta reward the listener for listening to the album in full instead of just the songs alone

    Interesting that you peg “The Boogieman Surprise” as the worst track. Sure it’s slow, but I thought it was alright. It was released as an advance single, so my familiarity and opinion of it are a bit inflated admittedly. “Welcome to Bushwackers” is fun, and I’m glad the band are having fun, it makes for a varied listening experience.

    “YCPYAAAM” is alright, but it’s definitely not one I single out to listen to when I put the album on. I’m glad Joe Perry got a lead vocals slot though, everyone kinda forgets him, what with Alice and Depp in the band also.

    I’m glad Johnny Depp gets some lead vocal duties too, he’s a better singer than I expected. “Git Round From Me” is great, and I’ve warmed up a lot to the cover of “Heroes”.

    But woah woah woah woah, I have to disagree on “New Threat” being the just average. It’s one of my favourite songs of the album, maybe even top (It’s hard to judge because the four advance singles have had more time to be absorbed).

    I definitely picked up on the classic Cooper vibe on “Mr Spider” too. I really love “Mr Spider”. Sure it’s not a rocker like most of the others but damn it’s so good. Now I would have included “We Gotta Rise” in the farcical category with “Bushwackers”. And I definitely wouldn’t have put it as best original song, It’s good, but not that good, and it probably would have been more appropriate as the album closer.

    The cover of “People Who Died” is an interesting one. The song itself is generally pretty lifeless in my opinion. The cover is alright, but really isn’t too different from the original anyway. Based on Hollywood Vampires setlists I would have much preferred “Train Kept a Rolling” on here.

    And lastly “Congratulations”. It’s alright, but it ends the album on a dour note. I usually eject the disc after “People Who Died”

    So there we are, a Hollywood Vampires album where I’m more excited about the originals than the covers, who’d have thunk it. It’s a very eclectic and self-indulgent album and I like that. It has variety, and The Hollywood Vampires sort of have to self-indulgent to do what they do. I hope Rise makes it onto some end-of-year lists, it certainly is my end-of-year list. I guess to cap it off I’ll say that anyone who is unsubstantially negative about Depp should remember that Alice Cooper stands by him, and that’s good enough for me

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure if Rise will make my year end list, but it’s still a contender.

      So we agree on some songs and disagree on others! That is a good thing.

      I don’t know why Boogieman Surprise was picked as the first single. Even the title is boring!

      Like

  2. Oops, forgot “Who’s Laughing Now”. Great song, can definitely hear what Alice meant when he said he was “spitting Johnny’s venom” on the album

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d be pissed too if some two-bit thug made serious career ending baseless accusations against me, and everyone believed her because she’s a woman. Forget innocent until proven guilty, or the burden of proof, just #believewomen because the ladies never lie.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think “We Gotta Rise” is political. I think it tells the story of a man who’s rumored to have erectile dysfunction, and wants to prove otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been waiting for a review. I haven’t dived into this one yet and was hoping you might do one. Glad to see it wasn’t too bad and I might give it a listen now. I wasn’t overly thrilled with the first one. Can’t wait to see what the bonus material is like.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The first couple to tunes are really good. You’re right, the album does drag a bit. I skipped most of Depp’s Heroes. I’d have to listen to it few more times to see if anything sticks.

        Like

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