Part two of a two part review
How do you do a Japanese edition up right? How about including 21 bonus tracks in the form of a double live album? Get your credit cards out, folks.
Hollywood Vampires Live unfortunately lacks any English documentation, but Japanese readers might know when and where this show was recorded. It focuses on the covers with a handful of originals, the basis of the first Hollywood Vampires album. Unfortunately a few more fallen heroes have been added to the list of rock casualties, and so Lemmy and Bowie are among the stars honoured.
The original tune “Raise the Dead” (featuring an intro by the late Sir Christopher Lee) opens the show, but it’s just preamble for the better known covers. “I Got A Line On You” is the first track where you realize you’re listening to Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses, The Cult) on drums. He’s unmistakable. The big surprise is that the bassist is Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots)! Alice first covered this tune back in ’88 and it sounds like it’s one of his own songs now. “20th Century Boy” has bite, a little more than the studio cut.
Alice pauses to explain the concept of the band. “We are the Hollywood Vampires,” he asserts. “We pay homage to all of our dead drunk friends. And here comes one now.” It’s Keith Moon and “Pinball Wizard”, a Who cover that was not on the Hollywood Vampires’ debut album. “My Generation” was however, and here it’s injected with the live fire of the sweaty concert stage. Jimi Hendrix is honoured next with “Manic Depression”. Joe Perry playing Jimi Hendrix. Cool. Alice Cooper has no problem jumping from style to style, expert performer that he is.
“This one’s for John,” states Alice. That would be John Lennon, with both “Cold Turkey” and “Come Together”. Joe Perry, of course, is no stranger to “Come Together” which Aerosmith scored a hit with themselves. “Come Together” is another nice bonus because it wasn’t on the Vampires album. It has a different feel from Aerosmith’s take even though it’s the same guitar player.
“Seven and Seven Is” (by Arthur Lee and Love) goes next, which is a late addition to the canon. The Vampires recorded it as an iTunes bonus track for the debut album where it remains an exclusive. The live version is a blitz; Matt Sorum’s sticks must have caught fire. Contrasting that is the band’s interpretation of “Whole Lotta Love”, with Alice and Tommy Henriksen singing lead instead of Brian Johnson.
“I met these guys in 1968. They were my best friends. And I drank a little bit with Jim Morrison…” The Doors are next to be saluted. “Five to One” and “Break On Through” kick ass; Alice really gives ‘er. David Bowie gets the nod on “Rebel Rebel” and “Suffragette City”. It all sounds natural to the Hollywood Vampires.
“As Bad As I Am” is an original song about Johnny Depp, and another track that was only on the iTunes version of Hollywood Vampires. It sounds a bit like “Reckless Life” by Guns N’ Roses. Joe Perry takes the next lead vocal on “Stop Messin’ Around”, the old Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac blues number. It’s an obvious choice since Aerosmith covered it on their 2004 blues album Honkin’ on Bobo. This one is an extended jam, far beyond what Aerosmith did with it.
“My Dead Drunk Friends” is a Vampires original, sort of their raison d’etre, that being paying tribute to Alice’s deceased drinking buddies. It pales in comparison to “Ace of Spades” (lead vocals by Henriksen), easily the heaviest song that Joe Perry’s ever played on. Possibly Alice too. Check out DeLeo on bass, doing his best Lemmy. It’s sad that Lemmy Kilmister joined the list of Rainbow regulars who didn’t make it, but holy shit, what a version!
Only now, at the end of the concert, do the Vampires roll out their own past hits. “I’m Eighteen”, “Sweet Emotion”, “Train Kept A Rollin'” and “School’s Out” sound brilliant. In particular, to hear “I’m Eighteen” with Joe Fucking Perry playing guitar? “Sweet Emotion” with Alice Cooper singing? Sweet Jesus Murphy, is this a fever dream? As usual, Alice melds “Another Brick in the Wall” to “School’s Out” pretty much making it the definitive “school” song.
Closing the show, Alice reminds us: “And remember, give blood! To us!”
If the Vampires keep putting out quality releases, then that’s a distinct possibility.