Michael Bruce

In My Own Way

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Given that Alice Cooper has been a solo star for so many years, it's easy to forget that his early hits were the work of a group instead of one person. Michael Bruce was one of Cooper's most important songwriting collaborators during the heyday of the group, landing writing credits on seminal tracks like "Desperado" and "No More Mr. Nice Guy." This album, recorded shortly after the breakup of the original Alice Cooper group, shows that Bruce had the skill to put together well-constructed songs, but also that his abilities as a lyricist and frontman were lacking. The first problem is his voice: While it isn't harsh or grating, it is definitely not a lead singer's voice. He suffers from both a thin vocal range and an inability to project emotion in a convincing manner, qualities that are both illustrated on the album opener "King of America." Elsewhere, his attempt at a punkish vocal on the album's lethargic cover of "Friday on My Mind" proves he doesn't have the pipes to be a rocker. As for the songs themselves, the lyrics show none of the sly humor of Bruce's work with Alice Cooper and instead settle for an overdose of rock star self-pity: "As Rock Rolls On" is a whiny track that complains about the expectations placed on rock stars by their fans and the title track is like a soft rock version of "My Way" minus the impressive Frank Sinatra vocals and the punchy drama of that song's arrangement. The instrumental backing behind these tunes, produced by ex-Rascals Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli, is solid and professional but lacking in inspiration and surprises. However, some likable tracks do turn up on the album's second side: "If the Sky Should Fall" is a nice mid-tempo track with an attractive, keyboard-laced arrangement, and "So Far, So Good" is a tight little cover of a Slade tune that provides the album's finest rocker. Despite these bright spots, In My Own Way remains an unfocused album that will only interest Alice Cooper completists.

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