Alice Cooper

(CD - eOne #46597)

Review by Joe Viglione

Dragontown continues the assault of Alice Cooper's gift to the new millennium that was Brutal Planet. Considered a third chapter of a trilogy initiated by 1994's The Last Temptation, this shadowy production plays like hardcore in slow motion. There is no one identifiable song like "Gimme" or "Brutal Planet" from the last episode, but the production values are high and the innovative riffs consistent. This work stands on its own, chock-full of the dark prince of pop's nasty humor. "It's Much Too Late" is supposed to be for John Lennon, but the Beatlesque backing vocals sound like Carole King's hit from Tapestry on hard drugs. There are references to the sacrilege spread out over Lennon's work from Plastic Ono Band to Imagine, but here Alice takes off the gloves and gives the church the finger: "I'm sending you all to hell/I'm tired and I'm wired here...." Continuing the dismal discourse of the previous record, Cooper takes Ray Davies' advice in a way the Kinks' leader never could -- A.C. actually gives the fans what they want. "The Sentinel" is some creature of the devil out there harvesting souls -- possibly the souls of dead rock & rollers. The ode to Elvis Presley is a bit more unnerving: "Disgraceland" is metal rockabilly with blazing guitars -- "Went to the pearly gates/Said I'm uh here to sing/And Peter said, 'Well son, you see we already got ourselves a king.'" If you don't think Alice Cooper is the Bob Dylan of nastiness, you clearly haven't followed his pernicious poetry over the years. (Hasn't everyone tried too hard to like Bob Dylan's Love and Theft? Do you really think it will have a place in history as solid as "Like a Rolling Stone" or "Ballad of a Thin Man"?) Where Mariah Carey goes through the motions and wonders why no one cares, Alice Cooper proves that he still does care. This might not be as platinum as Trash or as explosive as Killer, but the older, wiser Alice Cooper devastates with subtle intensity and venomous lyrics. The 12-page booklet inside the very Halloweenish cover contains print that is much too small, but the great photos are exactly what the fans crave: Alice showing the world he was Freddy Krueger long before that character came to life. "Every Woman Has a Name" is a beautiful evil ballad, a throwback to the days of "How You Gonna See Me Now," only Cooper's vocals are even better years later; he is a great singer, the Perry Como of hate. It's too bad the songs are so utterly negative -- at ten minutes shy of an hour, this album succeeds in going further down into the depths and would be a perfect horror movie soundtrack. If you can't figure out who "I Just Wanna Be God" is about you haven't read your Bible. "I'm the omnipresent ruler of the human race...I was born to rock/I was born to rule." Alice Cooper narrates from the first person, the Devil's frustrations are the angst that punks, metal heads, and rappers are floundering around looking for. "I Just Wanna Be God" is rap in slow motion -- a loud, sludgy dirge. It explodes after the ballad and disintegrates into "The Sentinel." If St. Peter stands by the pearly gates, then Alice Cooper is putting in his nomination to be the guardian of hell's entry point. He should be careful what he wishes for. From the blitz that is "Triggerman," which opens the album, to the crunching conclusion, this album is so good that it appears Alice has already landed the job. Listener beware.

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