Who would have thought that back in 1969 when an obscure band released an album called `Pretties For You’, that fifty-two years later their frontman and his alter ego with a penchant for guillotines, blood, snakes and Rock n’ Roll would be releasing his twenty first solo album? But then nothing Alice Cooper does is anything less than spectacular and `Detroit Stories’ is certainly that.
Cooper has once more called on the talents of Bob Erzin to produce this fifteen-track album. Erzin, of course, also produced Cooper’s first commercially successful album, `Love It To Death’.
The album pulls in influences and flavours of the Detroit Rock scene, adding covers of some major players that were big in the Detroit heyday. Fuelled with an MC5 & Stooges vibe, Cooper has gathered the likes of Wayne Kramer of MC5 and Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad as well as surviving members of the original Alice Cooper group and guitar virtuoso Joe Bonamassa to make this polished, definitive affair.
First track, a cover of the Velvet Underground song `Rock n’ Roll’, is done in the style of Mich Ryder’s Detroit version and is faithful to this release, due in no small part to guitarist Steve Hunter and drummer Johnny ‘Bee’ Badanjek playing on the track. The pogoing `Go Man Go’ struts its attitude laden stuff next. Stripped back and raw, this song really hits home.
Visiting a sixties pop world comes the quirky `Love Will Change The World’ followed by the grungy rock of `Social Debris’ which sounds like modern day Alice but without the gizmos.
Cooper has so much ability which is often forgotten and `$1000 High Hell Shoes’ illustrates that perfectly. Here the evil, murdering, crazed Cooper morphs into the king of soul and does an amazing job oozing with sass and swagger aided by Sister Sledge and the Motor City Horns.
Hail Mary’ kicks out a guitar rhythm riff that reminds me of Batman but the song is instantly memorable with stonking vocals from Cooper and some tasty solo licks.
Detroit City 2021’ screams as loud as the music scene in Motor City itself. Lyrically describing the vibe and characters of the area, this track bounces along and ends all too soon.
Drunk In Love’ wins the award for the most trashy and hilarious lyrics found on the album, but this Blues ditty will worm its way into your heart as it stumbles along the sidewalk.
Getting a groove on `Independence Dave’ is good time Rock n’ Roll through and through which sets its good time roller-coaster running and never stops. The meaty, driving rifferama that is `I Hate You’ is a band insult fest and is bound to have any musician rolling with laughter. That being said, it is a totally cool song!
The slow moving, synth, pop rocker `Wonderful World’ sees Cooper revisiting that twisted persona that endears us all to the world of Alice. Gritty vocals that take on different facets as the song progresses retain the interest on an otherwise simpler track.
MC5’s `Sister Anne’ gets the rhythm and blues treatment next as Cooper rocks this classic out in style. In this COVID filled world, Cooper states the obvious in `Hanging By A Thread (Don’t Give Up) which takes a deep grunge riff underpinning overlaid with synths and a wonderous Cooper monologue and chorus.
Raising spirits and rocking out hard, the energetic `Shut Up And Rock’ is pure punk pop trash that sounds so good. The album closes with Bob Seger’s `East Side Story’ which smashes things into the back of the net sealing this albums fate as a future classic.
Alice Cooper has managed to extract the very essence of Detroit’s memorable music masters and add his own inimitable stamp on it turning the tracks found here into amusing, sonic masterpieces that bring a smile and brighten this currently dark world. Go Alice!!
Review by Paul Sabin for MPM