Along Came A Spider

Alice Cooper

Steamhammer/SPV, 2008

http://www.alicecooper.com

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/03/2008

This decade has proven to be Alice Cooper’s most productive and rewarding since his glory days in the 1970’s. Five studio albums, live releases, and countless compilations have all been released since 2000’s return to form, Brutal Planet. And now for his 25th studio album, Cooper has returned to the menacing freak he once played to perfection. Back in the days when it was possible to shock audiences, Cooper did it bigger and better than anyone before or since. He is rock’s ultimate villain, his shows are legendary, and his longevity is not surprising considering his impressive cannon of top ten hits and platinum albums since his debut in ‘69.

Along Came A Spider is a concept album about a serial killer called Spider who leaves all his victims wrapped in a silk web and missing a leg. His intention is to collect eight legs to create his very own spider. There is a twist, however, when Spider falls in love with his eighth victim and all hell breaks loose. So who else could pull this off as convincingly as Cooper? No one I say, no one.

The album opens with “Prologue/I Know Where You Live,” introducing Spider to us with a blistering garage rock riff and a punchy chorus that is a throwback to his early days with The Alice Cooper Band. The first single “Vengeance Is Mine” follows up with a heavier arrangement (including Slash on guitar), and it is here that the album really kicks into gear with Spider defiant and ready to roll.

“Wake The Dead” is one of the most sinister songs here, and has Spider declaring, “Give me a redhead, give me a brunette, send a blonde to me / When I unwind, I’m color-blind, they’re all the same to me.” As with every successful serial killer, there remains a sense of arrogance and self-admiration about their handiwork. This is evidenced by “Catch Me If You Can,” a brilliant rocker in which Spider taunts his pursuers and acknowledgers his “wrestle with the devil” and his seemingly sealed fate -- it’s a glorious highlight.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side” and “Wrapped In Silk” take us further into Spider’s journey, and both are greatly enhanced by the players churning out relentless, heavy riffs as menacing as the lyrics themselves. The pace finally slows for the sublime ballad, “Killed By Love,” which proves that even serial killers are partial to a little romance. Introspection doesn’t last long, though, as “I’m Hungry” has Spider back out on the hunt with clear intentions: “I got a bed in my basement fit for two / I got some chloroform and handcuffs just for you.”

“The One That Got Away” has Spider lamenting a victim he cut loose for reasons he keeps to himself. This is followed by the album’s second and only ballad, “Salvation.”  It’s a classic Cooper ballad and fits the album superbly, showing Spider seeking solace: “Any chance of salvation / Someone died for me / Washed in blood / He cared enough to pity me.” It would have been a fitting ending to Spider’s tale but, he ain’t done yet.

The menacing “I Am The Spider/Epilogue” has Spider wrapping up the story of his web and how he spun it. It’s Spider’s anthem and leads into his spoken word epilogue, which leaves us with a final twist (which I won’t give away) only to say that Steven is back…

Along Came A Spider is classic Alice Cooper; it’s what we love him for and represents the very best of his talents. The players (mainly consisting of his road band) are brilliant and have tapped into that Detroit sound, all the while twisting it and lashing out with blistering chops and punchy rhythms that would sit comfortably with Cooper’s best work. Cooper’s vocals are sharp and right up front, backed at times by his daughter Calico and Bernard Fowler and layered elsewhere so that the emphasis remains firmly on the lyrics, which of course are crucial to the album‘s success.

For the most part, this decade has seen Cooper deliver his best work since the ‘70s and while I refuse to offer my “best since…” opinion, Along Came A Spider will stand firmly alongside his very best work. One can only imagine the outcry had this been released in the early ‘70s. 

This is the kind of record (much like Welcome To My Nightmare) that the masterful showman Cooper could build an entire show around and I for one hope we hear more from Spider, and Steven in the future.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2008 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Steamhammer/SPV, and is used for informational purposes only.