Welcome To My Nightmare

Alice Cooper

Atlantic Records, 1975


REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


Superlative! Stupendous!! Absolutely Smashing!!! This is, without doubt in my opinion and a lot of other people's as well, Alice Cooper's finest hour. This stuff is rock 'n roll of such high quality that I know that when I want a multi-orgasmic experience, all I have to do is throw this cd in the player...this single album could be a greatest hits package onto itself!

Welcome To My Nightmare takes all of the best characteristics of the previous five albums but at the same time avoids the bad ones, and that is what makes this such a triumph...I know this is going to sound pretty cliched by now, but this is most definitely one of the finest rock albums ever crafted. Some people might say that it's not as raw, dangerous, powerful, or even socially relevant the way the early albums were, and admittedly this does mark the transition of Alice Cooper from a cutting dge wildman to a tamer showman, but if you ignore everything that came before you'll realize what a great work this is.

This was Alice Cooper's first solo album after splitting with his high school mates and backing band over creative differences in 1974, and boy did he ever do his homework. This is more than a concept album with a recurring theme; it's a rock opera! There's just so much going on here...it's all the little details that really make this a work of art.

Alice's best move was to get Bob Ezrin back as producer, and he did an amazing job...considering the limits of recording technology in 1975, this album sounds awesome...everything is clear and the mix couldn't be better. Just about every instrument that exists pops up in the weirdest places all over the album which makes for great little surprises, like the weird watery vibrato effect on a lot of the gutiars, bells, plenty of strings (even pizzicato!), pianos, and horns, organs...everything, playing kooky little eccentric melodies and creating mysterious soundscapes. Not only that, but Alice could not have hired a more talented backing band, anchored by studio guitar virtuosos Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner...they might even surpass the original band, and they are just as weird!

Speaking of weird, this is Alice's most twisted, sick, and demented album yet, which is great. I mean hey, it's even got a cameo by Vincent Price on it! You can really see how Alice envisioned a grand stage spectacle which would be very difficult to top, if ever...and in my personal opinion, based on the concert videos available, the tour he did for this album was something you really had to see to believe. We're talking full scale Broadway style production, with countless dancers, ballerinas, demons, spiders, and countless other strange extras running around amidst the nightmarish carnival props. I would bet it was the greatest rock spectacle in history, and I certainly don't think even he has come close to ever topping it.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

On to the songs! "Welcome To My Nightmare" opens the album in a slow, acoustic guitar fuelled intro with Alice quietly whispering the lyrics, as if you are entering a dream, another world...very eerie song, one of his best.

Up next is "Devil's Food", a heavy song which has the brilliant Vincent Price doing a hilarious psychotic monologue about spiders in a way only he could...excellent stuff! That song flows directly into "Black Widow", and you can imagine what that one's about...also a dark, heavy, plodding song. All of this stuff is unbelievably over the top, and even the guitar riffs and solos sound creep-crawly!

Then we have "Some Folks", a bizarre piano led song with a swing beat to it and use of a children's chorus. "Only Women Bleed", the next song, was a huge hit, and you could say it was Alice's first true slow, soft ballad, but of course with the ever present demented lyrics! He was really showing his versatility with that one, and it's sappy commercial sound appealed to a wide audience. Awesome song though...writing of this quality in a genre previously unexplored for the Coop serves as a testament to his great talent.

"Department Of Youth" is this album's obligatory teen rebellion song, but it's top notch...a very uplifting and fun rockin' tune, with the typical self depreciating humour: "Who's got the power?" - Alice "We do!" - chorus of children "And who gave it to you?" - Alice "Donny Osmond!!!" - chorus of children "WHAT?!?!?!" - Alice

"Cold Ethyl", featuring some really detailed, complicated arrangements, seems to be one of Alice's most popular tunes, and rightly so...but if you're one of those people who think it's a drinking song (because of ethyl alcohol), listen to the lyrics; it's about fucking a corpse, complete with orgasmic oooohhs and aaaahhs buried in the mix if you listen carefully! A full out, adrenalized heavy rocker with side splitting lyrics revisting necophilia...who could resist???

And at this point in the album, the next three songs are among the darkest and most morbid I have ever heard...I don't care what anybody says about today's bands being scarier and creepier, like Marilyn Manson or Tool or whatever...if you sit in a room at night and turn off the lights and listen to the songs "Years Ago", "Steven" and "The Awakening", you will not come out the same person...they are completely eerie, twisted, dark, evil, psychotic, and just plain sick...all of which makes them so great! During these songs the music really shines...they must have broken every rock cliche at the time. And they created this powerful mood not by being in your face or overly heavy, but rather through subtle suggestion.

"Years Ago" is a harpsichord waltz; "Steven" has some excellent classical style cascading piano playing with acoustic guitar joining in and subtle use of pizzicato strings, before Alice talks like he's completely lost all sanity...just awesome stuff. The album ends on a happy note with the straight forward optimistic rocker, "Escape", yet another very solid entry.

It is my opinion that for Alice Cooper, Welcome To My Nightmare stands as the undisputed masterpiece. The crown jewel. The grand opus. This isn't "real" rock music...it's so much more than just that. It transcends that plane. A beautifully realized ambitious musical project. It's a storybook come to life. I can't think of another album that involves and engages the listener (at least me) on so many levels.

Of course, it's not perfect; the only album that's perfect exists only in my head. Everybody has their idea of what perfection is, and no matter how great something is, you will always be able to find someting, no matter how miniscule, that you would have done differently. It's still one of the closest albums to my vision of perfection however, by anyone.

Rating: A

User Rating: A


© 2001 Roland Fratzl 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 Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.