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Alice Cooper

Welcome to My Nightmare

Review by Gary Hill

To many this classic album represents Alice Cooper at his theatric best. It is a loosely knit concept album that at times is a bit weak, at times a bit over the top, but in many ways a spooky masterpiece. The concept album effect is augmented by the fact that many of the instrumental breaks seem to tie into one another a bit.

Alice is joined on this one by Johnny Badanjek, Jozef Chirowski, Bob Ezrin, Whitey Glan, Steve Hunter, Prakash John, Tony Levin, Vincent Price, David Ezrin and the Summerhill Children`s Choir, Michael Sherman, Dick Wagner, Gerry Lyons and Trish McKinnon.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Welcome to My Nightmare
The title track begins with a solid-rock intro and first verse before the intensity jumps. Featuring moments of `70`s styled funk guitar and a nicely twisted instrumental break (complete with some cool horns), the piece serves as a strong in-way to the album. The intensity level is even higher after the break, and the cut includes a false ending. "Welcome to my nightmare, I think you`re gonna like it, I think you`re gonna feel you belong."
Devil's Food
This cut is a somewhat stripped-down hard-rocker that contains some considerably processed vocals. The actual song is quite brief, but the track includes the wonderful spoken-word introduction to Black Widow featuring the immortal Vincent Price.
The Black Widow
A very strong and somewhat scary number, this arachnatune is a hard-rocker about the spider conquering the world. It is marred only by references to the Black Widow as "he" after the intro states that the female is the dominant of the species.
Some Folks
Some Folks is a top-hats and walking-sticks chorus-line type of song that has some definite rock oriented moments, particularly towards the end of the piece.
Only Women Bleed
This classic rock ballad is quite pretty and poignant. It contains an interesting (rather orchestrated) instrumental break.
Department of Youth
The weakest cut on the album, this is a straightforward rocker.
Cold Ethyl
A fun song (if you don`t take it too seriously), Cold Ethyl is one of several Cooper songs focusing on necrophilia. Featuring chunky and tasty guitar work, this is a definite rocker. "One thing, no lie, Ethyl`s frigid as an Eskimo pie, she`s cool in bed, she oughta be cause Ethyl`s dead."
Years Ago
Harpsichord based, this is a wonderfully spooky mood piece that is dissonant and contains creepy vocal work. "All my toys are broken, and so am I inside, Mom, the carnival has closed years ago." The lyrics seem to provide a glimpse into a twisted psyche struggling to decide between childhood and adulthood. Leading into Steven, this composition sets a nicely haunted tone. The melody even includes a musical allusion to "knick knack, paddy whack, give your dog a bone."
Steven
Music much like the theme to The Exorcist begins this cut, and the mood just keeps getting creepier. "I must be dreaming, please stop screaming, 'Steven'."
The Awakening
The main character awakens in his basement. "I must be here sleepwalking, wasn`t I?" As he follows "a crimson trail of spots that lead into the night", a shocking discovery is made. This piece ties several themes from previous tracks together.
Escape
Escape is quite competent, although not overly strong. It features an interestingly arranged break.
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