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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Alice Cooper

Dragontown

Review by Gary Hill

Last year Cooper introduced to a world he called "Brutal Planet", and it was a brutal sounding very hard-edged release that had a strong concept to it. One would expect more of the same on his follow up, but that is not what he delivered. This disc does have some moments of musical ferocity, but overall the style is closer to his '70's era music. It has a mellower angle to it - but it is still hard edged. It only seems mellow when comparing it to Brutal Planet. Lyrically the disc is not nearly as dark. Yes, the themes are dark, but there are also humorous edges all over this album. Does this mean that Dragontown is a bad album? No, far from it, it is a very strong album. Is it is as strong as Brutal Planet? Well, that one is debatable, but in this reviewer's opinion, no. The concept here is not so easily discernable as on that album, and I think that Planet really had me geared up for the darker more brutal edge. Still, this disc does not really have any weak cuts, and it is a nice leaning back towards the old classic Cooper sound.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Triggerman
This one starts the album off in much the same manner as Brutal Planet. It comes in hard and fast. This is a gritty, mean piece that has a catchy chorus.
Deeper
Starting with effects type tones, this one jumps in brutally hard, but drops to a more sparse, mellower creepy tone for the verse. The chorus is created by the harder edged sound and a great spooky sounding vocal break completes the picture.
Dragontown
A haunting, more melodic style starts this one with a bit of an eastern tinged tone. The lyrics here are brutal. The cut features a hard-edged gritty segment that serves as contrast to that melodic section. It features a great catchy chorus. The composition fluctuates between these three sounds. It also includes a break that feels like the classic era Cooper of the harder variety.
Sex Death and Money
A techno beat creates the backdrop for this tough song. The lyrics are a great take on a complaint about the sex and violence in our society. It is delivered in a classic Alice nearly spoken mode. This is another that feels a lot like an updating of the classic Coop sound.
Fantasy Man
This bouncy, but still gritty cut is a tongue-in-cheek praise of testosterone soaked living. It is fairly light hearted and fun.
Somewhere In The Jungle
Describing vicious war in Africa, this is a mid-tempoed hard rocking number with a lot of character.
Disgraceland
This one could have been called "Dead Elvis". It is based around a classic '50's rock and roll riff and Elvis styled vocals. The lyrics are an irreverent, darkly humorous take on Mr. Presley. This is good fun.
Sister Sara
With a modern hard-edged gritty tone, this one screams out and features a classic Cooper vocal line. It includes a playful quirky segment with female vocals that really calls to mind that '70's Alice sound.
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