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Alice Cooper

Paranormal

Review by Gary Hill

I always look forward to new Alice Cooper albums. While I don't love everything he's done, he generally manages to entertain, and I'm a big fan. I was especially looking forward to this one because I knew there were going to be a couple songs with the reunited Alice Cooper band from the original run. Well, this disc did not disappoint. It is one of his most consistent albums. It rocks from start to finish. I'd have to say that this one is likely to make my "best of 2017" list in the long-run. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the new music winds up as Cooper classics down the road, either. The songs with the reunited band are on the second CD along with some new live recordings. That makes all of that bonuses, but they all work well, too. If you've ever liked Alice Cooper, I highly recommend this.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD 1
                 
Paranormal

Starting with a picked guitar section, this turns out to a trademark hard rocking Alice Cooper tune. It makes nice use of the balance between the mellower and more powered up stuff. It's tastefully creepy and so cool.

Dead Flies
This cut is a bit more on the raw hard rocking end of the spectrum. I love the singsong kind of vocal approach on this. It's a stomper that fits well within the Cooper tradition while creating a new vibe at the same time.
Fireball

I love the vibe on this with the rather distant vocals. It has a meaty kind of hard rocking sound that's just so cool. This one lands in the vicinity of metal.

Paranoiac Personality

This might be the best tune here. It's clearly the catchiest one. The hard rocking sound is a modern take on classic Cooper. This is just such a great song.

Fallen in Love
There is a bit of an Americana vibe to this. It also feels just a bit like Kiss. I like the lyrical nods to Cooper's musical past. While this is fun, it's perhaps not up to the standard of the songs that preceded it.
Dynamite Road
This is sort of a nod to a lot of old hot rod rockers. It, as you might guess, has an Alice Cooper twist to it. That said, Cooper uses the spoken vocal trope well here. It really seems mandatory for this kind of song. This has some smoking hot guitar soloing built into it.
Private Public Breakdown
A bit more of a mainstream rocker, this is fun. It's not a highlight of the set. Then again, they can't all be. The thing is, there are albums where this would be a highlight.
Holy Water
I dig the horns on this cut. The number has a cool old school Cooper vibe to it. In fact, it reminds me of "Muscle of Love" (the song, more than the album) quite a bit on the chorus. This is classy and brings some definite variety.
Rats
Screaming hot hard rock, this is one of the most fun tunes here. It makes me think of a combination of The Rolling Stones and punk rock in a lot of ways. Of course, Cooper brings his personality to it, too.
The Sound of A
Dramatic and a bit mysterious, this is more of a melodic rocker. It's so classy. It has a bit of the classic Cooper sound from the 1970s built into it. This is one of the highlights of the set as far as I'm concerned. It has a complex and intriguing arrangement that leans toward progressive rock at times.
CD 2
Genuine American Girl

This is the first of two new songs with the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band. I can't figure out if Cooper is talking about trans-gender people here or just taking the part of a woman. Either way, this is a cool rock and roller that's classic in style. The chorus is catchy.

You and All of Your Friends
This fits very well in the old-school Cooper basket. That makes sense since this is another of the reunion cuts. It's catchy, gritty and cool.
Live in Columbus (OH) May 6, 2016
No More Mr. Nice Guy

The first of several live cuts here, this old classic is delivered in fine fashion here.

Under My Wheels
Another classic Cooper stomper, I think this might be one of the best versions I've heard. It's not a big departure or anything. It just seems particularly "on" in terms of fire and sound.
Billion Dollar Babies

Now, in terms of live recordings, I do think this is probably the best take on this number I've heard. It's a screamer and works so well here.

Feed My Frankenstein
I would guess that there are less live versions of this number out there than the others, just because it's newer. The cut is another stomper, and one that's very catchy. This live take really rocks.
Only Women Bleed
This Cooper classic works pretty well in this live telling. It feels pretty faithful to the studio take, but perhaps with a bit crunchier approach.
School's Out

You can't get much more classic Cooper than this song. I know I've got other live recordings of it, but this one is right up there with the best of them. It's a screamer. It's a great way to close this set. Cooper introduces the band on this one.

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