BY ADRIAN SILVAS
Schools Out and Alice Cooper is hitting the road again. With a career spanning over five decades and tour stops all over the world, one would think Cooper is tired of life on the streets, like many artists who seem to wear out with the miles. The Black Keys, Billy Joel, and Adele all express a mutual disdain for it, but Cooper embraces the wind, the journey, the bumps, the ride, and getting back to his dark carnivals.
Cooper’s latest studio album Road plays out as a love letter to his years of touring and the shows he will play shortly. This particular album is proof of the theory that there was something in the water or the drugs in the 70’s because Cooper shows no signs of stopping. His energy is still at an all-time high, he screams in your face, shows his playful side, and conducts the album like an evil ringleader.
The album somehow feels out of place listening to it through headphones or speakers. His lyrics and playing will get the blood pumping, but there is a craving or an itch that needs much more attention. Like a Christopher Nolan film that requires an IMAX theater for its first viewing, this album begs for a debut in a large stadium or arena in the most grandiose way possible. We must work with what we have until he gets back on the pavement to deliver a proper performance fitting for this anthology.
Cooper shoots point-blank with Road. His voice is still a force of nature, although it has shifted from the high-pitched tone of the 70’s to more of a growl today. In the tracks, he shows us why he is a founding father of theatrical hard rock with his opening song “I’m Alice.” Drums beating heavy and guitars whining. One has to imagine spotlights circling a crimson-tinted curtain and its dropping as Cooper introduces himself, “I’m the master of madness, the sultan of surprise.” Cooper declares that we can do nothing else but applaud and agree.
Almost every song on the album has a signature guitar solo to wrap it up from Nita Strauss. Like a kiss on the cheek from different strangers, you are left feeling either confused or satisfied by the end of the song. A familiar peck unsubtly makes its way onto you at the beginning of “White Line Frankenstein.” Once the distorted guitar playing and scratching hit you, you’ll find yourself in the “very careful” hands of Cooper and Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. For those familiar with his playing style, you are banging your head while wearing a grin from ear to ear, and for those not, you are in for one hell of a ride.
Certain tracks like “Rules Of The Road” display the charming, darkly comical side of Cooper where he lays out the three rules; drink anything offered in a glass, take anything offered to you in general, and drive as hard as you can. If you follow these rules you will end up like many of Cooper’s friends that belong to a particular club. Just make sure to, and he can not stress this enough, get the money.
Cooper’s Road is a testament to an artist who has not lost his touch. It’s not enough for him to construct a great album but he needs to put us in the passenger seat and guarantee we will have as much fun as he will on this trip. At the tender age of 75, Cooper has been able to hone his craft to a formula. He understands his audience and himself enough to create an album with this much confidence and style. It is his signature, and we expect nothing less from him. Road marks his 29th album to date, so enjoy it while we all hungrily wait for his 30th.
Alice Cooper is performing in concert at the Concord Pavilion with Rob Zombie September 22nd.