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Reviews: Alice Cooper – Detroit Stories

Artist: Alice Cooper
Album: Detroit Stories
Release Date: 26th February 2021
Label: earMusic
Reviewed By: Curt Ubank

Man, 2020 was one hell of a year, you know with that huge global catastrophe that ground the live music industry to a halt. My oh my, what is a Rock God to do? Well, in Alice Cooper’s case, the answer is make one belter of an album! The Coop’ has never been one to shy away from a change in music direction, from humble Classic Rock beginnings at the tail end of the 1960s, going crazy avant gard in the early 80s, becoming a Hair Metal god in the 1980s, Industrial rock, Grunge and even a duet with Ke$ha, Its damn near impossible to work out just quite what you’re gonna get when you pop down to your local and pick up the newest disc with that iconic black make up printed on the cover.

So…. Detroit Stories, what do we get? Well as soon as you hit play, you’re gonna get a pretty solid grab on the vibe that’s coming. This immediately feels like Alice. The last couple of albums have had a very classic rock and roll feel, and this album is a train on the same line, straight out of Michigan. “Rock and Roll” straight away has a smooth bluesy flavor. It could be a B-side off a Billion Dollar Babies single, which makes sense as it’s a cover of a Velvet Underground tune. Lead single “Go Man Go” is one you may want to skip on your Spotify while driving, you’re gonna break the speed limit blasting this down the highway, almost certainly while air guitaring. “Our love will change the world” is an unusual beast, almost bring back flavors of “Department of Youth” only with a shitload of tambourine, it’s a flowery, vocally layered, lovely romp in the park immediately punctuated by the crunchy stomp of “Social Debris”. This may be my favourite song off this album. Its very reminiscent of the sound and mix from 2003’s “The Eyes of Alice Cooper”. I will be very upset if it doesn’t make its way onto a set list or five, so the crowd can have a chance to chant “Look At Me, Look At Me”

Has Anyone ever described Alice Cooper as funky? Can anyone describe Alice as funky? How about groovy? “$1000 High Heel Shoes” is exactly what I mean by you never quite know what an Alice album is gonna give you. This track could fit seamlessly into the Blues Brothers. Funk Guitars, a strutting baseline, Motown backing vocals and a goddamn brass section? Sign me up and give me some glittery platform shoes. “Hail Mary” has some great gang vocals over a driving rhythm section that i dare you not to tap your foot along to, and you’re sure to crack a smile to Alice catcalling Mary over the outro.

“Detroit City 2021” brings more of those “The Eyes of…” vibes, and why is that? Well its an updated version of the classic 2003 stomper. It is refreshing to hear a new take on an old favourite, with some new composition choices and what seems like a heavier bottom end, although a part of me definitely prefers the original this new version fits seamlessly in this record and is a great slab of nostalgia. “Drunk and in Love” is a polar opposite, a slow smokey bar blues tune, full of regret, hangovers and harmonica, it’s definitely attention grabbing and plays perfectly with the gravelly vocals and thudding bass track.

“Independence Dave” a giggle from its title alone, and it’s a well-rounded Garage Rock track, albeit a slightly more forgettable one, which unfortunately seems to be the case seems to be the case with “I hate you” as well, although hearing Alice and Co rip on themselves is pretty fun. “Wonderful World” on the other hand, is a sinister and electronic tinged haunter.  Very reminiscent of “Brutal Planet” era Cooper, it’s the kinda track you wouldn’t wanna meet on a rainy Detroit back alley.

“Hanging on by a Thread (Don’t Give Up)” is 100% the anthem for 2020-2021, a surprisingly slow motivational ballad, ending literally with Alice giving out the number for the suicide prevention hotline. Its harrowing and poignant, unexpected and honestly for a lot of people its probably pretty grounding to hear on a major album like this. Massive props to Mr Cooper for addressing it in such an open way.

Rounding out the album is “Shut up and rock” which honestly does exactly what it says on the tin, and a very respectable cover of Bob Seger’s “East Side Story”. It finishes the record off very nicely, even if it does still sound like a knock off of “Gloria” to me.

Has Old Black Eyes still got it? Hell YES he does, even with a few filler tracks, “Detroit Stories” has enough solid highlights to be fresh but familiar, the Garage Rock stylings totally fit with Alice’s current style and if you’ve enjoyed any one of his previous albums, there will be something here you’ll like. All thats really left at the end of the record is to drop to your knees shouting “We’re Not Worthy!”

Tracklist

  1. Rock ‘n’ Roll
  2. Go Man Go (Album Version)
  3. Our Love Will Change The World
  4. Social Debris
  5. $1000 High Heel Shoes
  6. Hail Mary
  7. Detroit City 2021 (Album Version)
  8. Drunk And In Love
  9. Independence Dave
  10. I Hate You
  11. Wonderful World
  12. Sister Anne (Album Version)
  13. Hanging On By A Thread (Don’t Give Up)
  14. Shut Up And Rock
  15. East Side Story (Album Version)

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