His new album may be a tribute to the touring life, but to any die-hard Alice Cooper fan, “Road” is going to feel a lot like coming home.
This Friday, August 25, sees the release of the new Alice Cooper album ROAD, his first album since 2021’s acclaimed DETROIT STORIES. K-RPM were invited to have a listen, and we were not disappointed!
The premise of this, Alice’s 22nd solo album, was that his current touring band of Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henrikson and Nita Strauss on guitar, Chuck Garric on bass and Glen Sobel on drums were asked to write songs which were then worked into the Alice Cooper mould with Alice and longtime producer and collaborator, Bob Erzin to create what would finally become “Road“. The theme of the album is self-explanatory; an Alice-style view of life on tour, and if there is anyone qualified to sing about being on the road it is surely Alice himself, having travelled the world for five decades, performing thousands of concerts to who-knows how many people.
Quite simply, if you are a fan of Alice’s output over the last 20 years you are going to love Road. There are nods and reminders to past classics throughout, intentional or not these combine to bring a cohesiveness to Alice’s entire back catalogue, in a way. Opener I’m Alice has call-backs to the original Alice Cooper band all over it, Welcome To The Show has a definite early-eighties feel. Kane Roberts makes an appearance on Dead Don’t Dance, a song which wouldn’t be out of place on either of the albums he originally appeared on, while All Over The World, amongst others, harks back to the Dirty Diamonds era (which makes sense given that Ryan Roxie was one of the principal writers on that album). One of the biggest surprises of the album is the re-recording – a reworking – of the Alice Cooper, Lace and Whiskey track “Road Rats“, now titled “Road Rats Forever“, an ode to the life of the road crew,
the inclusion of this track bringing the legendary Dick Wagner into the writing credits for this album. But don’t assume this all suggests a lack of originality – “Road” has it’s own identity, as each AC solo album has, while fitting in with the hard-rocking vibe we’ve come to expect.
Lyrically there is a lot of the attitude we hear from Alice in his Hollywood Vampires guise; touring, being in a band, rock and roll excess, all delivered with the usual dose of Alice’s tongue-in-cheek view of life. By the time we get to Big Boots with it’s honky-tonk piano and ridiculous, eye-roller lyrics, the double-entendres needle finds itself buried firmly in the red.
It’s a staple of any AC album that there is a ballad in there somewhere, and this time around Baby Please Don’t Go is what we are served. It’s a ballad that is up there with any of his best, the theme spelled out to us in the title.
There are some particularly heavy moments to be found on the album, White Line Frankenstein featuring Tom Morello being one such track, another being The Big Goodbye, the love-em-and-leave-em anthem that dispenses with the irony and sounds, it has to be said, fairly mean and very old-school “Alice”!
The album closer, a rock-out version of The Who‘s Magic Bus complete with an incredible Glen Soble drum solo, is preceded by 100 More Miles – Alice in his best crooner mode, a burned-out rock star contemplating the last stages of his life on the road. But from everything we’ve heard the man say in the lead up to this release, Alice appears to be telling us that the end of the road is one of the furthest things from his mind.
Alice Cooper, “Road” : Verycords/earMUSIC : release date, Friday 25th August 2023. Order your copy here.
Album review and live photography by Brian Downie