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'Along Came A Spider'
When I first heard that Alice Cooper's 25th studio offering was going to be a concept album I was instinctively jubilant. Connotations of classics yore invaded my spinning mind forcing my heart to dance around and try to beat its way out of my ribcage. I convinced myself for a moment it was going to be 'Welcome to my Nightmare' all over again - one of my favourite albums of all time. I was almost rabid, tongue lolling to one side and deliriously dreaming away, dusting down the old electric chair, giving the old guillotine a rub with a bit of Brasso, Ronsealing the flaking gallows.
When the straightjacket was fitted, the injection administered and the face severely smacked I had a little chance to reflect. I was kidding myself. For deep down I knew that a lonely piper plays solemnly upon the spot where the old, original Cooper grandeur once lived.
But I feared not, since he changed his style through the 80's to settle on a more mainstream rock sound he has given us some commendable albums, 'Trash' and 'Hey Stoopid' in particular. He also rotates personnel quite regular, writing with different people and changing producers so anything within the realms of planet rock can be expected.
On paper 'Along Came A Spider' had all the ingredients for a modern day Alice masterpiece. The concept is based around a serial killer who chops off the limbs of his 8 victims to construct his very own spider. Nice. The album cover is adorned by a pallid, beak-nosed Cooper in unmistakable make-up looking nefarious and ready to stalk.
For all the lavish stage shows, showmanship and presentation I have first and foremost always been a fan of the music. It's all very well having a nice looking car but if the engine is rotten then it won't work. For me the theatrics have always been a welcomed added bonus.
My initial impression of the album was one of disappointment. I had probably been expecting a little too much as my opening gambit would suggest but even so something seemed veritably wrong in the house of the dead.
Whereas first impressions do go a long way I've listened to enough music to appreciate that most albums need multiple plays to gauge a true reflection of their quality.
I tried - lord I tried. Several times. Though I admit the album grew on me slightly it only served to give my disenchantment a mild sedative.
The album features an overused fuzz box sound for the guitars. There are fade-ins, phase effect drum rolls, random noises and passages in some songs that shade on an attempt at some bizarre rock techno. The odd squeak and blip does help create the feel and atmosphere of a psychotic environment but the whole Danse Macabre feels a little static.
I would describe the overall sound as glossed over garage rock, an oxymoron I know but I'm at pains to find a true definition.
Too many songs on here lack a decent flowing rhythm and one features one of my all time pet hates and rock no-no - the dreaded hand-clap Glitter band snare drum effect. It is a direction that for me, personally doesn't work.
I'm certainly not opposed to a little experimentation but fundamentally the songs have got to have a solid substance that you can work around. Something just misses in the pulse of this album. It seems a little unsettled and unsure of exactly what it wants to be, threatening to be different but its bark is far worse than its bite.
Alice's voice is as gravely as ever but has been toyed with too much in parts and it sounds like he's singing from the depths of a very deep well. The lyrics don't do him too many favours either being a bit predictable and cheesy. Easy rhyme bit of a crime.
It is very difficult for me to criticise Alice Cooper, he has given me endless hours of enjoyment over the years be it pounding out of my headphones or seeing him perform live on several occasions but this is not his finest hour in my personal opinion.
'Along Came A Spider' is not without its good moments though. It is a touch ironic that a song called 'Salvation' is the album's saviour. It is a reflective ballad about the consequences of the serial killer's actions and is a strong piano driven piece with just a whiff of old school Alice about it.
Another song of note is 'Vengeance Is Mine' which features lifelong Cooper addict Slash on lead. The song is reminiscent of 'Feed My Frankenstein' from the 'Hey Stoopid' album (and the film 'Wayne's World' if my memory serves me correctly) and with an inevitable wah-wah influenced Slash solo is definitely one to savour.
The other interesting song on here is another ballad by the name of 'Killed By Love'. The song is not intriguing in its construction - it is as clichéd as they come but the most salient feature of the track is the vocal. You have to remember this is a 60 year old guy singing here but you could comfortably pass it off as someone in their early 20's. There isn't much range required for the song but the tone of his voice, the phrasing and delivery in general is quite remarkable for one of his years. I do feel though it is a reflection on the album's song writing that a simple ballad comes as a welcome relief.
I'm not saying 'Along Came A Spider' is a lazy attempt, far from it. On the contrary it has probably had too much work put into it but the majority of songs are not particularly strong. It does, however, lend itself to a good stage show as the story is entertaining and also Alice tends to play the songs heavier live so hopefully this will eradicate the little beeps and over produced twiddles that litter the album when the tour hits town. But alas, this is a studio album review.
I can't say hand on heart that I was caught in this new web, probably because I'm still stuck in the old one. And, as I lie strewn across the silvery strands, suspended gleefully, eternally and patiently, I know he'll be back for me. Hopefully next time Alice will give me more of a bite than the nibble he did during this album.
I wait...knowing that as much as I can't kill him, he can't kill me neither. Come back soon Mr Cooper, I'll be waiting...
After having received a recommendation from a well respected friend, combined with the slew of excellent promo posters and videos which we were treated to, one could have forgiven me for being expectant especially after the previously disappointing ''Dogey' Diamonds' record.
Sadly Along Came a Spider, despite having a dark 'dairy of a serial killer' concept musically lacks the power and darkness which I craved. Although it is perhaps a bit of a throwback to some of his earlier work, including an opening prologue and closing epilogue which is reminiscent of the classic 'Welcome To My Nightmare' period, and an excellent ballad to boot the album on the whole disappoints.
Again, the lack of power and darkness is a complete mystery - as well as this I just couldn't get a kick out of the music despite the 'Vengeance Is Mine' track being fair heavy and reminiscent of the 'Brutal Planet' era.
Alice Cooper the legend of rock has released his 25th studio album 'Along Came a Spider'. This is his highest charting album since his album 'Hey Stoopid' charting at #31 in the UK.
This album as with most of Alice's does have a couple of guest appearances on it firstly Slash ex Guns n' Roses and Velvet Revolver guitarist who plays on track 2 "Vengeance Is Mine" , and Ozzy Osbourne who believe it or not does not sing on the album but instead plays the harmonica on track 3 "Wake the Dead" . Both of these artists are also featured on Alice's album "Hey Stoopid" where they appeared on the title track.
Being a huge Alice Cooper fan for some years now and having all of his albums to date, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this album. Despite his age Alice is still able to out rock the best of them.
The album is a concept style album with a strong theme running throughout the song lyrics. It tells the tale of a character called 'Spider' a serial killer who wraps his victims in silk and removes one of their legs in the hope of making a spider from their remains. However his plans are put in jeopardy when he falls in love with his last victim.
On the whole this album does have a very heavy feel throughout it with Alice's long-time studio and live performance band producing some excellent sounding backing to Alice's stunning vocal work.
My personal favourite on the album would have to be 'Vengeance Is Mine' it is the most outstanding track on the album, the guitar work provided by both Slash and Danny Saber are heavy, raw and dirty as hell.
Check it out for youself:
'I Am The Spider' is also another of my favourites, with its unusual guitar sounds it really rounds off the album brilliantly and brings a conclusion to the story behind the lyrics.
Check it out here:
Another song worthy of a mention on this album is 'Wake The Dead' which brings one of my other favourite old rockers (The Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne) together with Alice once more, all be it in a slightly unusual method. Oh yeah I just remembered Ozzy used to play harmonica in Black Sabbath.
Check it out here:
Alice cooper is still rocking out at 60 years of age! With a career spanning over 30 years now this album certainly has a lot of stiff competition from the other albums in Alice's back catalogue, but I personally feel that this album stands up to pretty much to all of them on all fronts. This is definitely an album Alice Cooper fans will want in their collections and you won't be disappointed by it.
1. "Prologue / I Know Where You Live"
2. "Vengeance Is Mine" (Featuring Slash)
3. "Wake the Dead" (Featuring Ozzy Osbourne)
4. "Catch Me If You Can"
5. "(In Touch with) Your Feminine Side"
6. "Wrapped in Silk"
7. "Killed by Love"
8. "I'm Hungry"
9. "The One That Got Away"
11. "I Am the Spider / Epilogue"
To find out more about this album, or any of Alice's other albums or live performances then a quick trip to Alice Cooper's website will be able to provide you with the information you should need.
Official Website: www.alicecooper.com
YouTube official web page:
Along Came A Spider is Alice Cooper's 25th studio album, released some 39 years after his first album "Pretties for You", I'm a big Alice Cooper fan and have every one of his albums and the fact that he experiments with different sounds occasionally means that they're not that good or are completely different to what you expect but most of them grown on you within time.
So far this millenium has been a bit of a mixed bags - whilst I thought it started off strong with the harder sounding Brutal Planet and Dragontown, The Eyes of Alice Cooper was hit and miss and had one or two stinkers but also some good tracks as he aimed for a garagey sound, Dirty Diamonds on the other hand was a bit of a let down with a poppy sound and no stand out tracks. Along Came A Spider was not only well-received by critics but also seemingly the public, giving Alice his best chart positions in the UK and US since 1991's Hey Stoopid, an album which produced a fair amount of well known songs - Hey Stoopid, Feed my Frankenstein and Love's A Loaded Gun to name but a few.
At first listen, I thought "oh no" when listening to this album, it's a continuation of Dirty Diamonds but on second listening, I started to warm to it.. there are some cheesy lyrics (particularly on "(In Touch With Your) Feminine Side" in there and the last track I am The Spider has good and bad but is basically a return of the Stephen story from the 80s! Guitar riffs are catchy and whilst a couple of tracks may have quite a popy sound, there's also some classics - "Killed by Love" is possibly the best ballad he's done since "Only Women Bleed" and it's interesting to see that the vocals haven't changed since the very early work in the late 60s, early 70s! I Know Where You Live is a great powerful way to start off the album and in true Coop style starts a story which sets the theme of the album. This basically revolves around a serial killer by the name of Spider who baffles the police by removing a leg off each of his victims, he plans to acquire 8 legs to build his very own spider but he falls in love with the 8th victim which complicates things somewhat.
This may not be his best album but it's not a let down either and I think you'll find it grows on you.
Personnel used on this album (courtesy of Wikipedia)
* Alice Cooper - Lead/Backing Vocals
* Danny Saber - Guitars (Tracks 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,10 and 11); Slide Guitars (4); Ebow (4); Bass Guitars (1,3,6,8,10 and 11); Piano (7); Keyboards (1,3,6,7,8,10 and 11); Synths (4); String Arrangements (10 and 11)
* Greg Hampton - Guitars (2,4,6,8,9 and 11); Bass Guitars (4); Keyboards (4,9 and 11); Backing Vocals (1,2,3,4,6,8 and 11); String Arrangements (2 and 11)
* Keri Kelli - Guitars (5,7 and 9)
* Jason Hook - Guitars (5)
* Slash - Lead Guitar (2)
* Whitey Kirst - Guitars (8)
* Chuck Garric - Bass Guitars (2,7 and 9); Backing Vocals (2)
* Eric Singer - Drums (1,2,4,5,6,7,9 and 11)
* David Piribauer - Drums (8 and 10)
* Steffen Presley - B3 Organ (6)
* Ozzy Osbourne - Harmonica (3) (Uncredited)
* Bernard Fowler - Backing Vocals (1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 and 11)
* Calico Cooper - Backing Vocals (5); Spoken Word (9)
1. "Prologue / I Know Where You Live" (Cooper, Saber, Hampton)- 4:21
2. "Vengeance Is Mine" (Featuring Slash) (Cooper, Saber, Hampton) - 4:26
3. "Wake The Dead" (Featuring Ozzy Osbourne) (Cooper, Osbourne, Saber) - 3:53
4. "Catch Me If You Can" (Cooper, Saber, Hampton) - 3:15
5. "(In Touch With) Your Feminine Side" (Cooper, Garric, Johnson, Kelli) - 3:16
6. "Wrapped In Silk" (Cooper, Saber, Hampton) - 4:17
7. "Killed By Love" (Cooper, Garric, Bacchi, Kelli) - 3:34
8. "I'm Hungry" (Cooper, Saber, Hampton) - 3:58
9. "The One That Got Away" (Cooper, Kelli, Lane) - 3:21
10. "Salvation" (Cooper, Saber, Hampton, Fowler) - 4:36
11. "I Am The Spider / Epilogue" (Cooper, Saber, Hampton) - 5:21
Here's the trailer for the album!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Prologue/I Know Where You Live
2 Vengeance Is Mine
3 Wake The Dead
4 Catch Me If You Can
5 (In Touch With) Your Feminine Side
6 Wrapped In Silk
7 Killed By Love
9 The One That Got Away
11 I Am The Spider/Epilogue