Newest Review: ... Cooper in unmistakable make-up looking nefarious and ready to stalk. For all the lavish stage shows, showmanship and presentation ... more
Along Came A Spider - Alice Cooper
Member Name: TheAdder
Along Came A Spider - Alice Cooper
Advantages: Great concept
Disadvantages: The overall production and average songs.
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...
Summary: Disappointing, but he'll back.