At long last, we have Welcome 2 My Nightmare. Yes, it really does harken back to the Alice Cooper sound of old. Yes, you can definitely tell when members of the original band are playing. Yes, these songs are very diverse. In fact Alice's sounds from many eras are revisited: disco Alice, rocker Alice, campy showtunes Alice, a slight nod and a wink to the stone ages and some Zappa-like inspiration. There's even surf-rock in "Ghouls Gone Wild", and elsewhere, a Kip Winger cameo. Unfortunately there also a bit of a modern touch: an unfortunate cameo by talentless musical saboteur, Kesha, and some electronic effects that I wasn't too into.
Regardless, Alice and Ezrin (let's give credit where credit is due, Ezrin is the George Martin of this album) have created here a modern masterpiece, a great record to cap Alice's modern career with one more undenialble winner. Welcome 2 My Nightmare contains a few musical interludes and clues from the first Nightmare, particurly "Steven", but it's mostly it's own beast. It is surprisingly listener-friendly, very melodic and 70's sounding with plenty of instrumentation and production value.
The prime influence here seems to be musicals and showtunes. And that's fine with me. Alice knows he's doing and sneers his way through these snappy numbers. Everything builds and changes and builds again, each song is constructed masterfully. Alice and Ezrin know what they're doing. Don't forget these are the guys who did "Gutter Cat Vs. The Jets" back in 1972.
My favourite tune: The Tom Waits-ish "The Last Man on Earth", a 1930's sounding showtune-esque classic, along the lines of Alice's previous song "Crazy Little Child" from Muscle of Love.
Second favourite: "The Underture", which reprises the greatest musical themes from both Nightmare albums in one grandios outro.
One really important thing I want to mention: This is the most fun Alice Cooper has been in while. Welcome 2 has humour and the musical chops to make the album a fun listen from start to back. Whether you like albums such as Brutal Planet or Along Came A Spider, they're not albums to make you chuckle along while you snap your fingers. Welcome 2 My Nightmare, like the original Nightmare from 1975, is a lot more fun.
And now, for the collectors, a word about bonus tracks. I am aware of the following, which I have collected
"Flatline", the LP bonus track. This electronic effects-laden sound piece should be more considered a Bob Ezrin construction. Alice did not write it and does not perform on it. It does, however pretty much conclusively answers the disposition of the album's main character. His fate, left somewhat ambiguous in the final vocal song, "I Gotta Get Out Of Here", is sealed.
"Poison", "The Black Widow", and "No More Mr. Nice Guy" are recent live tracks from the Download Festival. These are on the Deluxe Edition.
"Under The Bed", an excellent song that fits right in near the beginning of the story, is also a bonus track on the Deluxe Edition. Great song. Don't know why it's not in the main body of the album, since it has recurring musical themes in it and fits with the story!"
"A Bad Situation" sees Alice singing in an exagerrated Elvis Presley voice, but the song is a pretty straightforward rock track. These is a bonus track on a download edition.
"We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" is a cover of The Animals classic, recorded specifically to be a bonus tracks, also on a download edition.
So there you go! Hope that helps, collectors.