Brutal Planet should have been a great album, what with the presence of Ezrin. However, one of the busiest producers around, Bob Marlette, got his hands on it and made it sound far too generic. The riffs were dull and the album thudded boringly, with so little of that classic Alice personality.
Dragontown is like Alice waking up. It's a transition from Brutal Planet to Eyes Of, which celebrated a return to classic 70's Alice. It's not quite there yet, but it's getting there. Marlette is still producing, but this time he and Cooper have decided to brighten the whole affair.
There are a couple really outstanding songs here. "Every Woman Has A Name" sounds like something Alice would have done with Ezrin. It's a lush song with strings that recalls "Only Women Bleed" or "It's Only My Heart Talking". Also great is "It's Much Too Late", which reminds me of "Wind Up Toy" from 1991. It has a lot of the old Alice 70's vibe too, it's fantastic. Very pop. Modern production is left off this one, the instruments sound cleaner and bright.
"Triggerman", the opening track, is fast with an industrial sound, but with much more emphasis on melody than Brutal Planet. "Disgraceland" features Alice doing quite a great Elvis impersonation, and the band are kicking back in a rockabilly groove too. Some might consider this track fluff, and it's definitely different than any other on the album, but it's pretty fun.
Unfortunately "Deeper" is just basically a rewrite of Brutal Planet's title track, with some "Blessed By Fire" mixed in. Just a boring, uninteresting track, with terrible sounding cymbal samples and a muddy riff that is just horrifically generic.
The bonus disc here is totally worth owning, even for casual Alice fans. Actually, especially for them in a way, because it'll give them exposure to some other awesome Alice tracks they may have missed. "Go To Hell" and "Dwight Fry" are live. (I cannot tell you if they are same versions as on Brutally Live or not, but I suspect that they are.) "Clowns Will Eat Me" was previously only available on Japanese import, and it's a great party track that fits much better in Dragontown than Brutal Planet for which it was recorded. Finally there's the remix of "Brutal Planet" itself which gives it a Rob Zombie feel. It's not a superior mix, (I miss the female backing vocal) but I always dig robots talking.
on September 24, 2002
It's Armageddon R.S.V.P.
Babylon's burning sea to sea."
--A&M recording artist Michael Anderson, 1988
Alice Cooper releases "Dragontown" again, and the original disc is still the same old gloomy thing it was a year ago, not that I didn't dig it.
We will focus on the bonus disc here, leading off with "Clowns Will Eat Me," available since the original release of "Brutal Planet" in 2000, Japanese release only.
I always liked "Clowns," when it was on my hard-drive a long time ago. It's finally nice to have it on regular CD... I guess. I can't deny feeling like Jimmy Fallon, insincere and with my hair sticking up ...
It is a really good song, but has very little to do with the Brutal/Dragontown theme, so far as I can see.
We have live versions of "Go to Hell" and "Ballad of Dwight Fry," both from the "Brutally Live" DVD soundtrack.
They are both stellar performances.
The gem here is the "Brutal Planet" re-mix. When I first heard the original, alcohol logged and through tinny speakers reaching my tinny ears (in May, 2000), I thought, "That siren's got to go!"
I have since come to love the siren, or the guitars which I think sound like a siren. It's appropriate for a Brutal Planet headed toward Armageddon.
However, I missed my fun-loving Alice, but only a little because of songs like "It's the Little Things" (featured on computer-playable video here, Quicktime preferred). Most of the CD was very dark, and "Dragontown" was even way, way darker.
"Brutal Planet" re-mix features an outright danceable version. I'm reminded of the guy who used to dance by himself in the middle of the Amarillo Civic Center in the early '80s during intermissions of rock shows. I will never forget him swaying to Black Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell," all by himself.
This re-mix is for him!
I do love it, but I'm old enough to be a parent, really (even though I'm not) of the younger ones who love the harder edge of the original.
So I guess I can just take Alice's cue from "Flush the Fashion" in 1980, from the kid's perspective:
I get a kiss good-bye
I get all numb and high
From all the smoke left on their breath
I smile and wish them well
Then I pray like hell
They go and dance themselves to death
Come on momma
Come on daddy
Come on skinny
Come on fatty
Shake it Martha
Shake it Larry
Shake it Mr. Coronary
You gotta dance dance
Come on and dance dance
Dance til you're outta breath
If it's all the same to you, I WILL be dancing to it. I love the re-mix!
(Also featured is the video for "Gimme.")
on October 26, 2001
I'll admit it, I'm an AC fan from the old days all the way up through. Classics like School's out, though, somehow seem to get lost in today's mainstream. Dragontown is the next transistion for the freakish icon, one that we've watched coming while a newly maturing sound went through it's phases. Constricter, good as it was, died to many AC fans. Teash tried to catch the ears of a new generation, with it's pop sounding Trash and love ballads, but like many pop albums, it began to go flat. Hey Stoopid marked a new return though, a heavier sound that evolved quickly, keeping alice's sarcasm and twisted humor, with a much heavier beat. Last Temptation returned us to Alice's roots, with Steven intact, and gave us AC fans new confidence. Then Alice shocked us. Brutal Panet was a hard cutting, heavy ripping modern metal masterpeice. The lyrics came right out of a twisted mind watching CNN. And though it was definatly a much harder, mush reborn Alice.. It did lack something. Dragontown, in my opinion, brings us full circle..to a hard edged, sarcastic Alice that has you both shocked and laughing at the same time. Fantasy Man is a twisted self esteem tune that no one else could pull off. DisGraceland shows the full darker humor, as Alice sings out in Elvis's voice, basically taunting those that consider Elvis a god. and speaking of God.. I Want to be God is an amazing, and, of course, easily misundersttod song. It's Too Late carries the typical Alice Harmonies, and twisted point of view..
To make this short, buy it. It doesn't matter if you're an Alice fan from 20 years back like me, or a new metal fan that owns every Rob Zombie album. There's something in here for you.
on October 17, 2001
I'm glad Alice Cooper is still around. His distinctive, unique voice and "shock rock" antics have been part of Americana for three decades. Let's face it: the man is an icon.
Brutal Planet, Alice's previous album, blew me away. I hadn't heard anything that heavy -- yet enjoyable to listen to -- in a long, long time. Not since the first couple of Black Sabbath albums, anyway. (I defy any modern rock artist to create guitar riffs as dark and heavy as those found on nearly 30-year-old Black Sabbath albums!) It was classic Alice, yet it was a sound as fresh (and, to my taste, irritating) as anything available today.
Dragontown, the new album, is every bit as irritating with its bone-crushing, atonal guitar riffs and sometimes monotone, sometimes screaming vocal style so prevalent today. Yet, there's something missing this time around. Frankly, I don't think the songs are as good. (I'm listening to Brutal Planet right now, on the heels of Dragontown, and I notice the difference between the two albums immediately.)
If you think of Dragontown as Brutal Planet Lite you'll have a pretty good idea what this album is all about.
If you liked Brutal Planet, chances are you'll like Dragontown. If you like Alice Cooper, chances are you'll like Dragontown. If you like today's overdriven guitar groups, chances are you'll like Dragontown.
But those are a lot of "ifs" and a lot of "chances."
The bottom line: The latest two albums are not your father's Alice Cooper. Dragontown will require some getting used to and probably won't be as accessible as even Brutal Planet was, although it's similar in many ways.
Your best bet is to find a place that sells Dragontown that allows you to preview some tracks before you buy it. If you like what you hear, pick it up.
Overall, I'm not sorry I bought Dragontown, but I'm not exactly thrilled with it, either. Maybe it'll grow on me.
on October 17, 2001
Alice has another hit, a great follow-up/companion to the fantastic 'surprise' hit of last year, 'Brutal Planet'. Dragontown is 90-95% as good, and definitely in the same vein in terms of theme, sound, etc. Most everything that needs to be said already has, I cannot recommend this album higher, but I will just add the two following comments:
1) Two new Alice studio albums within a year of each other? And top quality ones at that? How lucky are those of us Alice fans with that? The last time that happened was in the mid-80's, if even then (I'm thinking of Constrictor-Raise Your Fist and Yell, which sound-wise but definitely not theme-wise are his closest comparisons to his 2000's releases). This is truly the Cooper renaissance.
2) The grouping of Brutal Planet and Dragontown with The Last Temptation, is, IMHO, completely inappropriate. While the themes are SOMEWHAT similar (and I even think that's a stretch, TLT is a total concept, story-telling album) the sounds of these latest two are very different and much heavier and better than TLT. Plus TLT came out in what, 1994? Doesn't fit. BP and DT are great companions, no need to stick the mediocre TLT in there with them.
3) Alice not in the Rock n Roll hall of fame? A complete travesty, that I'm sure will be corrected soon. He has done so much for rock-n-roll, and has a career that started in the 60s that is still going STRONG. How many other bands can claim that? Plus, his exhibit would be great; probably the only one with a guillotine.
on October 14, 2001
Veteran shock rocker Alice Cooper's 2001 follow up to the fantastic "BRUTAL PLANET" (2000) isn't quite as satisfying, but is an enormously entertaining album as well. The album consists of twelve tracks (written by Cooper and Bob Marlette) that detail the inhabitants and goings-on in Dragontown, the bleakest location on Brutal Planet. Each track is briskly paced and the choruses are as memorable as ever. The music backing Alice's superb vocals is heavy, ugly and, most importantly, contemporary. The entire feel of the disc is darkness, rage and despair. If that appeals to you (as it does to me), then you'll easily overlook the flaws. For some odd reason, most of the tracks don't sound quite complete. It's almost as if the released version of the album is missing a few guitar or bass riffs here and there. Also there are times when the mix itself doesn't sound quite right and the instruments drown out the vocals a bit (particularly during the first track "Triggerman"). Fans of Alice Cooper and fans of just the darker side of life in general should really get a kick out of this album though. Upon first listen it sounded like a bare bones version of "BRUTAL PLANET" but as I listened more and more I realized what a truly original piece of work "DRAGONTOWN" really is. Although not as fully developed all around as his previous effort, "DRAGONTOWN" captures the angry, freaky Alice at his anti-establishment best!
on October 13, 2001
Alice Cooper, the legend continues his incredible career into 2001 an what an album this is. When i read reviews i need a basis for comparison so this is a short list of bands i love; Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, AC/DC etc. This album follows the heaviness of last years wick Brutal Planet but the songs just seem to have more complexity to them which is great.
The lyrics are brilliant; funny, sad, freaky which adds to the power of these songs. Great guitar riffs, drumming, and of course; unbelievable vocals.
The songs all have alot of melody interwoven with the force of the crunchy guitars. It is a blessing to see that albums of this quality are still being produced, thank the lord for Alice Cooper. Other great new albums ; Iron Maiden "Brave New World", Megadeth "World needs a hero", Saxon "Killing Ground"
If u like nu-metal [which i despise] then for christ sake...listen to the original metallers, they have the talent and still produce great music. Buy it NOW! ;)
on October 13, 2001
Alice's previous album, "Brutal Planet" is one of my favorite albums of the past decade or so - and this is coming from someone who listens to a lot of different music, from jazz and avant-garde to rockabilly and surf! "Dragontown" is nearly as good as BP, and is perhaps a little more varied in style. From hyper-rock ("Triggerman") to to shockabiilly ("Disgraceland")And of course AC still manages to include a heartfelt ode to womanhood ("Every Woman Has A Name")! *sniff*
It seems to me that Alice Cooper has become one of the more astute chroniclers of life on planet Earth in the new milleneum. "Brutal Planet" and "Dragontown", indeed... Listening to Alice lately is kind of like watching CNN.
Props also go out to guitarist Ryan Roxie, who is just incredible at blending the old-style, kind of glammy AC riffs with an amazing neo-crunch sound that will make your ears bleed quite happily.
Alice Cooper is producing the albums that bands like Marilyn Manson and Ministry have been striving for for years!
on October 13, 2001
Alice Cooper has come out of the closet - as a Christian rocker, that is. That label may be anathema to his legion of loyal fans, but it's stamped all over the lyrics to his latest album, "Dragontown."
With its front and back covers depicting a maniacal Cooper in full make-up wielding a sword and looking like an extra from a John Carpenter film, "Dragontown" seems an unlikely candidate for the Christian Rock category. And with songs created from the point of view of a sexually promiscuous nun ("Sister Sara"), a religious terrorist ("The Sentinel"), a pornography addict ("Sex Death and Money") and an atheist ("I Just Wanna Be God"), the album seems even further divorced from any pro-religion stance.
But consider: Dragontown is Cooper's thinly disguised version of Hell, where all of the album's characters are suffering eternal punishment since their deaths. A hapless man arrives in "Dragontown" after the elevator he was in breaks ("Deeper") and when he hits bottom, he finds himself in a nebulous rock and roll purgatory, with the Alice character as tour guide (the title cut). Cooper doesn't preach, but the lyrics make it clear that all the sufferers are here because of the way they chose to live.
Cooper employs all his considerable narrative and shock-rock skills to describe the denizens of Dragontown. Some are surprised to find themselves in Hell; others recognize it as a foregone conclusion. Along the way, characters from the "Brutal Planet" album make guest appearances, most notably the Wicked Young Man who plotted to blow up his school, and the Bone family, annihilated during a nuclear attack and who died, presumably, without salvation.
If all this sounds like grim listening, it is. Luckily, Cooper's sense of humor hasn't abandoned him. "Disgraceland" pokes fun at Elvis ("he finished his life sweaty and bloated and stoned/ he ruled his domain and he died on the throne"), and "Fantasy Man," a tribute to every guy who's spent Sunday afternoon belching his way through a football game in front of the TV ("I don't do dishes/and I'm suspicious/of any grown up man who does"). Throw in the obligatory ballad ("Every Woman Has A Name") and a snappy, up-tempo single (the album opening "Triggerman") and you've got a got a scenario tailor-made for Cooper's trademark live performances.
Long-time fans will be glad that Cooper and co-collaborator Bob Marlette have toned down the generic guitar-crunching sound of "Brutal Planet" considerably in favor of more diverse musical accompaniment. Don't worry, there are still plenty of six-string riffs to go around (and a few still sound like refugees from a Metallica sound-check), but most of the melodies are more substantial this time around.
Musical labels aside, the bottom line is that Cooper has crafted one of his better solo efforts here, a heady mix of apocalyptic lyrics and swirling sounds that finds the venerable shock-rocker, and many of his fans, in uncharted territory. If the end is nigh, it's at least a comfort to have Alice as a tour guide.
on October 11, 2001
What more can you say about Alice Cooper? Here's a guy that justified his career years ago but, amazingly, has released some of the best material of his career on his last three CDs.
I've only listened to Dragontown twice so far, but already I like it better than last years Brutal Planet, which I liked. It seems a perfect compromise of the heavy sounds of Brutal Planet with the melodic, moody ambience evoked by Bob Ezrin on Welcome to My Nightmare or the unknown classic, DaDa.
Who else can tell dark stories like Alice Cooper? Tracks like Dragontown and Deeper are powerful and eerie. Who else can mix heavy riffs with quality ballads like Every Woman Has a Name? Who else can do satire on the level of Frank Zappa on songs like Disgraceland (an incredible parody of Elvis, no less)? Alice Cooper's varied talents are showcased on Dragontown, an amazing and unique CD from a severely underrated artist.
If you like hard rock/heavy metal (and I don't even think that's essential to enjoying this album) and you like some intelligence and humor with your dark nightmares, then Dragontown is your album. Dragontown is an album Rod Serling would have made if he were a rock star. Five stars with no hesitation.
ATTENTION: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That Alice Cooper hasn't even been nominated makes the whole thing a sham. Dragontown is yet another great album in the long and illustrious career of this influential performer. Everyone on the nominating committee is hereby exiled to dragontown!