As Halloween approaches Welcome to my Nightmare is my album of choice for this hallowed night. I remember spending the night at a friend’s house to back in 1975 to watch the TV debut of the Welcome to my Nightmare film. The show started at midnight, It did not disappoint two 14 year old boys. “soooo Alice”.
The album begins with the title track, a funky song with strong Broadway leanings. It’s quite a nice introduction, what with its catchy melody and well-arranged brass section designed to rile up listeners and set the tone for the rest of the album. That’s followed with an excessively campy though entertaining dialogue bit from actor Vincent Price (he’s the ideal person for that sort of thing).
Even though there’s a lot of Broadway stuff here, Cooper doesn’t forget that he’s still considered Hard Rock in some parts, so “Cold Ethyl”, the ultimate shock-rocker about necrophilia, is the straightest Hard Rock song, though has a better riff and incorporates more theatrical ideas. “The Department of Youth” is more of a pop-rocker, it’s especially well-done with the catchiest melody on the whole album, and an extremely memorable chorus.
The ‘masterpiece’ though comes at the end of the album, with a three-part suite – a sort of psychological horror story about a boy named Steven with a double personality. The aesthetics in “Years Ago” was masterfully done, and the main song “Steven” ranks as one of the best-written songs on the whole album, also with brilliant arrangements. “The Awakening” is a little less passionate, and the instrumentals aren’t nearly as interesting, but even that has some merit.
Without the pioneering Alice Cooper, there would be no Marilyn Manson, Lady Gaga or any of a number of modern derivative acts. Welcome to My Nightmare fully deserves its status as one of Alice Cooper’s most celebrated albums. The foremost reason for that is that the songs are obviously very well-written, and the arrangements are rather inspired. Furthermore, the campy horror movie theme is a complete blast, and that’s a quality that makes this work stand out as among the finest and most unique albums in rock’n’roll.
Enjoy the music- David