Welcome to My Nightmare

alice cooper_welcome to my nightmare

 

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

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Hollywood Vampires

hollywoodvampires

 

Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp raise the roof, and the dead, by resurrecting The Hollywood Vampires a gang of Rock n’ Roll legends who crawled the bars of Los Angeles in the dead of night back in the early 1970s. Cooper, who was one of these ghouls himself, gathers a large cast of music royalty to pay homage to fellow zombies Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon and John Lennon just to name a few by covering classic, rock standards by each to create this lively tribute/party record that’s perfect for any spooky Halloween gathering.

Hollywood Vampires
01 The Last Vampire
02 Raise The Dead
03 My Generation
04 Whole Lotta Love
05 I Got A Line
06 Five To One/Break On Through
07 One/Jump Into The Fire
08 Come And Get It
09 Jeepster
10 Cold Turkey
11 Manic Depression
12 Itchycoo Park
13 School’s Out/Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2
14 Dead Drunk Friends

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Scary Monsters

Bowie-Monsters

 

Today’s Runner is the high-energy dance album by 70s glam queen David Bowie. Scary Monsters makes a great soundtrack for an All Hallows’ Eve Party, packed with demos, sequels and b-sides, just right for this time of year, when it is perfectly acceptable to cross dress up. Enjoy!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Born To Run

BornToRun-cover

 

Here is another 40 year old, released in August of 1975. Some say it’s the greatest Rock & Roll album of all times. Certainly a masterpiece and one of the best coming out of the 70’s. Today’s Runner is Springsteen’s Born to Run.

Take it out for a spin!

BornToRun-jacket

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Wish You Were Here

pinkfloyd-wishyou

 

Today’s Runner is a musical postcard to founding father Syd Barrett. Wish You Were Here typifies, every bit as much as Dark Side, Pink Floyd’s creative, collaborative collective. This album, a portrait of Barrett’s slide, is the zenith of Floyd’s rise to success.

“. . . by the way, which one’s Pink?”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Tooth & Nail

BillyBragg-T&N

 

“I’m so tightly wound in tension, feel just like a guitar string. Waiting to reveal emotions, touch me and you’ll hear me sing…”

Singer song writer Billy Bragg has been crafting albums for well over 30 years. Throughout that time he has been the “working man’s” voice carrying the torch, once held by Woody Guthrie, then Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. His poetry has never brought him the fame and fortune the latter is known for, but his songs are every bit as germane and even more socially biting than those of his predecessors.

Bragg emerged from the volatile British Punk movement of the late 70’s writing and preforming protest songs with the punk group RIFF RAFF. After a short stint in the British Army, he returned to the music scene in the 80’s as a solo artist, opening for other bands, and playing where ever he could. Much like Woody Gutherie did in America during the great depression, Bragg found an audience for his music at leftist political rallies, strikes, and benefits across England. He developed a loyal following and released relevant social commentary, for the time, with albums like Talking with the Taxman About Poetry and Don’t try this at home. In the 90’s he started the Utility Record Label to give a voice to other less commercial new artists. In the late 90’s he teamed up with American alternative band Wilco to record a two volume collection of unpublished songs by Guthrie titled Mermaid Avenue.

His latest release, Tooth and Nail, finds Bragg slightly tempered, as he steps back and reflects internally on life and family. Songs like Do Unto Others, Swallow My Pride and Handyman Blues are beautifully crafted pieces that furnish comfort to the mind and soul. Bragg doesn’t completely buck tradition though. He is still aware of what’s going on around him, No One Knows Nothing Anymore and There will Be a Reckoning, but here he is also getting his own house in order, taking time, hanging curtains, mending fences, and finding solitude in sooth.

“There will be a reckoning. For the pedlars of hate. Who spread their poison all across this estate  And a reckoning too,  for the politicians who, left us to this fate. There will be a reckoning.”

Tooth and Nail is minimalistic, classic “William” at his best. Good stuff for all the hard working blokes out there.

Take it on the run, and Enjoy!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.