Bigger Picture (2011)
From Michael Jackson’s zombie dancing in “Thriller” to Slipknot’s famed alter egos and the psycho-clown affectations of the Juggalo rap subculture, horror has long been one of the elements flowing through the bloodstream of popular music. The main instigator of this infection is Alice Cooper, the godfather of shock-rock whose success in his 40+ year career is as much down to colorful stage shows and ghoulish story concepts as it is to the music. Celebrating the 35th anniversary of his first solo album—when he actually broke from the band whose name he later took—Cooper has now released what is touted as its follow-up, both in terms of the narrative carried by the songs and the musical personnel involved, notably producer Bob Ezrin. Like its earlier near namesake, Welcome 2 My Nightmare is a rich and diverse platter with an underlying story. Musical styles range from the Stones-esque rock of “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” and the Tom Waits-inspired “Last Man on Earth” to “The Congregation,” which is a clear tip of the hat to Oasis, and “Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever”—which speaks for itself. Stand out tracks like opener “I Am Made of You,” with its searing solo, and the ballsy duet with Ke$ha, “What Baby Wants,” make the point that AC is a timeless rock institution—although the zombie make-up probably helps.