Originally Published: September 1975
Author: Meridee Merzer
Alice Cooper - Welcome To My Nightmare (Atlantic SD 18130)
Making his debut as a solo artist (without the rest of the group), the master of shockrock expands his musical direction towards more innovation and precision, blending fantasies and pathos with several thousand volts of electro-rock therapy. Producer Bob Ezrin and Alice's new backup musicians (featuring several ex-Lou Reed sidemen) have pushed past heavy-metal banalities to include melodious ballads and hints at jazz-like complexity. The old, overblown theatrics have been transmuted into moments of genuine dramatic potency. Alice's trademark combination of raw fury, craziness, and humor remains, yet touches of vulnerability balance out the more blatant forays into horror and depravity.
Although the Coop's voice frequently is controlled, rich, and modulated on this lp, Alice can still strike terror into your eardrums with his patented sneer-leer brand of vocalizing (as in "Devil's Food"). But "Welcome To My Nightmare" has abandoned the old A.C. group's scream-your-guts-out psychosis for a more discreet case of straitjacketed schizophrenia. The album veers from blackhumor rockers ("Cold Ethyl") to a gentle acoustic ballad ("Only Women Bleed") to a lovely, loud, and gloriously rebellious youth anthem ("Department of Youth"). These songs-especially the informal suite about schizoid, murderous Steven-aren't merely sung; they are acted with intensity and conviction.
Perversion (Alice's old standby) receives ample play here-encompassing everything from necrophilia to transvestism. But the Cooper forte remains his slyly cynical, self-deprecating humor. For instance, in "Department of Youth" a kiddie chorus chortles, "We've got the power," while Alice demagogically rants, "And who gave it to you?" The kids respond gleefully, "Donny Osmond," and a horrified Alice can only emit a strangled "WHO???" Not many rock "idols" would voluntarily set themselves up for self-mockery. But Alice will. Alice will do anything. And he always has. So this time around, as Alice welcomes you to his nightmare, he's really welcoming you to another trek through a bizarrely all-American fun house of distorted mirrors and deliciously twisted thoughts. Dream on-and pleasant nightmares.