Review: Septuagenarian Alice Cooper Remains Driven on ‘Road’

Alice Cooper
4 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

I’m Alice! declares the man previously known, at least to his mom, as Vincent Furnier on the opening track of Alice Cooper’s 22nd studio album. He follows that introduction (I know what you want / I know what you need) with “Welcome to the Show.” It’s a one-two punch that’s as succinct an overview as anyone who might be new to the septuagenarian rocker’s career needs.

It’s worth noting that the songs that created the backbone for Coop’s rise and continued stardom were collaborations with his original bandmates and producer. His name was one of four or five listed as writers to classics such as “Elected,” “I’m Eighteen,” “School’s Out” and others that have withstood the decades in his live show and created a unique persona that remains active.

While Road is no five-star masterpiece like the recently reissued and expanded Killer or School’s Out collections, Cooper has returned to co-writing the songs with members of his current touring outfit. He also employs producer Bob Ezrin, who notably helped create Cooper’s enduring ’70s work, to craft a 13-track set that is, perhaps unexpectedly, worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as his best.

From the fiery, riff rocking, Tom Morello assisted “White Line Frankenstein”— a tune about a trucker where the “white line” in the lyrics serves double duty as those on the road and sniffed up the nose— to the grinding guitars of “Dead Don’t Dance” (like the rest of these co-written with Ezrin), and the dreamy psychedelic “100 More Miles” about life on the endless highway (All I need is a little more speed and I’m home), Cooper sounds energized and often inspired. Not bad for 75.  

As you may surmise, this is a song cycle of sorts, about that age-old trope of touring and “the road” in general. But the songs are solid, the playing never feels rote or postured (well, they could have dropped the drum solo in an otherwise sturdy cover of The Who’s “Magic Bus”), and Coop’s voice hasn’t lost any of its sneering charm.

He’s not reinventing any wheels, but Road is an enjoyable, even impressive, release from an aging rock star who still, to trade on the album’s theme, has plenty of gas left in his tank.      

Photo by Jenny Risher / Grandstand

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