A reissue from the newish Armoury Classics label (a division of Eagle Rock Entertainment), here we have a box set of two latter day releases from the one and only Alice Cooper. Obviously I had heard all his well known tracks beforehand, but I first got into Alice properly around the time of his comeback 'Constrictor' in 1986. I've since bought all of his albums, old and new, so already own these two, but it's sometimes nice to revisit and reappraise, especially when the music is as enjoyable as this. Like most people with long careers, Alice has had his peaks and troughs but, personally, I think his albums from the last 10-15 years have been some of his most underrated and consistent, and he still puts on a heck of a live show.
'The Eyes Of Alice Cooper', originally released in 2003, was his 23rd album and saw him move away from the more industrial feel of 'Brutal Planet' and 'Dragontown', and return to the hard rock sound of his earlier albums. His trademark snarly vocals are spot on and his band are tight. Alice has a habit of writing foot tapping rock with great melody, but what I love about him most are his lyrics. Sometimes comedic and sometimes deadly serious, he never fails to create an emotional response in me. Whether I'm smiling, sad or scared, his words are fabulous. Opener 'Man Of The Year', ‘Novocaine’, ‘Detroit City’ or the very funny 'The Song That Didn't Rhyme' are all perfect examples. Okay, there isn't a standout huge song like 'School's Out' or ‘Only Women Bleed' but then Alice has already done that hasn't he? What you will get is a very good rock album perfect for a night with mates and the alcohol of your choice.
The second album in this set is 'Dirty Diamonds' from 2005. Like its predecessor, it has a more stripped back 70s rock sound and, if anything, is even more raw in the production department than 'Eyes'. You get thirteen great tracks delivered in Cooper's distinctive style. That style is, of course, pretty much any direction that he wants to go in. Alice Cooper albums tend to be a lot more diverse than some would give him credit for and 'Dirty Diamonds' is no exception. Once again, his lyrics and delivery are superb; just check out the sublime 'The Saga Of Jesse Jane' and revel in such classic lines as "I'm In jail in a Texas town, in my Sister's wedding gown" or "Well I guess that was the final straw, I pulled a pistol from my wonder bra" (pure gold). 'Woman of Mass Distraction', 'Sunset Babies (All Got Rabies)' and the brilliant 'Run Down The Devil' all need to be turned up loud and appreciated.
Both of these albums are definitely worth getting hold of if you haven't picked them up in the past but a little part of me is wondering why this set has been released now. Granted, they weren't Cooper's biggest sellers and do deserve to be recognised but this Armoury Classics reissue is a mid price, no bonus material edition and, as the albums are still readily available separately, at a good price, I'm not quite sure who this is aimed at. But hey, my main objective is to try and describe the music and, on that count, there are no complaints. Alice really doesn't need to release a new album every 2-3 years, he could quite easily tour the nostalgia circuit very lucratively with his early music, but I'm sure glad he does.
THE EYES OF ALICE COOPER + DIRTY DIAMONDS
Review by Rick Tilley
42:19 & 45:27
20th Jan 2014
THE EYES OF ALICE COOPER: 1) What Do You Want From Me?; 2) Between High School & Old School; 3) Man of the Year; 4) Novocaine; 5) Bye Bye, Baby; 6) Be With You Awhile; 7) Detroit City; 8) Spirits Rebellious; 9) This House is Haunted; 10) Love Should Never Feel Like This; 11) The Song That Didn't Rhyme; 12) I'm So Angry; 13) Backyard Brawl
DIRTY DIAMONDS: 1) Woman of Mass Destruction; 2) Perfect; 3) You Make Me Wanna; 4) Dirty Diamonds; 5) The Saga of Jesse James; 6) Sunset Babies (All Got Rabies); 7) Pretty Ballerina; 8) Run Down the Devil; 9) Steal That Car; 10) Six Hours... 13) Stand
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Like most people with long careers, Alice has had his peaks and troughs but...his albums from the last 10-15 years have been some of his most underrated and consistent..."