Alice Cooper‘s well-known focus of the macabre and embrace of the death stench that seemed to surround rock ‘n’ roll in the early ’70s inevitably led him to the Hollywood Vampires, an all-star project that makes a furious attempt at resurrecting “dead drunk friends” – or at least the debauched ethos that once surrounded their music.
Dominated by edgy updates of songs by long-gone figures like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and John Lennon, Hollywood Vampires’ self-titled debut album isn’t the melancholy dirge it might have been under someone else’s tutelage. There’s nothing here as delirious as the tales of Cooper’s long-ago, booze-soaked escapades with Lennon, Keith Moon, Micky Dolenz, Harry Nilsson and others — or at least nothing here feels too much like a celebration.
Instead, from the first fog-enshrouded recitation by late horror legend Christopher Lee through two gloriously grim originals and string of covers, the Hollywood Vampires push back with bleak humor and fizzy anger against the dying of the light. Along the way, the album achieves – like the best of Cooper’s work – a brilliant, brooding dissonance.
The core members of Cooper’s new Hollywood Vampires lineup – focused in the modern era on songcraft, rather than carousing – include Johnny Depp and Joe Perry. Depp, who had an early music career before becoming an actor, first worked with Cooper on the movie Dark Shadows, where they discovered a shared passion for British Invasion-era music and, as this album makes abundantly clear, a dark view of things.
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