Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Alice Cooper fan, from the time I raided my big brother’s room and absconded with his Alice Cooper Goes to Hell vinyl many years ago. My little Radio Shack turntable was never the same, and I loved its ability to stack multiple records for continuous listening, which was useful when I pillaged my brother’s collection for more Alice Cooper albums. Would his latest record make the stack if I still owned that beloved stereo?
Paranormal is the newest album from shock rock master Alice Cooper. It was released last month. This time around fans are treated to not one, but two discs. The first contains 10 new tracks from the current Alice Cooper lineup, while the second reunites the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper Band (guitarist Glen Buxton passed away in 1997). Cooper, together with bassist Dennis Dunaway, guitarist Michael Bruce, and drummer Neal Smith, recorded two new songs for this album, and six live tracks from a 2016 Columbus, Ohio show round out the remainder of the disc. Also making appearances are Roger Glover of Deep Purple, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and Larry Mullen Jr. of U2.
In my opinion, the best songs tell a story, and there’s no shortage of them on Paranormal. If I can envision a video about the tale, then it’s even better. One of my favorite songs on Paranormal is “Dynamite Road.” There’s a car crash and the devil’s involved. Sounds good, right? It’s fast and fun to hear while zipping down the road; add it to your driving playlist.
In “Fallen in Love,” the singer laments that he’s not the stud he used to be. It’s a fun, catchy song, which cleverly incorporates song titles from previous albums into the lyrics. It’s my current earworm.
While the opening song “Paranormal” is a haunting tune which seems to describe a visit from beyond, “Fireball” is downright scary. A nightmare about the end of the world becomes reality upon the dawn of a new day
The single for this album is “Paranoiac Personality,” where the subject appears to be losing his grip, which may lead to a “Private Public Breakdown.”
Disc two is a real treat for long-time fans. Cooper, Dunaway, Bruce and Smith joined forces to bring Genuine American Girl and You and All of Your Friends to Paranormal. I hope that was a taste of even more songs to come. One could only hope. Because of the humor, Genuine American Girl, is my favorite of the two. The remaining tracks are live recordings of Alice Cooper hits “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Under My Wheels,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” “Feed My Frankenstein,” “Only Women Bleed,” and “School’s Out” with the 2016 lineup.
Now for the packaging. If you’re old school like me and buy physical copies of music, you may have an appreciation for everything from the cover art to the liner notes. Paranormal has a photo of Alice Cooper on the front on a white background. The digipak opens to reveal an ominous gray sky above the trees in the art found beneath the CDs. It reminds me of Halloween. The included booklet has some pictures of the shock rocker throughout, and has easy to read black letters on a white background, so it serves its purpose well. I like to read the words as I’m listening to an album for the first time, the songs always in order.
So why do I like this album so much? The tunes are witty, some with dark humor, and each tells a story on its own. Let’s not forget that it’s a rock album, and it does just that. It’s evident that the pioneer of shock rock enjoys what he does, and he’s not done yet.
I’ve seen Alice Cooper multiple times over the years, and I am looking forward to this month’s concert with Deep Purple. He always brings something new to his live performance, and his stage show never gets old no matter how many times I’ve seen it. There’s always something different about it each tour. Paranormal is yet another great album from a great artist. Be sure to pick it up if you haven’t already. I think you’ll love it to death!