Detroit-born Alice Cooper has remained on rock’s radar for more than 50 years. At his best, he spins a catchy blend of classic rock, pop and witty, incisive lyrics. In less-inspired moments, he is guilty of churning out campy, formulaic filler. His latest album, Detroit Stories, is a largely strong effort that ultimately delivers both.
An ode to his hometown, the album opens with Rock & Roll, a Velvet Underground cover that pairs Cooper with Detroit’s Mitch Ryder and Joe Bonamassa for a funked-up blowout, complete with a walloping, shout-out chorus. Other guest appearances include MC5’s Wayne Kramer, original Alice Cooper members Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith, plus members of his current band, Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farmer and U2’s Larry Mullen.
Though dominated by revved-up garage rockers like Go Man Go, I Hate You and a jumpy cover of MC5’s Sister Anne, the most interesting offering here is Our Love Will Change The World – a polished and cartoonishly upbeat singalong with scathing lyrics about the rise of cancel culture. Think Herman’s Hermits on a bad acid trip.
Now 72, Alice delivers strong, bluesy vocals, showcased on tracks like $1000 High Heel Shoes, a stupidly catchy R&B cut with a bouncy Motown tempo. In the filler department, Shut Up And Rock is as dreary as the title suggests and Wonderful World is a brooding midtempo number that finishes before it ever really takes off. The album ends with another cover, Bob Seger’s East Side Story – a blatant rip-off of Van Morrison’s Gloria but a rousing closer nonetheless.
While the album has its misses, Alice and legendary producer Bob Ezrin have convened the right musicians for some of his best material in years. A mature, ambitious and overall satisfying album, Detroit Stories sees Alice Cooper doing what he does best and having a hell of a good time along the way.