Friday, January 10, 2003

Review: Alice Cooper - Dragontown (2001)

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Spitfire Records

Alice Cooper - the name has become synonymous with Shock Rock. And well it should be, as Alice can be credited with founding the subgenre back in the late 1960s and early '70s. After peaking in the mid-'70s, Alice resurrected his career in the late 1980s by sticking with his horror- and sex-laden lyrics but setting them to a Hair Metal sound. Phase two of the Alice Cooper Phenomenon ended with the platinum Pop Metal album Trash. Once again The Coop faded from commercial success only to return in the mid-90s, this time with a much heavier and dark metal sound combined with bleak, apocalyptic lyrics. And so enters Dragontown, the third installment of a Doomsday-themed trilogy that began with The Last Temptation.

As soon as you pop the disc in the player you're kicked square in the mouth by "Triggerman", definately the heaviest and best song on the album. The rest of Dragontown is not a downhill journey by any means.On the heels of "Triggerman" is "Deeper", an equally heavy but much slower-paced kick to the ribs. The title track does show signs of weakness, but the melodies of the chorus save this song from being mere filler. "Disgraceland" is actually a quite humorous parody of the entity that was Elvis Presley - "he lived on southern deep-fried spam/killed on pills and woke in Disgraceland". Classic. Alice once again attempts the power ballad with "Every Woman Has A Name" and comes up big. Ever since the awful "Only My Heart Talkin'" from Trash, I have cringed at the thought of Alice as a crooner but he definately pulls it off here. The one song that I feel has no place on this disc is "Somewhere In The Jungle", an attempt to call attention to the constant state of warfare and genocide in Africa. Musically it is out of place from the rest of the album, and lyrically it's not Alice at his best. I wonder if producer Bob Marlette actually had more to do with this letdown....

On the subject of the production, Dragontown is flawless. The artwork is quite nightmarish, and it fits perfectly with the gloomy and sinister atmosphere projected by the music. Dragontown certainly has a couple of weak points but this is an album that ranks among Alice's best.

Track Listing
4Sex, Death and Money
5Fantasy Man
6Somewhere in the Jungle
8Sister Sara
9Every Woman Has A Name
10I Just Wanna Be God
11It's Much Too Late
12The Sentinel
Total Runtime

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