Release date: September 13, 2011
When news spread that Alice Cooper would reunite with legendary producer Bob Ezrin to record a follow up to his 1975 classic Welcome To My Nightmare… well let’s just say a lot of rock zombies sat up in their graves and took notice.
What would Welcome 2 My Nightmare possibly bring us to fan the flames of brilliance the duo gave us some 36 years ago? Fans who go into Welcome 2 My Nightmare expecting something in accord with its predecessor will be disappointed. With brief exception, the two albums have little in common with each other, sonically speaking. While the original encapsulated a moment in time, the follow-up encapsulates a career.
The opening track, “I Am Made of You” is a touch deceiving. The song starts with the piano intro used in 1975’s “Steven”, giving us a thin thread of continuity to that early masterpiece. Likewise, “The Nightmare Returns” rings of the original as well. The album opener went from giving me a chill when I heard that revisited piano from “Steven”, but the use of an auto-tuner left me cold.
The album’s second track, “Caffeine” which separates the two aforementioned songs has much more in common with 1980’s Flush The Fashion record. Buckcherry guitarist Keith Nelson helped pen this ditty. “Runaway Train has some of that same vibe, though lyrically it has more in common with 1976’s Alice Cooper Goes To Hell. Alice has never had an issue with genre bending, and this is one of a couple of songs that has an uptempo almost countryish feel to it. Famed Cooper bassist Dennis Dunaway co-wrote the track with Ezrin and Alice.
Another Cooper alumni, drummer Neil Smith co-wote the lead off single “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” which feels like a Stones song with Cooper’s darkly twisted lyrics. This might be a modern cousin to 1975’s “Escape”, while “The Congregation” feels like the sequel to “Department of Youth”.
“Last Man On Earth” could have easily gone on Alice Cooper Goes To Hell, with its jazzy Bourbon Street vibe, and its tongue-in-cheek lyrical content. A whimsical modern day, “Some Folks”?
For more of that warped Cooper sense of humor Alice gives us “Ghouls Gone Wild” and “Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever”.
Another old Coop comrade, guitarist Dick Wagner brings his songwriting magic to “Something To Remember Me By”, which fits right into the classic Cooper ballad mold alongside the likes of “Only Women Bleed” and “I Never Cry”, which the two also co-wrote together.
“When Hell Comes Home” rings true with that sinister Cooper feel that made him a shock rock icon.
Singer Kei$ha turns up on the 80’s pop duet “What Baby Wants” which has more in common with Michael Jackson‘s “Beat It” than anything Alice is known for. Kei$ha also co-wrote the track, but I hope Jackson’s estate is getting some money from this, because this is pretty obvious rip-off all around. Oh, and the freaking auto-tuner is back.
Country artist Vince Gill, a renowned golfer like Alice, turns up on “I Gotta Get Outta Here” on lead guitar. Once again though, this track is more befitting of a …Goes To Hell remake.
Welcome 2 My Nightmare is pure Alice Cooper, but a modern vision showing the various scope of how that nightmare has grown. The standard version offers us 14 tracks including the the final song, an instrumental, “The Underture” which takes us back to the beginning and touching on all the great memories of the original masterpiece. A fitting end.
One of the album’s strongest tracks, “Under The Bed”, which most fits the original album, did not even make the cut. Poor choice by the label. Fans can only get it on the Best Buy edition.
There comes great risk when creating a sequel of any kind, but in this case, Cooper and Ezrin have attempted to recapture lightning in a bottle. A sure impossibility. Welcome To My Nightmare is one of rock’s most seminal and iconic albums. It is beloved by rock fans everywhere. In contrast Welcome 2 My Nightmare is fun and likeable, but certainly not on the hallowed ground of its predecessor. The album also lacks the aural continuity from track to track — it just doesn’t flow.
This is not a bookend to Welcome To My Nightmare, but rather an (at times) inspired contemporary companion piece that journals everything Alice once was and has become. A required edition to the brilliant discography of a master.