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I am what you would call an old school Cooper fan. I only discovered his music in 1987, but I still think his 70s music is the best. Still, I have loved pretty much everything he's ever done (except for his live FREAK OUT Song CD, which was not worth the cost of the crappy packaging they put it in!).
If you've listened to Cooper over the years you've probably noticed that his musical style is in constant flux, his latest two (BRUTAL PLANET and DRAGONTOWN) perhaps more than any.
I'm never sure quite what to expect with a new Alice Cooper CD.
The appearance of DRAGONTOWN in the music stores was a total shock to me. I try to keep up on when his new work is coming out, and given the fact that he has been going at least two years between releases lately, I was not expecting anything new from him for a while. One has to wonder a bit about the lack of fanfare for Dragontown. Me thinks the King of Shock Rock is not as well respected by the industry as he once was.
Though not as inspired as much of his work, DRAGONTOWN is a fun CD.
It starts with Triggerman, a fast paced - almost upbeat - tune about his archetype of death. Or maybe it's the devil he's singing about here; given the whole damnation theme it would make sense (for some reason DRAGONTOWN puts me in mind of Edward Lee's CITY INFERNAL). Okay, so I'm not sure exactly what he's singing about here, but it's a damn good song.
Deeper is probably the darkest song on this CD, and details the listener's descent into hell (the thing I like most about Cooper is that his songs tell a story, and that you, the listener, are along for the ride). This song is spiced with a few properly dark ambient interludes, and Kenny Aronoff gives a kick-ass performance on the drums in this one.
Sex, Death and Money is a song about decadence at its finest, with some amusingly dark insights into the minds and motivations of the "Do-Gooders" who hate it so much. This is my favorite song on the CD.
Alice Cooper has a wicked sense of humor, and it comes to play in songs like Disgraceland (a hilarious "Elvis In Hell" spoof - he even sounds like Elvis in this song) and It's Much Too Late, a lighter side of Hell tune about an all around nice guy who is surprised to find himself damned to Hell. "I've never kicked a dog - My child or my wife - I've never looked at pornography - I'd swear it on my holy saint mother's life - But somehow she's down here with me."
Alice Cooper is a Christian, despite what most Christians would say to the contrary, and his beliefs do come into play in DRAGONTOWN, but he is not overbearing with them. If a "No-good-dirty-birdie-sinner" like me can enjoy it, then so can you.
The two songs that tainted this CD for me were The Sentinel (uninspired lyrics and "blaa" music) and Every Woman Has A Name (DRAGONTOWN's answer to Only Women Bleed - no fan of ballads am I).
Being the foaming at the mouth Cooper fan that I am I wanted badly to give this CD the highest rating, but I'm afraid it only deserves the 4 Perplexed Skull rating I am giving it. Still, this CD was worth every penny of the list price to me.
This review copyright 2002 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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