Album Reviews

Alice Cooper – Road

(earMusic) UK release date: 23 August 2023

His 29th album is easily his strongest in decades, and a testament to his resilience and seemingly endless creative capacity

Alice Cooper - Road All of the hype in the build-up to the new Alice Cooper album Road is that it’s a largely collaborative affair, with Cooper inviting his live band to submit songs to work on for the album. He’s getting better at collaborating, of course, with two albums and a bunch of tour dates under his belt with the Hollywood Vampires – a supergroup that pays homage to the glory days (if that’s what you want to call them) of the Hollywood rock scene. The Vampires (which includes Johnny Depp and Joe Perry of Aerosmith) are a solid, functional rock outfit, but their albums haven’t really hit the heights that you’d expect artists of their calibre to achieve.

Road, however, is surprisingly good. It’s the 29th Alice Cooper album, if you merge his solo albums with the Alice Cooper Group records, and is easily in the upper echelons of his body of work, not least because it sounds exactly how you’d want an Alice Cooper album to sound in 2023. It’s raw, streamlined, and it spends most of its time just getting down to the business of rocking your tits off. From the opening track – I’m Alice – to the closing The Who cover Magic Bus, you get bludgeoned, tickled and titillated in equal measure. Alice leans into a Bon Scott theatricality in the verses, before dropping back into his signature acrid yowl in the choruses. Welcome to Show is next, and it’s the first sign that Bob Ezrin’s involved in the record. It’s great.

Some other highlights are the muscular, anthemic White Line Frankenstein – which borrows heavily from old pal Ringo Starr’s Back Off Boogaloo, not that anybody will notice. Then you’ve got Big Boots, a bone dry glam rock stomper, and Road Rats Forever, a song so Alice Cooper that it could have appeared on any of his albums (except the first one) and fit in nicely. That the title makes reference to a song on one of his least-loved albums is also a nice touch. The Big Goodbye offers a little taste for fans of his harder-edged metal work, as does the groovy Dead Don’t Dance, which is reminiscent of Danzig, Marilyn Manson and Black Label Society in its own way. Baby Please Don’t Go is one of the weaker cuts, and you don’t need 100 More Miles either – it comes off like a half-baked John Lennon pastiche, which will no doubt mean it’s everyone’s favourite song from the album. Throughout, Alice is in superb voice – and the instrumental contributions of Nita Strauss, Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henriksen, Chuck Garric and Glen Sobel are all superb.

Cooper’s career has always run in parallel with another Detroit rock survivor: Iggy Pop. They were early pioneers of the Detroit sound, and have spent the last 50 years riding the never-ending rock highway of ridicule and celebration. Between them, they’ve made at least 20 essential rock records, from Fun House and Killer, to The Idiot and School’s Out. Here, in 2023, to have Road and Iggy’s Every Loser both exceeding expectations is frankly unbelievable. Road is the better of the two albums, simply because it sounds more organic, more authentic to the artist Alice is these days. As for Road, it’s easily Alice Cooper’s strongest album in decades, a testament to the resilience, and seemingly endless creative capacity the man has. 

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