December 30, 2015 Hollywood Vampires – Hollywood Vampires (Album Review)
There is a new group to get excited about called Hollywood Vampires. The catch is, the members are not new, by any means. They are hardened musicians with talent to die for who got together to honor the original The Hollywood Vampires. Giving some history, in the ’70s, Alice Cooper would get together with musician buddies and drink, laugh, talk, and drink some more. Actually, in order to join this group of the fabulous, one had to out-drink the others. Unfortunately, some of these famously talented humans succumbed to their vices, and so the new Hollywood Vampires are honoring these greats with music of theirs and others of the ’70s, but without the booze. They still laugh, talk, and play the hell out of their instruments. Furthermore, these new Hollywood Vampires consist of Alice Cooper on vocals, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry on guitar, with guest musician greats who play on the album, such as Slash, Dave Grohl, Robby Krieger, Joe Walsh, Bruce Witkin, and many other fantastic musicians.
Releasing their debut album on September 11, 2015, there are many adjectives to describe the self-titled effort that was over two years in the making. The best way to describe this music, this blast from the past, is to say it is hard-hitting, heart-pounding, good-old Rock -n- Roll like it once was. Reflect on the times the speakers were so loud at a concert that you could barely hear for two days, and your whole body ached from dancing all night to every song. If you do not remember those times, trust this is how Hollywood Vampires will leave you, and it is all good!
The album starts with the great, late Christopher Lee reciting an excerpt from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It quickly turns into a Rock feast with a new tune written by Cooper and Depp, “Raise the Dead.” It rocks hard with pounding drums and excellent guitar riffs with some short solos accompanied by the great, iconic voice of Cooper; a great start to a greater bunch of covers to come. When the cover of “My Generation” (The Who) begins, there is no doubt that this band rocks! They keep to the original format, but add heavier drums and guitar as Cooper belts out the lyrics as only he can.
“Whole Lotta Love” (Led Zeppelin) is the best cover yet of this iconic song. Without changing the song from the original text, Cooper makes it his own with hauntingly twisted vocals and a cacophony of drums and guitars that add to the chilling version; absolutely fantastic. “I Got a Line on You” is hard, fast-paced drumming at its best with harmonizing Metal guitars screeching out the chords as Cooper’s strong lead vocals take over. It is Alice Cooper, circa 1975, all over again.
“Five to One/Break on Through” is a pleasure to hear and another hard-hitting Heavy Metal tribute. Great rhythm guitar and steady even drums make this song another masterpiece of a throwback to Heavy Metal days. Morrison would be proud of Cooper’s vocals on the “Break on Through” part of the medley. Done to perfection, they added a bit more on the guitars, wailing away as Cooper has all Morrison’s vocal aerobics down perfectly. “One/Jump into the Fire” was done near the original on both tunes, except for the sinister vocals Cooper adds to the song, sending chills through the listener. The same effect on “Come and Get It” can be felt with Cooper’s vocals as a deeper, darker version of this McCartney tune unfolds. It was kind of like a McCartney wearing leather version; a little strange, but a good kind.
“Jeepster” (T-Rex) was done similar to the original version, but Cooper keeps to the chilling vocals he is so known for. Hard drums and synchronized guitars, to perfection, make this a good-ole Rock -n- Roll song to get down to. “Cold Turkey” (J.Lennon) was kept much more to the Lennon version, but adding an intensity to it that signifies Cooper all the way. The emphasis was more on the lyrics than the music, but still hailed some great guitars and keyboards; one would be sure Lennon would enjoy it. “Manic Depression” was done to a tee. All of Hendrix’s intensity is present, and the vocals were also Hendrix in style; a great take on a powerful ’70s song that really brings that time to life again. There are great solo guitar parts so evident of the music of the era and Hollywood Vampires got it all just right, enough to bring one to their knees.”Itchycoo Park”(Small Faces) showed how old-school Rock -n- Roll played, and that includes the standard, steady drum beat, harmonizing guitars, and strong vocals.
Then, there is “School’s Out/Another Brick in the Wall;” a totally perfect medley of two great songs that surprisingly fit together perfectly. Cooper’s teen anthem sounded as it did in 1972, and he did not lose anything with the years. He still has a strong style to his voice and really feels the lyrics, which translates openly to the listener. “Another Brick” fits nicely in the song and adds to the intensity. The guitars are a bit more energetic as is the overall feel to this song, and “School’s Out” also has more volume and intensity than the ’72 version. “My Dead Drunk Friends” is another original tune by Cooper and Depp, and it closed out the album nicely. The song has the feel of inebriated buddies hanging out drinking with each other and loving it. Containing hauntingly good lyrics and a good, old tavern feel to it, this song was touching as it was sad.
The original The Hollywood Vampires included such greats as Morrison, Hendrix, and Lennon, all sitting around drinking each other under the table, and now so many are gone. The flats and sharps arrangement of this song have a melancholy, eerie feel to it. It is a good reminder of those who have passed and left so much for us to enjoy, and a reminder of those who can still contribute much. Either way, this song ties the entire album together, honoring those musical greats who have passed, or trying to remember how precious life really is. Listeners thank Cooper, Depp, and Perry for forming this band. It is wonderful to resurrect the music of real, true Rock -n- Roll, Heavy Metal, and the songs once loved by so many and is still loved dearly. Thank you from many, Hollywood Vampires. CrypticRock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.