ALICE COOPER’S ‘DIRTY DIAMONDS’ SLATED FOR AUGUST 2ND:
May 21, 2005
Release date: August 2, 2005
After 30 albums and some of the most famous rock songs ever recorded, you’d think Alice Cooper’s demons would’ve been conquered by now-or maybe locked in a cage and fed undercooked meat. But the man who changed the course of rock music in the ’70s with bloody guillotines, sparking electric chairs, slimy boa constrictors, and a little blood and eyeliner still has more to slay in 2005. Alice Cooper is master at re-inventing himself, shedding his skin like one of his snakes to become everything from a mascara’d grave robber to a leather-wrapped street hooligan, a film noir detective, insane asylum honor student, and nihilistic dada-ist. 2003’s Eyes of Alice Cooper saw another of these shape-shifts, grinding musical gears with back-to-basics garage rock. Wrapping his famous sneer/snarl around a fistful of power chords, Alice-lean and mean-pumped the adrenaline to toxic levels. With the release of Dirty Diamonds, Coop is back in even finer form, promising more thrills, chills and doctor bills.
“Dirty Diamonds sounds like Eyes of Alice Cooper with more polish on it,” says Alice. “On Eyes I wouldn’t allow the band to do overdubs. We did everything in the studio: write, record it and put it to bed. I don’t want a Queen album or a Def Leppard album that’s perfectly recorded. They’re terrific, you can’t knock those albums, but that’s not the sound I’m looking for. I’d much rather have the sound of an early Stones album.” And that’s exactly what Dirty Diamonds is – a nod to the British Invasion past while acknowledging the Nu-rock White Stripes/Jet present. Guitars and solos are strip-searched of effects, giving sharp bite to songs like “Woman of Mass Distraction,” a smoker’s cough sheen to “Your Own Worst Enemy” and testosterone feistiness of “Steal That Car.” “This whole album takes you in a lot of different directions,” he says, “yet it still really sounds like an Alice album.” His roadmap this time takes you through glam-trash [“Dirty Diamonds”], last call blues [“Six Hours”], all-purpose punk [“Steal That Car”], country & western [“Saga of Jesse Jane”], New Orleans’ swampy mugginess [“Zombie Dance”], and undiluted south-of-the-belt-buckle, Stones hard rock [“Sunset Babies (All Got Rabies”)].
And there’s no shortage of razor-tongued, phrase twisting-like his famous black eyes, another Alice plot device. In “Run Down The Devil,” when he catches Satan (“the ultimate road kill”) in his headlights, he promises to “take him to the Mercury grill” and “kick his future up his past.” He even punk’s Chihuahua-toting Paris Hilton types in “Sunset Babies” with the line, “I’d buy her a diamond collar, if she’d only throw me a bone.” “The art of the lyric is something I spend all my time on,” says Alice. “I love the idea that a song will throw a lyrical curve at you or at least make you go, that’s an Alice lyric. I learned to write lyrics from listening to Chuck Berry who is maybe the best rock lyricist. I always said an Alice lyric should always be a cut above everyone else when it comes to clever. If I can make myself laugh, then I know it’s a good lyric.” A prime example comes in the form of a country western ballad, “The Saga of Jesse Jane,” whose cross-dressing main character finds himself jailed in a Texas town “in my sister’s wedding gown.” The song asks, “Are you just a normal guy who dresses like a butterfly?” “I say we should release that to country & western radio and not tell anybody who it’s from. [laughs] I tried to make it sound like Johnny Cash. I can hear this playing in a truck stop jukebox. The idea that it has clever lyrics shouldn’t take away from the fact that the song is actually a catchy number.”
Of the many standout tracks, Alice professes fondness for the song, “Perfect.” While its middle-finger guitar riff and lyrical swagger points a straight line back to Love It To Death and “Be My Lover,” Alice says it has more in common with Meet The Beatles. “I just absolutely pride myself on that song. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to write “I Saw Her Standing There” or “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl”? Any three-minute Beatles song. I finally wrote something I feel could’ve been a Beatles song at one point, even if it was a Beatles song they would’ve thrown away.
One of the album’s more deceptive tracks is “Pretty Ballerina,” a dark ballad imbued with Alice’s eerie softer voice, veiled in classic Cooper unease. “That was originally written by a band called The Left Banke who had a hit with “Walk Away Renee,” says Alice. “Pretty Ballerina” was their second hit. I heard it when I was a kid in 1965-66. It’s just such a great curveball; it sounds a little bit like “Only Women Bleed.” It has that delicacy and darkness, even though when you listen to it it’s just a love song. The way it was written really appeals to that darker romantic side of me.”
Writing and recording Dirty Diamonds with Alice is his band, long-time guitarist Roxie Ryan, recent addition guitarist Damon Johnson (best known for his band Brother Cane), bassist Chuck Garric and drummer Tommy Clufetos. Unlike Alice’s 2003 album The Eyes of Alice Cooper, which featured the band and only the band with virtually no overdubs, Dirty Diamonds has a more arranged and produced feel to it, and features additional contributions by a host of highly regarded LA musicians and writers, including guitarist Rick Boston (Rickie Lee Jones), bassist Mike Elizondo (Eminem, 50 Cent) and keyboardist Teddy Zigzag (who has worked with everyone from Guns N Roses to Carole King).
“I really look at Dirty Diamonds as an Alice gem. There are no fillers. Pick any song you think might be a single and I’m happy with that song representing the album. That to me is quality. Every track has got to be a great song, which is something I learned from Bob Ezrin.” (producer of the Alice Cooper platinum classics Love It To Death , School’s Out, Billion-Dollar Babies, and Welcome To My Nightmare, as well as Pink Floyd and Kiss). Co-produced by Steve Lindsey (who has worked with everyone from Leonard Cohen to Elton John) and Rick Boston, the minimalist “set it and forget it” approach captures Alice Cooper in all his timeless black humor and raw wound glory. “With Steve we were able to write it, record it and move on to the next song,” says Alice. “He’s one of those guys who has the same kind of music pedigree as Ezrin. We were on the same page as far as the kind of music we were talking about.” The only song that indulges mapped-out production is the title track, with a movie soundtrack horn section that recalls the West Side Story spin of “Gutter Cats Vs. The Jets.” “Almost everything through Alice Cooper has had a cinematic sound to it. Think of “Dirty Diamonds” as being a James Bond movie. That’s something that Alice does that nobody else does,” he says.
Dirty Diamonds is pure Alice Cooper. He’s still and forever rock’s reigning shock rock icon. “I always treated Alice as a dignified criminal, like Hannibal Lecter,” he says. “Lecter would never lower himself to use bad language. Alice was always too much of an elegant gentleman; He wouldn’t swear…but he’d slit your throat.”
Courtesy of www.newwestrecords.com