Hollywood Vampires: ‘Live In Rio’

Released on June 2, 2023 (earMusic)

I admit live albums are not something I normally go out of my way to purchase.  My live music collection is limited only because most of the time, I’d rather spend my money on a concert release via DVD or Blu-ray if I want to see a band in a live setting, as opposed to getting a music-only release. However, I was interested when I saw the Hollywood Vampires release Live In Rio from their 2015 show. On top, the accompanying concert DVD was even more than enough to get. Sure, I’m a big Alice Cooper fan, but for me (and some skeptics) the intrigue of seeing actor Johnny Depp playing in a live setting was the main reason.

Who else but Alice could bring together one of Hollywood‘s biggest actors, legendary guitarist Joe Perry, and the bass player and drummer from Guns N’ Roses all together to play a bunch of covers (and an original opening song) to celebrate the past musicians and actors who died too soon due to their lifestyle? This isn’t just a supergroup, but, as is the case with Alice‘s other work, a back story was brought into the mix to add another level to just a jam fest with friends.

Starting with a quote from the movie “Dracula” talking about the Children Of The Night and “what music they make” is a perfect intro for the original song “Raise The Dead.” After this, a walk through some rock history begins with salutes to The Who, John Lennon, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and more. Even somewhat rarer songs like Spirit‘s “I Got A Line On You” (a song I used to play when I was a drummer for a cover band in Youngstown, Ohio in the early 1990s) will educate younger listeners on some of the other musical tastes while keeping a hard rock flavor to it, along with “7 and 7 Is,” a song I was not familiar with at all until I heard and saw this package.

It’s hard to separate this review from the visual concert and the audio CD, but both are full of wonderful musicianship. Matt Sorum‘s drumming is solid, and although I was not a Guns N’ Roses fan, he brings the backbeat power throughout all the songs, along with bass player Duff McKagan and Cooper‘s own Tommy Henriksen helping with the rhythm work.

Lzzy Hale‘s guest appearance on “Whole Lotta Love” shows not only her powerful vocals but why she is one of the leaders of the female hard rock movements. Her interaction with Cooper during the song brings the show to another level that was already rising above a normal show. The Who‘s Zak Starkey shows his skills on “I’m A Boy” with his cymbal skills (and catches in the video). Adding Cooper‘s “School’s Out” running into “Another Brick In The Wall,” which he has done on his solo tours, is a fun way to drive the last few songs. Guest guitar player Andreas Kisser shows that one can’t have too many guitar players cranking to level 20 on the sound levels. And let’s face it, if The Rolling Stones will no longer play the great “Brown Sugar,” the villain Cooper will with his army of vampires ending the show with the crowd loving every second of it, singing along and showing that hard rock and classic music is still wanted around the world.

Even though Depp is not spotlighted vocally here, you can not deny that this guy can play. He is not just another actor who wants to be a rock star; he fits the part, and being on the stage having to be on a certain level like Perry and the others, is a credit to his talent. I was never a huge Aerosmith fan, but always respected Perry‘s playing, and it’s probably safe to say that being the rock guitar hero he is, he wouldn’t be doing this with an actor if Depp couldn’t hold his own.

The concert DVD is the main reason why I got this, but I was educated on a few songs, as well as wanting to watch this fun event again right after watching it, along with the solid quality sound of the show on CD is to be appreciated. Not only does the group have a high-level musician quality to it, but watching the show, you can see that the members are having fun being there. The Vampires make it cool to be a rock star again; only Keith Richards is missing to complete the ultimate level of awesomeness (but Depp‘s pirate look from his Jack Sparrow / Richards influence gives the vibes that the latter could be there in spirit).

A bunch of legendary rockers cranking out classic tunes may be something done at a local club, but the Vampires do it in front of 100,000 fans at one of the biggest festivals in the world and pull it off wonderfully. “What music they make?” Rock and roll that is full of power and fun.

Track List:
01. Raise The Dead
02. My Generation
03. I Got A Line On You
04. Cold Turkey
05. Five To One / Break On Through (To The Other Side)
06. Manic Depression
07. 7 And 7 Is
08. Whole Lotta love
09. Jeepster
10. I’m A Boy
11. School’s Out
12. Billion Dollar Babies
13. Train Kept A -Rollin’
14. Brown Sugar

Band Members:
Alice Cooper – vocals, harmonica
Johnny Depp – guitar
Joe Perry – guitar
Tommy Henriksen – guitar
Bruce Witkin – guitar
Matt Sorum – drums
Duff McKagan – bass

Additional Musicians:
Lzzy Hale – vocals and guitar (8)
Zak Starkey – drums (10-14)
Andreas Kisser – vocals (14)

Mixed by Justin Cortelyou and Bob Ezrin
Mastered by Robert Vosgien

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Lance Lumley for Sleaze Roxx, June 2023

Hollywood Vampires‘ “Raise The Dead” video:

Hollywood Vampires‘ “I Got A Line On You” video: