5 Years Ago: Alice Cooper Releases ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’
Three and a half decades after Alice Cooper went solo in style with Welcome to My Nightmare, the shock rocker returned to the realm of Steven, the underworld and bad dreams. With producer Bob Ezrin on board to produce and co-write, Cooper stumbled into making a sequel album, titled Welcome 2 My Nightmare.
Never mind that Cooper and Ezrin had already continued the original Nightmare on 1976’s Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, which found Cooper disco dancing through the flames. Can one album have two different sequels? Go ask Alice. He’ll probably tell you that the Nightmare storyline is nebulous enough to continue in all sorts of directions. Regardless, the dreamlike hellscape offers fertile ground for Cooper’s mix of theatricality and melodic hard rock.
Cooper and Ezrin, serving as the primary producer on a Cooper record for the first time since 1983, seemed to have plenty of fun working in the macabre setting with the main character getting a comical tour of hell (glam stomper “The Congregation”) and finding out that the devil is a woman (shimmying rocker “I’ll Bite Your Face Off”). Styles range from rockabilly and pop to punk and metal, while Ezrin and Cooper throw in musical nods to the original album here and there.
More than a mere sequel, Welcome 2 My Nightmare serves as a career victory lap for Cooper. While the original Nightmare was the first Cooper LP to not include the Alice Cooper band, this album was the first of Cooper’s solo records to feature his former bandmates (with the exception of Glen Buxton, who died in 1997). Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith and Michael Bruce each co-wrote one song and played with the frontman on a few tracks, including highlights such as “A Runaway Train” and “When Hell Comes Home.”
But the original Coopers weren’t the only returning collaborators: Ezrin was back (for his 10th Cooper record as main producer), but so were session players Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner (who played on many of Cooper’s ’70s solo discs), partner in grime Rob Zombie (who toured with Cooper) and song doctor Desmond Child (who co-wrote “Poison” as well as the rest of 1989’s Trash). Cooper also brought on Ke$ha, to play the devil, and country star Vince Gill, to play some twangy guitar.
Whether it was the sequel concept, the amount of guest stars or the quality of songs, Welcome 2 My Nightmare was well-received when it came out on Sept. 13, 2011. Reviewers praised the diversity of songs and sounds, along with the presence of four-fifths of the original Alice Cooper band. Fans made it Cooper’s most popular album since Trash, with the sequel topping out at No. 22 on the Billboard chart. The return trip was a successful one.
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