Alice Cooper barely made it out of the '60s with what you might call a music career. He ruled the world and then self-destructed in the '70s – only to rise again, phoenix-like, in the '80s and '90s. So what, you might understandably ask, did the father of shock rock possibly have to say midway through the third millennium's first decade?

Quite a bit, as it turned out, in the form of his 24th album, Dirty Diamonds, which emerged on Aug. 2, 2005, packed with a dozen new songs, mostly written by the singer with Ryan Roxy, Cooper's guitarist of nearly a decade. Together, the pair had toured for the final half of the '90s before returning to the studio via 2000's Brutal Planet. It had proved to be a long, six-year recording hiatus for Cooper, now swapped for a productive period that yielded four albums over the next six.

Dirty Diamonds, like its predecessor The Eyes of Alice Cooper, avoided big productions and exchanged technological artifice for a bare bones, raw sound that was perhaps inspired in part by young purists like the White Stripes. Cooper then threw in the sleazy raunch of the '80s L.A. Strip for a little spice.

Or maybe it was because Dirty Diamonds was reportedly recorded in just 13 days, and that no doubt contributed to the direct, in-your-face appeal of opening triplets "Woman of Mass Distraction," the tongue-in-cheek "Perfect" and "You Make Me Wanna." The title track's more layered arrangement finally bucked this trend, and "The Saga of Jesse Jane" took Alice Cooper to the country. Beyond that, points of interest included the moody grind of "Run Down the Devil," the organ-backed hard rock with hooks of "Steal that Car," and the voodoo blues of "Zombie Dance."

In sum, Dirty Diamonds offered quite a varied set that rarely strayed from its stated mission statement of accomplishing more with less, When a legend like Alice Cooper is involved, what else does one need but the familiar, charismatic original article itself?

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