At 70 years old, the former Vincent Furnier (ALICE COOPER was originally the name of the band and only later became the name of the singer) isn’t really shocking anyone anymore. The decades of boundary-pushing artists that his music and wildly theatrical show have inspired make his Halloween haunted house stage show seem almost quaint.
But while he might not be the terror of the squares that he was in the early 70s (he always says it was more about annoying hippies anyway), that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been creating. He was last in Madison a couple of years back opening up for MÖTLEY CRÜE on their “Farewell Tour” (well, “farewell” at least until that money runs out) and since then he’s released an album with Johnny Depp and Joe Perry called *Hollywood Vampires* based on the name of his old L.A. drinking buddies club.
Last July, Cooper released his 27th album Paranormal. Maybe the most shocking thing on this album is that there are two new songs on the album are written and performed by a reunion of the original ALICE COOPER band from the late 60s (they were all high school buddies originally.) “Genuine American Girl” is a take on transgender (of course the band used to push buttons themselves by cross-dressing) and “You and All of Your Friends” sounds like it’s written from the perspective of a Trump supporter looking to in the words of Michael Caine’s Alfred, “watch the world burn”.
The record is still helmed by his longtime producer Bob Ezrin (The Wall, KISS’ Destroyer, Peter Gabriel’s first solo record) and it features guest appearances like Roger Glover from DEEP PURPLE, Billy Gibbons from ZZ TOP, and Larry Mullen Jr. from U2.
Now of course, the album title, Paranormal has supernatural connotations and in an interview with Rolling Stone, Alice himself recalls a story from the mid-80s where he said he was working on a horror movie soundtrack with Joe Perry while staying at a house in Copake, New York owned by his manager, the famous Shep Gordon.
Alice and Joe were both coming off stints in rehab and in the Rolling Stone interview, Cooper says “Every time I would put something down – I’d go in the other room, I’d come back – it was in some other place.” He said the whole thing was more playful than scary but that they ran out for the night when they experienced some loud noises they couldn’t explain. “There’s a basement right under us and it sounds like somebody’s moving furniture down there. It’s not just a bump or a little thing: It sounds like 20 people are moving furniture.”
Now, Alice claims that Shep told him that The Amityville Horror was written there and his mother had a paranormal experience where a table moved a foot during a dinner party. It’s a great story and Alice did star in an Italian horror movie called Monster Dog in 1984, but there’s no record of the author of the book, Jay Anson writing the book there.
In a Writer’s Digest article from 1979, Anson says most of the writing was done from his New York City office, but he does mention writing some of the book at his sister’s house as he recovered from a heart attack he had while finishing the novel. Could his sister’s house have been the Alice Cooper - Joe Perry haunted house? Nope. A People article from 1978 mentions that he and his 8-year old son were living with his sister in Roslyn, Long Island which is over 2 hours from Copake.
Anson himself does mention that weird things happened to people who had copies of the manuscript, debunkers got mysteriously sick, and of course he suffered a heart attack as well as dying shortly after *The Amityville Horror* made him a rich man. But in interviews, Anson never claimed the the Amityville story was true, only that he believed that the family believed and it was his job to report their story, not to judge its veracity.
Anyway, Alice only starts mentioning The Amityville Horror thing in interviews over the past few years, in his episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories, Cooper says that Shep told him a little boy who lived in the house drowned in a nearby lake and Alice thought that might be the prankster who was hiding their stuff. That sounds more reasonable, but Alice and Joe Perry have told their ghost story on multiple occasions and the singer is using it to promote his Paranormal album.
But beyond ghost stories, Paranormal is (with apologies to the long-sober singer) straight up ALICE COOPER, no chaser. There are some great musical hooks, plenty of the vintage tongue-in-cheek humor (this was a band originally signed by Frank Zappa after all), and it’s the kind of hard rock that Alice Cooper and Bob Ezrin pioneered. Alice has flirted with synths, drum machines, and Sunset Strip-style glam, but you’re not going to find any of that on this release.
ALICE COOPER returns to Madison at the Orpheum Theatre on State Street on March 14th. I hope he brings the guillotine, because you guys haven’t seen a rock show until you’ve seen a dude cut his own head off onstage!(1830) Page Views Alice Cooper Online:
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CD: Paranormal Record Label: EARMUSIC
• Purchase Paranormal on Amazon