Like a terrifying yet alluring ringmaster of your nightmares, whenever Alice Cooper (real name Vincent Furnier) emerges from his Arizona dwellings, you can’t help but feel excited for what kind of classic ’70s-era Shock Rock he has in store.
At 71, the godfather of Shock Rock has kept busy the past few years, from his 2017 solo album “Paranormal,” to the forming of rock super group Hollywood Vampires with Joe Perry of Aerosmith and Johnny Depp.
Now, taking a slight turn from the darker imagery Cooper is known for, his latest EP, “The Breadcrumbs,” plays out as a star-studded love letter to the early garage rock artists of Detroit, Mich.
For context, Detroit, having birthed many sub-genres of music, was particularly instrumental in shaping Garage Rock, Punk Rock and Shock Rock.
Recorded in Detroit with longtime producer Bob Ezrin, Cooper rips through six lean tracks in just over 20 minutes, illustrating the immediate power that well-crafted rock music can have on the audience.
Surrounded by Detroit-area legends Wayne Kramer (MC5), Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad) Johnny Bandanjek and Paul Randolph (The Detroit Wheels) and Mick Collins (The Gories), opening track, “Detroit City 2020,” is a reworking of a justly forgotten, early 2000s Alice Cooper track, “Detroit City.”
Invigorated by hometown friends, “Detroit City 2020” takes on a new existence from the onset of the dual guitar intro.
“Me and Iggy were giggin’ with Ziggy and kickin’ with the MC5. Ted and Seger were burnin’ with the fever and Suzi Q was sharp as a knife,” Cooper boldly snarls, name-checking rock music icons, who just happen to be friends of his.
The track, “Go man Go,” is another new, original jam with an upbeat tempo and lyrics about stealing a car and driving fast.
The lyrics, “I just got out of jail, stole me a Hellcat, pickin’ up my baby, she works at the gay bar,” feels like a 50-year-old long-lost relative to Cooper’s 1971 track, “Under my Wheels.”
The final four tracks find Cooper interpreting deep cuts from other Detroit-area musicians with his pension for spectacle.
Bob Seger’s 1966 single “East Side Story” benefits greatly from Cooper’s love. In ’66, when the track came out, it was a hit in Detroit, full of aggressive fuzz guitars and classic ’60s piano, but when Cooper does it in 2019, he elevates it to almost stadium Glam Rock status, with clearer in-your-face guitar fuzz and a towering chorus, “And she cried “No. Johnny, Johnny, no. Oh Johnny, Johnny no.”
“Your Mama Won’t Like Me,” originally a Suzi Quatro track, fits perfectly with the Alice Cooper aesthetic. Unapologizing, sexual and complemented with guitar solos and a horn section, lyrics like “And now my preoccupation is making love, hon, hon, hon, I got a bad reputation through playing around. I like your stimulation but hon that ain’t enough,” could have been a single on one of Alice Cooper’s hallowed, first seven albums.
Time may unapologetically march against us all, but on “The Breadcrumbs,” the veteran shock rocker serves up a hard-hitting homage to some of the most important figures in one of rock music’s most revered decades.