Hollywood Vampires - Rise

Hollywood Vampires Rise cover
Hollywood Vampires
I dunno what the deal exactly is with Alice Cooper and not only he keeps releasing stuff under his own name (case and point “Paranormal”), but he also did a weird tribute to his fallen drinking buddies through the years, by creating the Hollywood Vampires along with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Johnny Depp (who was in a number of bands during his youth, the most prominent being him playing guitar for a bit for Florida hard rockers Rock City Angels) and releasing a covers heavy album back in 2015, that only had a handful of originals and now the polar opposite, a mostly original albums with a handful of covers like Johnny Thunder’s “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory”, “Heroes” from David Bowie, who sadly passed in 2016 and JC band’s rocka-punky “People Who Died” all done in a way that makes em flow well, strewn in the middle of the band’s original material.
There’s a bunch of decent original songs on offer… like the pulsating and salaciously ironic opener “I Want My Now”, which satirizes the ultra-consumerist society we live in with all its first world problems. Following some bizarre ass, reverbed to hell dialogue about lying entitled “Good People are Hard to Find” that lasts one hot minute, the original single the band released “Who’s Laughing Now” rolls on and is no less ironic, cynical even. Cooper carries most of it, since just like on the covers Depp’s voice is a hit or miss, love it or hate it affair and I can’t say I am exactly enamored. Half a minute of harpsichord ensues in the form of “How the Glass Fell” and all those bizarre transitional pieces, seem like they’re serving no real purpose. “The Boogieman Surprise” that follows in a charming enough dark bluesy number by Ole Black Eyes. He’s done better, but this ain’t his worse thing ever, just a little on the boring side of things.
“Welcome to Bushwackers” (features appearances by both Jeff Beck & John Waters) and while it’s not bad, its 60-70s rock style doesn’t quite seem to have much to do with the rest of the album. It might have not been out of place in an old AC album, but here, despite being charming on its own, it feels a bit disruptive. A silly piano intro heralds the Thunder’s cover and then “Git from Round Me” feels like someone mixed Pink Floyd with vocals from Alice Cooper’s worst nightmare… it might sound interesting in theory, but more than a little nightmarish and not exactly smooth; the riff and melody during the chorus are interesting, but… I am not exactly thrilled with the way in which they’re represented. The Bowie cover doesn’t exactly have the effect of the original and another of those intros, the heavy synthesized “A Pitiful Beauty” leads to the “New Threat” a rather stomping tune that AC belts out and ain’t half bad.
There’s a good Alice Cooper song, in “Mr. Spider”… but it seems to be on the “wrong” record. “We Gotta Rise” is a Beatlesque, but rather thumbing, marching sort of song with anthemic qualities that’s reminiscent of 70-80s humorous numbers… wtf?! It’s funny alright, but that doesn’t make it any less weird. Then there’s the punkish Jim Carroll band tune that finally culminates to the folky “Congratulations”, a rather pessimistic, cynical but also humoristic series of monologues that spits bile, but at the same time, leaves you with a silly grin.
Despite, it being tangled and messed up, with all those transitory short instrumentals, taking away from the flow, there’s a bunch of good songs at the core of right. Depp should sing a little less, as he’s not up to scratch, but Coops is predictably cool. Not only for fanatics, although it’s likely to appeal only to them.