Alice Cooper performs at the 58th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
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Alice Cooper (earMUSIC)
It’s the middle of summer, but school is back in session as Alice Cooper teaches us how it’s done.
In fact, the shock-rock godfather literally goes old school on this two-disc set, reuniting most of the original Alice Cooper Band from the ’70s on two tracks. Guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith join Cooper on “Genuine American Girl,” a satiric look at gender identity from one of rock’s original gender-benders, and “You and All of Your Friends,” an apocalyptic revenge song against those who despoiled the planet and “painted Heaven black.”
Cooper is just as lethal with his current band. “Dynamite Road” is his own “Detroit Rock City,” about a fatal car crash that kills his entire band, but leaves Cooper alive to complain that God allowed his beloved Cadillac to be totaled. No surprise here, since the album is produced by longtime collaborator Bob Ezrin, who also did Kiss’ signature album “Destroyer.”
“Rats” is a jaded look at how politicians, entertainers, and big businesses view the public. It could have been a classic Chuck Berry anthem but for the lyrical content, urging us to “give the rats what they want.”
The disc also includes six live tracks. Guest musicians include ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, U2 drummer Larry Mullen, Jr., and Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover.
— WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press
Dan Wilson (Big Deal Media)
Dan Wilson helped write that tune? And that one too? If you still read album credits or liner notes, you may find Wilson’s name attached to some of your favorites songs.
Formerly of Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic, the Minnesota-born Wilson has collaborated with an impressive array of musicians. On Re-Covered, he performs his songs made famous by a dozen artists including Adele, John Legend, the Dixie Chicks, Chris Stapleton, and Taylor Swift.
Adele’s “Someone Like You” and the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready To Make Nice,” both Grammy winners, as well as LeAnn Rimes’ “Borrowed,” came with very personal stories.
For Adele, it was the end of a relationship, while the Dixie Chicks sang about the controversy after Natalie Maines’ critical comments of President George W. Bush in 2003. Rimes bared her feelings about her real-life affair with future husband Eddie Cibrian.
Wilson proves his empathy, especially on “Someone Like You” with backing from the Kronos Quartet, his versions conserve the originals’ intimacy with time healing some of the wounds.
Other highlights include “All Will Be Well” (The Gabe Dixon Band), “Landing” (brother and former bandmate Matt Wilson) and “Home” (Dierks Bentley).
Leaving the oldest song for last — the only one here Wilson wrote alone — the album ends with Semisonic’s “Closing Time,” its gentleness making it easier to see how it was meant to be about a baby’s birth.
Recorded mostly in a weeklong session co-helmed by Ryan Adams producer Mike Viola and backed by musicians like Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas, Re-Covered has sufficient flourishes to avoid sounding like a collection of demos and straightforward arrangements that let the songwriting stand on its own plentiful merits.
— PABLO GORONDI, Associated Press
Carolyn Fitzhugh (Self-produced)
Chicago native Carolyn Fitzhugh showcases mellow, romantic vocals on this eight-song debut, which includes a combination of five original songs and reinterpretations of a couple classics, including Dizzy Gillespie's “A Night in Tunisia” and Herbie Hancock's “Maiden Voyage.” She brings a combination of jazz, contemporary music, and gospel to her songs, stating that the piano lessons she began taking at age 5 inspired her interest in composing. A product of Roosevelt University and the Bloom School of Jazz, she has a good vocal range and a soothing, soft jazz vibe.
— TOM HENRY, The Blade
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