It was in the Motor City that Vincent Furnier was born on February 4, 1948, and in the white heat of Detroit’s fertile underground rock scene that the original Alice Cooper group got its wings. As previewed by last year’s similarly-themed Breadcrumbs EP, Detroit Stories is a love letter to the nurturing environment which built up Alice Cooper to take on the world.
Produced by Cooper’s long-time collaborator Bob Ezrin, Detroit Stories, then, is personal for Alice. Which, on a surface reading, might make Cooper’s decision to preview the collection with a cover of The Velvet Underground’s Rock & Roll seem like a curious choice. But digging deeper, a trail of sonic footprints helps shed light on that call. Backing Alice on his gritty take on this rock ’n’ roll standard are some of the biggest hitters from Detroit’s tightly-bound musical community, namely guitarist Steve Hunter (Detroit), bassist and Detroit jazz legend Paul Randolph and drummer Johnny “Bee” Badanjek (Detroit Wheels), with special guests/honourary Motor City mad men Joe Bonamassa and Tommy Henriksen adding strength in-depth.
Rewind to a more innocent time, and in 1971, the Alice Cooper Group were working in Detroit, with producer Bob Ezrin. Around the same time, also in Detroit, a band called… Detroit, featuring Mitch Ryder, Johnny Bee and Steve Hunter, recorded a heavy new arrangement of Lou Reed’s Rock & Roll also produced by… Bob Ezrin. It was after Lou Reed heard this version that he decided to work with Ezrin on the follow-up to his 1972 hit album Transformer. Their collaboration produced the classic album Berlin.
Right, now that we’re all clued in, let’s listen to the music.
“I’m itching to get back out there,” Cooper insists. “Rock ’n’ roll isn’t over, it’s just postponed.”
Detroit Stories track list:
1. Rock ‘n’ Roll
2. Go Man Go (Album Version)
3. Our Love Will Change The World
4. Social Debris
5. $1000 High Heel Shoes}
6. Hail Mary
7. Detroit City 2021 (Album Version)
8. Drunk And In Love
9. Independence Dave
10. I Hate You
11. Wonderful World
12. Sister Anne (Album Version)
13. Hanging On By A Thread (Don’t Give Up)
14. Shut Up And Rock
15. East Side Story (Album Version)