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Alice Cooper's Detroit Stories is his most concise bolt of precision-tooled heavy rock in 50 years

Fifty years since Love It To Death, Alice Cooper revisits his birth city and forges a late-life classic with Detroit Stories

Alice Cooper - Detroit Stories
(Image: © EarMusic)

Spearheaded by I’m Eighteen, Love It To Death laid glowering templates for hard rock, glam and punk, shot with cinematic thrills, TV-eye narratives and tough Detroit attitude. 

Although coming of age in Phoenix before Alice Cooper manifested in LA, the man himself is from the Motor City, its outcast grit in his DNA. After LA proved too laid-back, the emergence of the MC5 and Stooges called Alice back to his self-described “birthplace of angry hard rock”. 

With Alice transformed into rock’s spider-eyed baddie and his band drilled into shape by young producer Bob Ezrin, Love It To Death ignited the huge success consolidated by Killer and School’s Out

After his subsequent decades of turmoil and triumph, Alice returned to Detroit in 2019, celebrating balls-out Motor City rock with Ezrin, MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, Detroit Wheels drummer Johnny ‘Bee’ Badanjek, bassist Paul Randolph and others on the Breadcrumbs EP, on which originals like Detroit City 2020 were joined by badass garage covers of Bob Seger’s East Side Story and MC5’s Sister Anne.

The EP has now been expanded with the same core squad into Alice’s twenty-first solo album. Detroit Stories is his most concise bolt of precision-tooled heavy rock in 50 years, enhanced by Ezrin’s robust production and Alice on lethal form, vocally and lyric-wise. 

Instantly stunning from the opening salvo of Lou Reed’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, Mitch Ryder’s strutting 1971 version its blueprint, and Go Man Go piledriving at getaway-car velocity (opening line: ‘I just got outta jail, stole me a hubcap, I’m a moron’), the street-wise anthems continue with Hail Mary’s feral Chuck Berry chug, self-explanatory Shut Up And Rock and Motor City roll-call Detroit City 2021.

Cooper’s lyrical flair hot-wires the monolithic Social Debris into a glorious anthem of urban collapse. Bitingly relevant wry Detroit nihilism rakes Independence Dave, I Hate You and Wonderful World’s grainy basement chug. 

Drunk And In Love humps Stooges-style gutter blues. Our Love Will Change The World oddly evokes jaunty sunshine pop. $1000 High Heel Shoes honours Detroit’s soul pedigree with backing chorale and Motor City horns garnishing its strutting funky groove. Hanging On By A Thread (Don’t Give Up) becomes Alice’s semi-spoken survival ballad. The Breadcrumbs covers provide worthy touchstones. 

At 73, Alice has come home to give his home city a new classic to add to its illustrious hard rock legacy.