Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)

Welcome 2 My Nightmare Album Cover

Background

 

Welcome 2 My Nightmare is the 26th studio album by Alice Cooper (both as a band and a solo artist) and was released in September 2011.  The album is a sequel to the 1975 hit album Welcome To My Nightmare (see what he did there!) and again focuses on the nightmares of Alice's alter ego Steven.

 

Despite there being 36 years between them, the albums are closely linked with references to the original release present in the overall concept, the musical content and even the front cover (see below).

Welcome 2 My Nightmare and Welcome To My Nightmare Album Covers (both created by Ernie Cefalu)

I Am Made Of You

 

The album opens with this soaring ballad which begins with the familiar piano intro to 'Steven' from the original Nightmare album.  Alice has likened this track to 'Hello Horray' from the Billion Dollar Babies album, but I personally think it bears more in common with the equally epic 'Might As Well Be On Mars' from 1992's Hey Stoopid (in terms of its sound anyway, with the common link being producer Desmond Child).

 

It is, in all fairness, a superb song which sets the bar exceptionally high for the rest of the album.  It's also unusual in that Alice's voice is clearly manipulated by a Cher style *add whatever name you want to call it here* effect.  Based on the context of the song however, it's a bit of a masterstroke as it helps to give meaning to the lyrics.  By this I mean that the song is clearly based on Alice discovering his faith, with him essentially plucked out of the darkness and into the light (cue end of effect).

 

Rating: 8 Skulls

 

Caffeine

 

The ambience of I Am Made Of You is quickly shattered by the fanfare introduction to Caffeine (you know straight away that the album will provide considerable variety as the first 2 songs are as different as you could imagine).  This is a great track with Alice playing the part of sleep-deprived Steven, who will do anything to stay awake, effortlessly.  His voice has a wonderful desperation to it as he screams Caffeine, Caffeine!

 

Caffeine was played live during the 2012 Raise The Dead tour and stood out as a real highlight (not all songs transfer well to the live shows but that can't be said for this one).

 

Rating: 7 Skulls

 

The Nightmare Returns

 

This short interlude takes us through Steven's decline from being drugged up to his eyeballs, to tiredness, to fast sleep.  This has a real Nightmare On Elm Street Feel to it with the nursery rhyme style introduction which is tremendously creepy.  The arrival into the nightmare is brought on in crashing style with a similar arrangement to ‘This House Is Haunted’ from the Eyes of Alice Cooper album.

 

Rating: 7 Skulls

 

A Runaway Train

 

Finally, we’re into the nightmare (or at least on the train to it) as Alice teams up once again with surviving Alice Cooper Group band members Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith and Michael Bruce.  It’s a triumphant return too on a song that, unusually, has no chorus.

 

Rating: 7 Skulls

 

Last Man On Earth

 

This is one of the standout tracks on the album.  With the train crashed, and Steven believing himself to be the last man on earth, we are treated to a musical bravado from Alice that gives a nod to the classic Some Folks from the original Nightmare album.  I really like this song, especially the snarl to Alice’s lyrics, a definite classic!

 

The track ends and is followed by......................................................... muted applause!

 

Rating: 9 Skulls

 

The Congregation

 

The Congregation has the feel of a more modern rock / metal track and would not have been out of place on Brutal Planet or Dragontown.  Similarities have been made between this track and material by The Beatles (and to a lesser extent, Oasis) but I don’t see this personally.  It’s a good track which is only slightly spoilt by a rather under par appearance from Rob Zombie, who appears as 'The Guide' but is no Vincent Price.  I particularly like the concept though, with the song based on the type of people you’d find in your nightmares / hell (lawyers, pimps etc.).

 

This track was also played live on the Raise The Dead tour and sounded superb.

 

Rating: 7 Skulls

 

I'll Bite Your Face Off

 

The first single from the album is a fantastic upbeat rocker, which has drawn comparisons to some Rolling Stones material.  This is probably true and is no bad thing as this is radio friendly toe tapper which is destined for regular plays (it became part of the live shows in 2011, before the album was released, and continued throughout 2012).

 

Rating: 7 Skulls

 

Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever

 

If the wheels came off the track on A Runaway Train then this is where it happens a little for the album itself.  It’s not a terrible track but it’s so far removed from the rest of the album (disco music, rapping!) that it doesn’t sound right here.  Now that’s saying a lot bearing in mind there is so much variation here anyway!  

 

I love the concept again though, with Alice summing up life in a nightclub pretty much perfectly.  The guitar driven element towards the end of the song is a nice twist and Alice should be given credit for doing something very different.  It's not the first time though as the song demonstrates several similarities to You Gotta Dance from the Goes To Hell album. 

 

Rating: 5 Skulls

 

Ghouls Gone Wild

 

Musically, things get back on track with the splendid beach rocker Ghouls Gone Wild.  Unlike many, I like this track which has a very similar style to the recent Keepin’ Halloween Alive single.  However, it's place on the album is a little questionable and I can't help thinking that this track, plus the previous one, spoil the storyline a bit.

 

Rating: 6 Skulls

 

Something To Remember Me By

 

I’m not totally sure how this track (the customary ballad) fits into the nightmare theme either.  It is, however, a nice track (well, as nice as you can get if you're singing to a corpse) and one that was apparently written many years ago by Alice and Dick Wagner.

 

My only criticism is that it sounds very similar to previous offerings such as Every Woman Has A Name and Killed By Love.  It's ok but not essential, and interestingly, was nominated for a Grammy award in 2012 (it didn't make the final shortlist though).

 

Rating: 6 Skulls

 

When Hell Comes Home

 

This is a tremendous, intensely dark track, and reminds me of the equally classic Dead Babies from the Killer album.  The lyrics focus on the domestic problems caused by an abusive, drunken father and see Alice at his inventive, sinister best.  A classic and is asking to be played live!

 

Rating: 9 Skulls

 

What Baby Wants, Baby Gets

 

This unlikely duet with pop star Kei$ha is quite surprising in that it’s rather tolerable.  What strikes you the most is that it has a very similar sound to Michael Jackson’s Beat It (which is probably why I like it).  I have my doubts about whether this will ever be a hit single though as the lyrics are just not radio friendly enough.

 

Rating: 7 Skulls

 

I Gotta Get Outta Here

 

I Gotta Get Outta Here is a great track in that it retrospectively pulls together the album's story.  It’s also great fun as Steven learns, to his horror, that there is no escaping the nightmare this time as he is in fact ...................................................................... Dead!

 

Rating: 8 Skulls

 

The Underture

 

The Underture is a marvellous collection of orchestral pieces from both Nightmare albums that are joined seamlessly.  The featured tracks are:

 

Welcome To My Nightmare;

The Awakening;

Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever;

Only Women Bleed;

Something To Remember Me By;

Devil's Food;

The Black Widow;

Ghouls Gone Wild;

I Am Made Of You;

Years Ago; and

Steven.

 

Alice has mentioned doing a West-End style show in the future and, if this is anything to go, by I would wholeheartedly support this.

 

Rating: 9 Skulls

 

OVERALL ALBUM RATING: 7 SKULLS 

 

BONUS TRACKS

 

In total, there are 4 all new bonus tracks which can be obtained by purchasing different editions of the album.  I have reviewed them below, which might help you to decide which version(s) to purchase:

 

Under The Bed (available on the Classic Rock fan pack edition only)

 

A criminal exclusion from the album and a song that everyone should possess (apparently, it was left out as it didn’t quite fit into the theme).  I would draw comparisons to this song with Wind Up Toy from Hey Stoopid which just happens to be one of my all-time favourite Alice tracks.

 

Rating: 10 Skulls

 

A Bad Situation (available on the iTunes edition only)

 

A fairly laid back rocker with a comical edge to the lyrics.  Not a bad track but not essential by any means.

 

Rating: 6 Skulls

 

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (available on the standard/deluxe CD editions only)

 

A cover of the track by the same name by the Animals.  Whilst the track is more than bearable, it’s got nothing in common with the nightmare theme.

 

Rating: 6 Skulls

 

Flatline (available on 2-Disc vinyl edition only)

 

This has to be one of the most obsure 'songs' Alice has ever done.  It is basically a series of beeps and is, I guess, supposed to depict Steven’s death (as announced in I Gotta Get Out Of Here).  I'll stick my neck out and say that Alice probably had little to do with this.  The track interested many when it was announced in that it was only to be made available on the vinyl edition.  As it turns out though it is pretty pointless, especially as it is the only track on Side B of Disc 2.

 

Rating: N/A (Unclassified)

 

WHICH VERSION DO I BUY THEN?

 

There are 6 different versions of the album for UK based fans to choose from:

 

>  Standard CD in jewel case; 

>  Limited edition CD in digi pack;

>  Classic Rock Fan Pack CD in hard back case; 

>  2 Disc Vinyl;

>  Digital download; and

>  iPad App.

 

I have all of them but if I was going to have only one then it would definitely be the Classic Rock Fan Pack.  If you can still track it down (£14.99) then it's a must have product as it comes with the CD in hard back case, an Alice magazine and some other goodies.  It also features the excellent Under The Bed, which is easily the best of the bonus material that's available. 

 

If you can't find a copy of the Classic Rock Fan Pack, and are lucky enough to own an iPad, then go for the Welcome 2 My Nightmare App which features most of the Fan Pack magazine content plus video introductions from Alice himself.  A major downside is that the music does not become available on iTunes and therefore cannot be burnt to CD or moved onto your other digital music players.  Also, annoyingly, you have to have the iPad in landscape position to use it which is no help to me as I dock my iPad into a portrait dock! 

 

See my Welcome 2 My Nightmare Collection here.