| March 11, 1975|
11 March 1975
| Soundstage, Toronto; Plant East, Electric Lady and A&R Studios, New York|
Alice Cooper Goes to Hell
Rock music, Hard rock, Shock rock, Glam rock, Art rock
Alice Cooper albums, Shock rock albums, Other albums
Welcome to My Nightmare is the eighth studio album by Alice Cooper, released in March 1975. This was Alice Cooper's first solo album (all previous Alice Cooper releases were band efforts), and his only album for the Atlantic Records label. The ensuing tour was one of the most over-the-top excursions of that era. Most of Lou Reed’s band joined Cooper for this record.
It is a concept album; the songs, heard in sequence, form a journey through the nightmares of a child named Steven. It inspired the Alice Cooper: The Nightmare TV special and a worldwide concert tour in 1975, and the Welcome To My Nightmare concert film in 1976. A sequel, Welcome 2 My Nightmare was released in 2011.
The cover artwork was created by Drew Struzan for Pacific Eye & Ear. Rolling Stone would later rank it ninetieth on the list of the “Top 100 Album Covers Of All Time”. The remastered CD version adds three alternate version bonus tracks. Famed film actor of the horror genre Vincent Price provided the introductory monologue in the song "The Black Widow". The original version of “Escape” was recorded by The Hollywood Stars for their shelved 1974 album “Shine Like a Radio”, which was finally released in 2013.
Welcome to My Nightmare received generally mixed reviews upon release. Dave Marsh of Rolling Stone called the album “a TV soundtrack that sounds like one. The horn parts are so corny you might imagine that you’re listening to the heavy-metal Ann-Margret.” He noted the absence of the original Alice Cooper band, stating, “without the wildness and drive of the sound the Cooper troupe had, the gimmicks on which Alice the performer must rely are flat and obvious.” He concluded by saying that it “is simply a synthesis of every mildly wicked, tepidly controversial trick in the Cooper handbook. But in escaping from the mask of rock singer which he claimed he found so confining, Cooper has found just another false face.”
In addition, Robert Christgau rated the album a B- grade, stating that it “actually ain’t so bad – no worse than all the others.” He stated that the varying compositions of the songs would potentially cause the album to influence younger listeners, saying: "Alice's nose for what the kids want to hear is as discriminating as it is impervious to moral suasion, so perhaps this means that the more obvious feminist truisms have become conventional wisdom among at least half our adolescents."
However, a retrospective review by Allmusic’s Greg Prato was more positive. Prato considered the album as Cooper’s best solo work, despite the absence of the original band: “While the music lost most of the gritty edge of the original AC lineup, Welcome to My Nightmare remains Alice’s best solo effort – while some tracks stray from his expected hard rock direction, there's plenty of fist-pumping rock to go around.” However, he maintained that “the rockers serve as the album’s foundation – “Devil's Food,” “The Black Widow,” “Department of Youth,” and “Cold Ethyl” are all standouts, as is the more tranquil yet eerie epic “Steven.” He concluded by comparing the album to Cooper’s subsequent solo efforts by stating: “Despite this promising start to Cooper’s solo career, the majority of his subsequent releases were often not as focused and were of varying quality.” The New York Times, describing the subsequent tour, said that Cooper was much tougher than he looked in concert.
Since its release, Welcome to My Nightmare has become the most-represented album in Alice Cooper’s concert setlists, accounting for, even including concerts from before its release, 15.7 percent of all the songs he has played live – a proportion which of course will be much larger counting only shows since the album’s composition and release. It is the last album from which every song has been performed live, although “The Awakening” was never played until the Trash Tour on November 21, 1989; whilst “Some Folks” and “Escape” were never performed after the album’s support tour apart from a handful of performances of the latter song in 2001.Alice Cooper - Vocals
Dick Wagner - Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Steve Hunter - Electric and Acoustic Guitar
Prakash John - Bass
Pentti "Whitey" Glan - Drums
Bob Ezrin - Synthesizer, Arranger, Keyboards, Vocals, Producer
Jozef Chirowski - Keyboards, Clavinet, Vocals, Fender Rhodes
Tony Levin - Bass on "Welcome to My Nightmare" and "Escape"
Johnny "Bee" Badanjek - Drums on "Welcome to My Nightmare" and "Escape"
Drew Struzan - Artwork
Gerry Lyons - Vocals
Vincent Price - The Curator
Cooper talked with Rolling Stone over the Theatrical adaption of his album, although there has been little traction on this since 2010.
The 1999 tribute album Humanary Stew: A Tribute to Alice Cooper includes covers of 'Cold Ethyl' by Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Mike Inez, Billy Sheehan and Simon Phillips and 'The Black Widow' by Bruce Dickinson, Adrian Smith, Tony Franklin, Tommy Aldridge and David Glen Eisley. The album also includes covers of the title track and 'Only Women Bleed'. All four tracks also feature the album's producer, Bob Kulick. Tori Amos covered 'Only Women Bleed' as a B-side to the title track of her 2001 album Strange Little Girls.
1Welcome to My Nightmare5:19Welcome to My Nightmare Wikipedia
3The Black Widow3:38