Steve Taylor-Bryant gets his teeth into the new Hollywood Vampires album. Rise...
A while ago I reviewed the Hollywood Vampires debut album. I loved it, thought it was great in fact, but over time I have come to see it for what it was which was a tribute album that could have been called Alice and Friends, it was all about Alice Cooper. Since that release I have caught glimpses of a solid band emerging from the celebrity guest funeral pyre of the first album and this led to cautious optimism about Rise. It promised fewer covers, more original material, and the feel of a proper collaboration between colleagues with no one musician taking centre stage, and do you know what? It’s a bit of alright, it really is.
The album shows off its influences unashamedly and the mixture of Alice Cooper’s own stuff, that Aerosmith vibe, that Guns n Roses feel, that 70’s rock music edge, that Velvet Revolver nod are all stuffed into a very good album that kicks off in true style with I Want My Now which is as strong an opening to a rock album as you could hope for. Good People Are Hard to Find with its sci-fi sounding moments is more a 30 second filler than a track that shows any type of craftmanship which is a shame because when track 3, Who’s Laughing Now, kicks in you realise that this would have been a better follow up to the opening number. Its great growling Alice, Depp channelling Bowie, not for the first time this album, and is actually a great listen followed by How the Glass Fell, a harp inspired 30 second piece of filler that really isn’t needed. The Boogieman Surprise is the next full-length number has an old school type swagger to it, and with Jeff Beck and John Waters featured on the next track, Welcome to Bushwhackers the old school style continues. The Wrong Bandage is another filler, the album really doesn’t need these and to be honest they promise something you never receive so they are becoming an annoyance. The first cover is Joe Perry’s chance to shine on vocals and whilst Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory is great, it has been done better. Git from Round Me is a heavy bass, distorted vocal slice of brilliance and I bloody love it.
Next up is Bowie Depp, sorry Johnny Depp, with a cover of Heroes that Ill be honest I was very nervous to listen to. Depp does a great job to be fair, treading a fine line between Bowie and Captain Jack with grace and skill and its actually quite lovely. A Pitiful Beauty is 1.27, longer than other filler moments but fuck off already. New Threat, Mr. Spider, and We Gotta Rise are next and all try something a bit different. New Threat sort of works, Mr. Spider is a divisive track I am sure, but I fall on the side of genius, but what the fuck is We Gotta Rise? It's Fat Les with Alice Cooper as President. It's… well it’s a bloody mess if I’m honest, I’m sure it was meant as joke, or something to take the heaviness of the political environment we currently live in, but its three older gentlemen doing a bad football chant.
Then we come to the best track on the album, People Who Died, the Jim Carroll Band’s brilliant punky brilliance covered here with Depp on vocals and it is honestly exactly what you thought Johnny Depp being in a rock band would sound like. Definitely the stand out cover on Rise, but also the most fun listen I have had in a while, hats off to you Mr. Depp et al. Congratulations finishes off the record, starting with strings and an acoustic guitar and there is a lot to like, Cooper’s spoken words especially stand out.
So, final thoughts on Rise? Could have been an exceptional release and definitely has a lot of highlights, however the little filler moments are annoying at best and a wasteful amount of time where the band could have added another full length track because, with We Gotta Rise being the exception, the full length tracks all land well, enough for fans of all the musicians separately to get their teeth into, enough for a new audience to fall for, with three strong covers and one Depp vocal that stands out. Worth streaming but if anyone reads this who knows the band, please tell them to knock it off with wasteful fillers and Keith Allen tributes.
Image - Amazon