Album review: Alice Cooper – The Breadcrumbs EP

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Definition of ‘breadcrumbs’

Throughout his 50 year career, Alice Cooper has navigated many different genres, often unconnected to one another. At times he was adapting his music to current fashion, but more often than not, his own eclectic tastes drove this stylistic diversity. But through all that, his songs have always had that Alice touch, defined by a sharp wit, an oft-misunderstood penchant for social commentary and a garage rock-like enthusiasm.

‘Breadcrumbs’ is first and foremost a love letter to his home town of Detroit where the 71-year-old shock rocker was born. Over the years, he’s never hidden his affection for the Motor City and its rich musical history, and this EP pays homage to his early musical inspirations, with a few of Detroit’s best musicians making appearances, and producing legend Bob Ezrin behind the board. Covering artists that the mainstream has largely forgotten, he’s providing us with a fascinating look into the building blocks of his musical style. Like a twisted Hansel and Gretel, these are the musical breadcrumbs he’s leaving behind to lead us back to his influences.

The EP opens with a cover of Alice’s own ‘Detroit City’, from his album ‘The Eyes of Alice Cooper’, now renamed ‘Detroit City 2020’. He’s reworked the song quite a bit, and as much as I loved the original, I think I prefer this version. The extensive name-dropping of Detroit musicians like Kid Rock, Iggy Pop or Eminem perfectly sets up the table for the musical journey to come.

‘Go Man Go’ is next, and is the lone original song on ‘Breadcrumbs’. It captures the fearless spirit of early Alice Cooper better than anything he’s done in decades. Bob Seger’s ‘East Side Story’ is arguably the weak point of the record, although it’s been growing on me. Knowing Alice’s love for ‘West Side Story’ (which he even covered way back on the ‘School’s Out’ album), maybe the title is what drew him to it.

His rendition of Suzi Quatro’s ‘Your Mama Won’t Like Me’ brings things back on track, followed by a great take on ‘Devil With a Blue Dress On’ by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. The EP closes with ‘Sister Anne’, originally by the MC5, perhaps the ultimate Detroit garage band. Through all those songs, Alice’s love for this music is obvious and it ignites the songs with a fire we haven’t heard from him in a while. Rumour has it he’s preparing an album for 2020, with Bob Ezrin producing and a bevy of a Detroit musicians. If this is a rehearsal for that record, I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with.

’The Breadcrumbs EP’ is available now digitally, and on 7” vinyl limited to 20,000 copies. The record is the only physical format available.

Jean-Frederic Vachon
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