Paranormal Era

Background

Paranormal is the 27th 'Alice Cooper' studio album and was released in 2017. Unlike previous albums Welcome 2 My Nightmare and Along Came A Spider, Paranormal is not a concept album and instead simply contains a collection of straight-forward rock songs. It is therefore much more in keeping with the likes of the other 21st century albums The Eyes Of Alice Cooper and Dirty Diamonds.

 

This album was released under the earMUSIC label and things got off to a somewhat shaky start when the cover was revealed, featuring a computer generated double-headed Alice (one looking solemn-faced and the other in classic Alice ’snarl’ pose). I think it was fair to say that this wasn’t what many fans were after as, to them; it was a hint of a possible comedy / parody album. Combine this with song titles like Genuine American Girl (which sounded suspiciously similar to the love/hate The Saga Of Jesse Jane from Dirty Diamonds) and expectations amongst some fans begun to lower before they’d heard a single second of the new material!   

 

One good thing about the cover though is that the image of Alice contrasted nicely with the white background and this had quite a positive impact when it was stacked on the shelves in record stores. This may possibly have helped the album achieve strong sales in the weeks following its release, with it featuring in numerous top 10 charts across the world.

 

The album saw Alice collaborate with a number of artists, including Tommy Henriksen (from his touring band), Larry Mullen (U2), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Roger Glover (Deep Purple) and Steve Hunter (a long-time contributor to all things Alice Cooper). Most excitingly of all though was the return of former Alice Cooper Group members Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce and Neal Smith, who all feature on Rats and two bonus tracks (Genuine American Girl and You And All Of Your Friends). Dennis also features on The Sound Of A, which he and Alice originally wrote in 1968! 

 

Initial copies of the album also came provided with six bonus live tracks, but they are sadly only much-played solo tour tracks taken from the 2016 Spend The Night With Alice Cooper tour at Columbus, Ohio. It would have been much more fitting if the live tracks were those of the Live From The Astroturf Group performance at Good Records, Dallas in 2015 (thankfully, an LP of these tracks was eventually released in 2018).

 

The title track kicks the album off, with a subdued guitar solo quickly building in momentum before we get our first listen of Alice’s vocals. Thankfully, he remains in fine form at the tender age of 69 as he reveals his latest power, the ability to lovingly haunt from beyond the grave! This sort of plays out like a miniature Iron Maiden track with the song having notably defined segments, including a sizable mid-track guitar solo. This is something not really seen before in an Alice track and does seem somewhat forced on the first few listens. It does just about work though.

 

Dead Flies is short and sharp at only 2 minutes 22 seconds, with Alice appearing to warn us of the horrors of the internet! It’s nicely delivered, and over before you know it, but not before a full assault on the ears.

 

Things really step up a notch with the stunning Fireball, which is actually a cover of a little know song by Dennis Dunaway Project guitarist Rick Tedesco, having originally been penned as a demo by Dennis himself. As the title suggest, this is about a biblical-sized Fireball plummeting to the Earth and wiping out everything in its path. Alice’s voice is manipulated somewhat to give us a Strokes style sound, not a problem though as it sounds great. This is a very listenable, very cool, track and one of the best things Alice has done for many years. 

 

Paranoiac Personality, the first single from the album, is a straight-up rocker and closely resembles I’ll Bite Your Face Off from Welcome 2 My Nightmare. Whilst it still won’t win any prizes for style or originality, it’s much better than IBYFO and has some good quirky production, lyrics and vocals.

 

Fallen In Love is instantly likeable, with a big-guitar, classic rock, feel to it and some ‘Easter Egg’ mentions of previous Alice albums and songs.

 

Dynamite Road is another short track at 2 minutes and 43 seconds and has an instantly similar feel to A Runaway Train from Welcome 2 My Nightmare.  This time Alice relives his earlier days on the road, fuelled by alcohol, women and danger, whilst cruising in a Cadillac. 

 

Private Public Breakdown is a bit of slow-burner and is probably the weakest track on the album, in my opinion. There’s nothing particularly bad about it, but it’s fairly unexceptional and simply fails to compete with the much stronger material available elsewhere.  

 

Holy Water appears to have divided fans more than any other on the album, with parallels drawn with the comedic-styled Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever and Ghouls Gone Wild from Welcome 2 My Nightmare. This is simply unfair though as Holy Water is a much better track, that is far wittier with Alice at his showman-like, psychotic-sounding, best. Like Fireball, this is actually also a cover (albeit personalised) of an existing song, having been previously released a year earlier by the American rock band Villebillies

 

Rats is another sub-3-minute rocker that is dedicated to our furry little rodent friends. It’s totally bonkers, it makes no sense at all, but is absolutely brilliant and so catchy that you’ll be tapping your feet and bopping your head to it.

 

After the hustle and bustle of Holy Water and Rats, The Sound Of A is a seismic shift into the tranquil world of Deep Purple with haunting guitars and vocals to match. Its origins, however, are even older as the song was originally a demo created by Alice and Dennis Dunaway in 1967! I’m not fully clear on what ‘The Sound Of A’ actually is, but I’m happy to work on the simple basis that A is for Alice and that he’s singing about himself!  

 

Genuine American Girl allegedly started life as ‘I Wanna Genuine American’ but was changed to place Alice as the Genuine American Girl. As stated above, this inevitably creates comparisons with The Sage Of Jesse Jane (some of the lyrics are also similar to Love Should Never Feel Like This from The Eyes Of Alice Cooper) but they are actually very different songs, with this one being the better. It’s a real radio friendly, track with an acceptable level of humour and the Alice Cooper Group members all play with great synergy after all these years.  

 

This excellent overall album comes to a close with the decent, angst-filled, rocker You And All Your Friends, which appears to have some political undertones! This one is a real grower and another really solid effort by the surviving Alice Cooper Group members. It certainly begs the question of what else could be achieved by them given the opportunity!     

Paranormal Album Cover

Paranormal 12" Vinyl Album

2017, Ear Music, 0212198EMU

This European vinyl version of Paranormal is limited to 3,000 units and features a nice gatefold sleeve design complete with great blown-up images of Alice on both the inside and vinyl sleeves. The album is provided on two glossy black, 180 gram discs containing three tracks each. 

 

An interesting aspect of the vinyl release is that the two tracks with the surviving Alice Cooper Group members that featured on the bonus disc of the CD version (below) are now provided between Rats and The Sound Of A (one would argue, where they should have been in the first place) so they essentially now form part of the album proper.

 

The other item of note is that the live tracks that also featured on the bonus disc of the CD version are neatly provided on a bonus CD of their own, which comes in a simple card sleeve. This is a very nice touch by Ear Music and makes you feel that no expense has been spared in offering fans a complete listening experience at good value for money. The only thing missing from this excellent offering is a download code for the tracks on MP3 format.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Paranormal 12" Vinyl Album

2017, Ear Music, 0212198EMU

In addition to the black vinyl version of Paranormal (above), an alternative European opaque red vinyl version was also produced. This was also limited to 3,000 copies and is exactly the same other than the distinctive red 180 gram discs, an alternative hype sticker on the front and a different barcode on the back (that is stuck over the original one). The product code remains the same on the vinyl labels though.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Paranormal 12" Vinyl Album

2019, Ear Music, 0212198EMU

This further European vinyl version of Paranormal was released in 2019 and is exactly the same as the black version (above) only that it features opaque white vinyl discs, an alternative hype sticker on the front and a different barcode on the back (that is stuck over the original one). The product code of this release remains the same on the vinyl labels though.  

 

One final difference is that it does not feature the bonus CD, but then I guess most would already have this from the original releases (above).

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Paranormal Promotional CD

2017, Verycords

This French promotional CD features a simple card sleeve and includes Paranormal, Fireball and Paranoiac Personality (all from the Paranormal album). Inside is an unlabelled blue CD-R. The label on the front of the sleeve indicates a release date of '28.07.2017'.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Paranormal CD Album

2017, Ear Music, 0212146EMU

This European version of Paranormal comes in a 'Digipak' featuring 2 CDs, the first of which contains the 10-track album with the other being a bonus CD featuring 2 songs by the surviving Alice Cooper Group members (Genuine American Girl and You And All Of Your Friends) plus six live tracks from Alice's solo show of May 2016 at Columbus, Ohio.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Paranormal CD Album Box Set

2017, Ear Music, 0212146EMU

This limited edition European version of Paranormal on CD features a deceptively deep box containing the standard CD (above) minus hype sticker plus a Paranormal-themed T-shirt that is folded to within an inch of its life (which frustratingly only came in extra-large size, so pretty useless to many fans).  

 

On the rear of the case is a sticker showing the contents and confirming the tracks. Randomly, the sticker is orientated the other way to the cover, so you have to turn the box to read it. 

 

Overall, this is pretty cool but it doesn't really offer much of interest over the standard CD. A choice of T-shirts sizes would definitely have helped!

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Paranormal CD Album

2017, Ear Music, 0212486EMU

This European CD version of Paranormal was released just before the 2017 UK tour and was marketed on Amazon as a 'Tour Edition'. Any excitement ends there though as it is actually just a stripped down version of the original Digipak release (above) and there is no actual reference to it being the Tour Edition on the packaging itself. Just one CD is contained in a jewel case, which features the full album and 2 bonus tracks bolted on at the end (the live material is dropped entirely).   

 

The most notable aspect of this release is that it probably features the largest hype sticker that I've ever seen for a CD. It obliterates nearly half of the front cover! The booklet is exactly the same as the original release only that the front cover is different.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Paranoiac Personality Promotional CD Single

2017, Ear Music, 0212202EMU

This European promotional CD single comes in a plastic wallet, features a simple folded paper sleeve, and includes the album version of Paranoiac Personality only. The CD (which is a blue CD-R type variety) states a release date for the Paranormal album of '28 July 2017'.

 

The back of the wallet sleeve includes a sticker on the clear wallet stating:

 

'earMUSIC is proud to announce the worldwide signing of legendary shock-rocker Alice Cooper. "Paranormal", Alice Cooper's new studio album, his first in 6 years, is to be released on July 28th, 2017 on ear MUSIC. The 12-track album has been recorded in Nashville with long-time collaborator Bob Ezrin and features a very special bonus CD - a mini-album consisting of three brand new songs written and recorded together with the original Alice Cooper band.

 

Alice Cooper will be touring extensively this year in support of "Paranormal", visiting cities in the USA, Europe, Australasia'.

 

The mention of 3 brand new songs involving the original Alice Cooper Group on the bonus CD didn't end up being correct, as it eventually only featured Genuine American Girl and You And All Of Your Friends. It may, however, may have possibly been referring to Rats, which did involve all the surviving members of the Group and ended up on the album proper.

 

Note: There appears to be more than one version of this CD, with at least two variants present featuring very minor difference on the CD labels (see example image below). 

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Paranoiac Personality 7" Vinyl Single

2017, Ear Music, 0212202EMU

This European 7" opaque white vinyl single features the album version of Paranoiac Personality from Paranormal on Side A plus the excellent version of I'm Eighteen from the Live From The Astroturf single (which was recorded at Good Records in Dallas in 2015).

 

The single, like the album, features a bold cover with Alice in spider eye make-up set against a bright white background.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

The Sound Of A CD EP

2018, Ear Music, 0212674EMU 

The second single release from the Paranormal album was this European EP offering of The Sound Of A. Also featured are 4 live tracks from the Spend The Night With Alice Cooper solo show at Columbus, Ohio on May 06th 2016. These are opener The Black Widow, the rarely played (and great sounding) Public Animal #9, Is It My Body and Cold Ethyl.

 

This version is presented in a nice Digipak design featuring close-up / cut-off images of Alice in full 'Spider Eyes' make-up. Inside the front cover are track listings and credits.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

The Sound Of A 10" Vinyl EP

2018, Ear Music, 0212673EMU

In addition to the above CD release, The Sound Of A was also subject to a rare European 10" EP vinyl release. The track contents are the same with the opaque white vinyl disc nicely matching the previous 7" vinyl single of Paranoiac Personality (see above).

 

The artwork is identical to the CD version with the vinyl sliding into a simple card sleeve. Unlike the CD version though, the vinyl was an individually hand-numbered, limited edition, release with mine being #2,318 of 4,000 (as shown above the barcode on the bottom right of the rear sleeve).

 

Update: It has since come to light that Ear Music rather sneakily extended the production of this 'limited edition' release by a further 2,000 copies. See the images embedded below for more details.

 

Discogs Link: Click Here

Paranormal, London Press Pack

2017

This press kit was issued to persons attending the UK 'Paranormal Album Event' at the Secret Masonic Temple in London on 29th June 2017. The kit features a white Ear Music card wallet and includes a one-page welcome letter, a list of European tour dates and a nice glossy photo of the Paranormal album cover hand signed by Alice. 

For the A Paranormal Evening concert releases Click Here.

For the The Breadcrumbs era Click Here.