Detroit Stories

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Detroit Stories
Alice Cooper Detroit Stories.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 26, 2021
Recorded2019–2020
Genre Hard rock
Length50:28
Label earMUSIC
Producer Bob Ezrin
Alice Cooper chronology
Paranormal
(2017)
Detroit Stories
(2021)

Detroit Stories is the twenty-first solo and twenty-eighth overall studio album by American singer-songwriter Alice Cooper. The album was released on February 26, 2021, by earMUSIC. [1] [2] The studio album crowned Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart (dated March 3, 2021) debuting at No. 1. It was the first chart-topper for Cooper in the 29-year history of the Top Album Sales chart. [3] The album was produced by Bob Ezrin, who also appears on the album playing the organ. As a solo album, it incorporates a variety of artists contributing on a number of instruments.

Contents

The album feature's themes consistent with the rest of Alice Cooper's discography, with the grandeur and exaggerated shock-rock narratives that he has exhibited in previous work. However, the album also features a significant aspect of nostalgia, as Detroit Stories notes many influences from traditional hard-rock origins in Detroit, and attempts to return to the age of hard-rock that Cooper originated in.

Detroit Stories sold 13,000 copies in its first week of sales (ending March 4th) across CD, of which 9,500 were sold, Vinyl LP, which generated 2,000 sales, and digital download formats making up the remaining 1,500 sales. Additionally, the album topped the Tastemaker Albums chart, which assesses albums based on their sales at independent and small chain music shops, from which 38% of the albums first-week sales originated from.

On the all-genre Billboard 200, Detroit Stories topped at number 47, number 2 on Hard Rock Albums, number 5 on Top Rock Albums, number 7 on Independent Albums and number 18 on Vinyl Albums.

Release

On November 11, 2020, Alice Cooper announced the release of his twenty-first studio album. [4]

Singles

The first single, "Rock & Roll", was released on November 13, 2020, and is a cover of the Velvet Underground's song of the same name. [5]

On December 11, 2020, Alice Cooper released the second single, "Our Love Will Change the World". The single is a cover of American power pop band Outrageous Cherry's 2005 song of the same name. [6]

The third single, "Social Debris", was released on Alice's 73rd birthday on February 4, 2021. It was available as a free download for a limited time. [7]

"Hanging On by a Thread (Don't Give Up)" had previously been released as a single by Alice on May 15, 2020, simply titled "Don't Give Up", to help fans through COVID-19. [8] The lyrics were subsequently altered for the album to raise awareness on mental health.

Context

Detroit Stories is written about Alice Cooper’s origins in music, and the history of hard rock in Detroit, Michigan (Hughes, 2021). As stated by Cooper, he attempted to incorporate something that “tasted like Detroit” [9] into every aspect of the album. Released in a time when hard rock no longer topped the popular music charts, Cooper wrote an album attempting return to the roots of rock and roll and make a “real rock and roll album”. [9]

Thus, Cooper incorporates many musical aspects resonant of the musical era from which he came, and other musicians of the era who inspired him and grew in popularity with him from Detroit. [10]

In accordance with this, there are many Detroit and wider Michigan rock influences throughout the albums track list. For example, Cooper covers Michigan band Outrageous Cherry’s song “Our Love will Change the World,” infusing it with his own, more aggressive style. [11] The song “Go Man Go” includes a guitar part written by Detroit hard rock band MC5’s guitarist Wayne Kramer. In his cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Cooper changes lyrics that originally reminisced on New York to that of Detroit, and in “Despite all the Amputations,” Cooper takes an opportunity to lend credit to a plethora of famous Detroit rockers who inspired him and came from the same hard rock scene, such as Iggy Pop, Ted Nugent and Suzi Quattro [12] . The album furthermore features a number of contributions and credits from many Detroit/Michigan musicians such as Wayne Kramer from MC5 and Mark Farner from the influential Flint, Grand Funk Railroad , a Michigan group, as well as the surviving members of the Alice Cooper group and blues musician Joe Bonamassa . [13]

Hard rock origins in Detroit, Michigan

Cooper was born and raised in Detroit, however, his family moved to Arizona when he was ten years old. He formed his first band in Phoenix, later moving to Los Angeles in an attempt at musical success, however, they were not able to find commercial success until they returned to Detroit to play music. [14] The bands hard rock, infused with psychedelic influences in their early records did not sell well in Los Angeles, but rather found itself more at home in Detroit. [15]

The Alice Cooper band had begun to garner a reputation, seen in the rumours that spread through the country of Vincent Furnier (Alice Cooper front man, later Alice Cooper in solo work) ripping the head off of a chicken and drinking its blood on stage. [15] This reputation managed to find a home in Detroit, Furnier stating that “Detroit understood us” [15] as they began to frequent more shows in Detroit by 1969, before permanently moving there several months later in 1970. [15]

Coopers specific brand of ‘shock rock’ was birthed in Detroit with their theatrical and strange performances. [16] Furnier would appear in front of audiences with a boa constrictor around him, the band would frequently perform cross-dressed and could perform a mock execution on Furnier during the show. [15] The Alice Cooper bands hard-rock and reaction provoking performances grew out of Detroit, [14] as they would perform alongside other famous Detroit rockers such as MC5 and The Stooges. As stated by Cooper, Detroit Stories is a record that attempts to take audiences back to this time in Detroit, as he believes it to be the “home of hard rock”. [15]

Cooper’s history in music is rooted in themes of sex and violence, with an electronic influence born in Detroit, as opposed to the blues influences that dominated the time period. [16] It is these themes that he is reminiscing upon on his album Detroit Stories. Identifying with the youth and rebellion of the time, Cooper’s music thrived in the environment of Detroit. The cult status that his band gathered in this time remains an important part of his musical success and writing to this day. [9]

While the cult status and heavily ‘Detroit’ sound defined Alice Cooper’s music, his appeal managed to surpass similar Detroit bands of the time, such as the MC5 and The Stooges and reach much higher success. This influence has had a large influence on much of the more flashy, glam and ‘glitter’ rock that emerged following Alice Cooper in the seventies.

It was following the bands move to Phoenix that Cooper branched out into solo work, with his first solo album coming out in 1975. The same aesthetic and energy that defined The Alice Cooper band continued in much the same spirit in Coopers later solo work. [16] Cooper continued to deliver similar live performances in the spirit of his Detroit performances through the eighties, and his music continued in much the same vein. [16] Detroit Stories can be seen as a celebration of this brand of hard rock, [9] as Cooper reminisces on his time in Detroit, and his origins in music. [16]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic 71/100 [17]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [18]
American Songwriter Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [19]
Metal Hammer Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [20]
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [21]

At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, this release received an average score of 72 based on 10 reviews, [17] and a 7.3 out of 10 in their ‘user score’ category. These reviews were taken from Under the Radar , Classic Rock Magazine , musicOMH.com, The Independent (UK) and Mojo, (all scoring an 80 out of 100). Additionally, from Punknews.org, Rolling Stone and American Songwriter (all scoring a 70 out of 100). Finally, from Uncut (scoring a 60 out of 100) and AllMusic (scoring a 50 out of 100).

Gareth Williams from Wall of Sound scored the album a perfect 10/10, stating that "diehard fans of Alice Cooper will embrace this album for what it is, back to his roots mix of blues, jazz, soul, hard rock, humour and heart. Casual fans may be surprised at the rocker's versatility, but Alice has never been one dimensional." [22] Writing for AllMusic, Fred Thomas said "Detroit Stories is stuck in a confusing limbo somewhere between tribute to Detroit and another album of the kind of campy, theatrical, radio-geared hard rock Cooper has been turning in since Hey Stoopid. Never quite committing to either concept, Detroit Stories ends up feeling like a handful of solid covers of classic Detroit tunes with some Alice Cooper extras thrown in at random." [18]

Kory Grow of Rolling Stone described the “enduring appeal” of Alice Cooper’s music, stating that when he “hits his stride,” the record is a funny and entertaining listening experience, in which the spirit of Alice Coopers earlier music shines through. However, Grow does criticise Cooper for falling flat in some of the records humour, and not being able to smoothly integrate attempts at serious songs. [5]

Gus Ironside of Louder Than War scored the album a four out of five. Ironside spoke very positively of Cooper’s record, describing it as a “boisterous celebration” of the seventies and sixties metal and hard rock from which Alice Cooper and his band The Alice Cooper Band emerged from. Similar to Grow, Ironside sees the album as an immense amount of fun to listen to, describing the “joi de vivre” of the album as “impossible to resist.” Ironside additionally contextualises the album, claiming it to be one of the greatest things to come out of the twenty-twenty to twenty-twenty one Covid-19 pandemic. [10]

The critical appraisal of Detroit Stories is centred around a nostalgia for the earlier days of Alice Coopers music and admires the elements of his music that originated in and became popular in Detroit and Cooper’s earlier solo work. Aspects such as the shocking and heavy content and presence of his music, as well as the tongue in cheek and often dark sense of humour are the focus of most positive receptions of Detroit Stories.

On the other hand, negative responses to Detroit Stories are defined by a frustration or tiring from the style of Alice Coopers music that originated in his early work in Detroit. [5]

Inspiration

Inspiration for Detroit Stories largely came from Furnier’s memories and experiences in the hard-rock scenes of 1970’s and 1980’s Detroit. [9] He draws heavily on the aesthetic of the ‘motor city’ that he grew up in and became renowned in, attempting to return to the hard rock ‘roots’ that he found there. [9] Stylistically the album is very gritty, and follows the same punk, metal and shock-rock inspired sound of the earlier days of the Alice Cooper Group and the Detroit music scene [5] (Grow, 2021). Inspired by the grandeur of his earlier days in rock and roll, Detroit Stories is full of exaggerated narratives and symbols. [9]

Alice Cooper’s 21st studio album is also largely inspired by his entire history in music. A deeper dive into the history of his music and music in Detroit is prompted in this album. [9] Detroit Stories is a reflection upon the music of Alice Cooper, not just a certain time period in music. [9] Thus, inspiration for Detroit Stories has also been drawn from Cooper’s entire career in music. Further, not only the music of Alice Cooper, but the aesthetic of his music and performances are a large inspiration for this album, as similar themes are seen all throughout the album. [9]

The music in Detroit Stories is a reflection upon Cooper’s time in the music industry as well as a celebration of his origins in music, which is seen stylistically throughout the album. [9] [5]

Track listing

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Rock & Roll" (The Velvet Underground cover) Lou Reed 4:43
2."Go Man Go" Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Tommy Henriksen, Wayne Kramer 2:40
3."Our Love Will Change the World" (Outrageous Cherry cover)Matthew Smith3:39
4."Social Debris"Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Neal Smith 3:05
5."$1000 High Heel Shoes"Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Wayne Kramer3:29
6."Hail Mary"Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Tommy Henriksen3:15
7."Detroit City 2021"Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Tommy Henriksen, Ryan Roxie, Chuck Garric 3:20
8."Drunk and in Love"Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Dennis Dunaway 3:52
9."Independence Dave"Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Wayne Kramer2:57
10."I Hate You"Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Dennis Dunaway2:34
11."Wonderful World"Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Tommy Henriksen, Tommy Denander 3:20
12."Sister Anne" (MC5 cover)Fred "Sonic" Smith4:47
13."Hanging On by a Thread (Don't Give Up)"Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Tommy Henriksen3:36
14."Shut Up and Rock"Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Tommy Henriksen, Tommy Denander2:09
15."East Side Story" (Bob Seger & The Last Heard cover) Bob Seger 2:52
Total length:50:28

Personnel

Charts

Chart performance for Detroit Stories
Chart (2021)Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA) [23] 3
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders) [24] 17
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia) [25] 7
Canadian Albums (Billboard) [26] 56
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI) [27] 27
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100) [28] 51
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista) [29] 6
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100) [30] 1
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ) [31] 23
Italian Albums (FIMI) [32] 39
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista) [33] 22
Polish Albums (ZPAV) [34] 39
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan) [35] 7
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade) [36] 3
UK Albums (OCC) [37] 4
US Billboard 200 [38] 47
US Top Hard Rock Albums (Billboard) [39] 2
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard) [40] 5

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