Welcome to My Nightmare

Last updated
Welcome to My Nightmare
Welcome To My Nightmare.jpg
Cover art by Drew Struzan
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 11, 1975
Recorded1974–1975
StudioSoundstage, Toronto; Record Plant East, Electric Lady and A&R Studios, New York City
Genre Hard rock, glam rock [1]
Length43:19
Label Atlantic
Producer Bob Ezrin
Alice Cooper chronology
Greatest Hits
(1974)
Welcome to My Nightmare
(1975)
Alice Cooper Goes to Hell
(1976)
Singles from Welcome to My Nightmare
  1. "Department of Youth"
    Released: March 1975
  2. "Only Women Bleed"
    Released: April 1975
  3. "Welcome to My Nightmare"
    Released: October 1975

Welcome to My Nightmare is an album by Alice Cooper, released in March 1975. It is Alice Cooper's first solo album (all previous Alice Cooper releases were band efforts), and his only album for the Atlantic Records label. Welcome to My Nightmare is a concept album. Played in sequence, the songs form a journey through the nightmares of a child named Steven. The album inspired the Alice Cooper: The Nightmare TV special, a worldwide concert tour in 1975, and the Welcome to My Nightmare concert film in 1976. 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.

Contents

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". [2] Famed film actor of the horror genre Vincent Price provided a monologue in the song "Devil's Food". 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. [3] [4] The ballad "Only Women Bleed", released as a single, is a song originally composed by guitarist Dick Wagner for his late-1960s band The Frost, with a new title provided by Cooper and revised lyrics written by Wagner and Cooper. [5] The remastered CD version adds three alternate version bonus tracks.

A sequel concept album, Welcome 2 My Nightmare , was released in 2011.

Background

The Alice Cooper band broke up by Spring of 1974, with Cooper beginning work on his first solo project. [6] Cooper intended the music to be more theatrical than the previous glam-rock focused records. [6] Cooper hired Bob Ezrin, who had produced four previous Cooper records, to collaborate with him. [6] The album is a concept album, with Cooper telling the story of the nightmares of the character Steven. [6] Ezrin, Steve Hunter, and Dick Wagner had all performed on the Alice Cooper band’s 1973 album Billion Dollar Babies , produced by Ezrin. Subsequently, Ezrin produced and performed on Lou Reed’s 1973 concept album Berlin , including Hunter, Wagner, and Tony Levin. Reed’s band on his following live album Rock 'n' Roll Animal was composed of Hunter, Wagner, Prakash John, and Pentti Glan. Ezrin and Cooper hired all four members of Reed’s live band, plus Levin, to work on Cooper’s new album. [6] Wagner and Ezrin would co-write the majority of the tracks with Cooper. [6]

Style

The album has been described as featuring rock [7] [8] and hard rock. [7] [9]

The opening track has been referred to as "Disco flavored". [7] "Only Women Bleed" is a ballad, and "Some Folks" has been compared to cabaret. [7]

Reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [7]
Christgau's Record Guide B– [10]
Rolling Stone (mixed) [8]
Classic Rock Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [9]

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." [8]

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." [10]

A retrospective review by Allmusic's Greg Prato was more positive. Prato considered the album 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." [7] The New York Times, describing the subsequent tour, said that Cooper was much tougher than he looked in concert. [11]

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 [12] – 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; [13] while "Some Folks" [14] and "Escape" [15] were never performed after the album's support tour apart from a handful of performances of the latter song in 2001. Alice started playing "Escape" again on his 2019/20 Ol’ Black Eyes Is Back Tour.

Track listing

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Welcome to My Nightmare" Cooper, Wagner 5:19
2."Devil's Food"Cooper, Ezrin, Kelley Jay3:38
3."The Black Widow"Cooper, Wagner, Ezrin3:37
4."Some Folks"Cooper, Gordon, Ezrin4:19
5."Only Women Bleed"Cooper, Wagner5:49
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
6."Department of Youth"Cooper, Wagner, Ezrin3:18
7."Cold Ethyl"Cooper, Ezrin2:51
8."Years Ago"Cooper, Wagner2:51
9."Steven"Cooper, Ezrin5:52
10."The Awakening"Cooper, Wagner, Ezrin2:25
11."Escape"Cooper, Fowley, Anthony 3:20
2002 CD reissue bonus tracks
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
12."Devil's Food" (alternate version)Cooper, Ezrin, Jay5:13
13."Cold Ethyl" (alternate version)Cooper, Ezrin2:56
14."The Awakening" (alternate version)Cooper, Wagner, Ezrin4:20

Personnel

Additional personnel

Chart positions

Certifications

Sales certifications for Welcome to My Nightmare
RegionCertification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA) [19] Platinum70,000^
Canada (Music Canada) [20] 2× Platinum200,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [21] Silver60,000^
United States (RIAA) [22] Platinum1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Stage adaption

Cooper talked with Rolling Stone over the theatrical adaption of his album, [23] although there has been little traction on this since 2010.

Cover versions

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.

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References

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  12. Alice Cooper Setlists; Album Statistics, Setlist.fm
  13. Alice Cooper Setlists; ‘The Awakening’, Setlist.fm
  14. Alice Cooper Setlists; "Some Folks", Setlist.fm
  15. Alice Cooper Setlists; "Escape", Setlist.fm
  16. 1 2 Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN   0-646-11917-6.
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  21. "British album certifications – Alice Cooper – Welcome To My Nightmare". British Phonographic Industry . Retrieved 26 October 2020.Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Welcome To My Nightmare in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  22. "American album certifications – Alice Cooper – Welcome To My Nightmare". Recording Industry Association of America . Retrieved 26 October 2020.If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
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