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By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 11:56 AM

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earMusic - 2017

It is true confession time again. Until buying this album, I've never actually owned an Alice Cooper release. I was plenty satisfied with the songs they played on the radio being my basic soundtrack of his music. Of course, that did change a little bit after seeing him in concert twice. He put on two great performances and it made me want to get into his musical catalog. Unfortunately, I never got around to it.

But now I have Paranormal in my musical mitts and I'm really quite enjoying the hell out of this album.

The two disc set is almost like an all-star project if you account for all the special guests that are involved with the creation of the disc. You've got Bob Ezrin once again producing the album as well as playing on the songs and co-writing them as well. But also getting those same credits are band member Tommy Henriksen and Swedish producer/guitarist Tommy Denander. I know that he has a ton of other credits in and out of the rock/metal world, but I best remember Henriksen as the bassist for WARLOCK on their Triumph And Agony album. As for Denander, if you haven't heard of him before you must not listen to much in the way of European melodic rock. He has his fingers in so many releases (particularly from the label Frontiers Music Srl that you'd think it was a law that he had to be involved in every album from that genre).

However, that isn't all the guest star talent on display here. DEEP PURPLE bassist Roger Glover is on the CD opening title track (a mid-to-uptempo number that quite adeptly rocks out while simultaneously establishing a very creepy vibe for the listeners), while ZZ TOP's Billy Gibbons is one of three guitarists on "Fallen In Love", an amped up rocker that shows off a bit of the lyrical gems to be found throughout the album. Most impressively to me for reasons I can't rightly explain is U2 drummer Larry Mullen playing on 9 of the 10 tracks on the main album.

I have to say that I wasn't too crazy about the songs "Private Public Breakdown" or "The Sound Of A". I found both songs left me with an almost uncontrollable desire to shrug my shoulders and say, "Eh..."

Thankfully, that was pretty much the only real downside to the studio album disc. Well, okay, I didn't care for the effects used on the vocal track for "Fireball", but the winning musical score for the song made up for that nitpick. "Dead Flies" was a strong rocker with an edgy vocal take.

I know that when people describe Alice Cooper they almost invariably feel it necessary to add the phrase "shock rocker", but what I like about this album is how there are a variety of song styles incorporated into the whole. You can picture Alice with the top hat and riding crop, the ringmaster of the circus striding the stage in songs like the aforementioned "Fallen In Love" or "Holy Water". These songs are made for live performance. One note about the latter track, there are eight people given a writing credit for the song.

There's a full throttle speedy design to "Rats" and there's even a song like "Dynamite Road" where the main lyrical verses are done in a spoken word style with the chorus being sung. The lyrical content sounds like it is Alice's attempt at at paying homage to the CHARLIE DANIELS BAND song "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" and it is a very winning number.

Of course, then there is "Paranoiac Personality" which sounds like it was written just for me or that at least Alice was trying to talk directly to me. It is balanced out a little by the fact that while it is a creepifying type of song, you could also take the opposite tact and kind of chuckle at the story on display in the song.

Not content with releasing a standard studio album, this Alice Cooper release has that previously mentioned 2nd disc. It features 2 studio tracks billed as being written and performed by the original ALICE COOPER BAND (minus the late Glen Buxton). Of course drummer Neal Smith, guitarist Michael Bruce and bassist Dennis Dunaway also make appearances on the regular studio album portion as well. The first of the two songs here is "Genuine American Girl" which is a hard rocking song with great lyrics, including my favorite line of the whole album "I'm only 30 out of 50 shades of gray". The second song is "You And All Your Friends", another rocker cut that does lean a bit towards a more old time rock and roll feel at times during the song.

The remaining tracks on the bonus disc are 6 live tracks from a May 6th, 2016 concert in Columbus, Ohio. It's a kind of greatest hits selection and while it doesn't really do anything to enhance the overall quality of the album as a whole, the performance sounds great. The tracks are "No More Mr. Nice Guy", "Under My Wheels", "Billion Dollar Babies", "Feed My Frankenstein", "Only Women Bleed" and "School's Out".

I'd heard some good things from friends about Paranormal but had really avoided much in the way of songs released online or the full details of what others had to say about the disc so that I could really form my own opinion.

All I can say is that I had myself a blast listening to this album (and I'm listening to it again as this review is being written) and I find myself marveling that Alice Cooper continues to release such great music to this day. The definition of the word paragon is "a person or thing regarded as a model of excellence". In 2017, Cooper and Paranormal fit that definition to a "T".

4.5 Out Of 5.0

Pick up your copy of Paranormal in the KNAC.COM More Store right HERE.

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