One of the early supporters of the band that would become Alice Cooper was The Doors, and lead singer Vincent Furnier was one of Jim Morrison’s drinking friends. Drinking would become such a staple of the rock and rollers’ after-hours life that Furnier and his rock stars created a drinking club called the Hollywood Vampires. Forty years after the deaths of most of those rock stars, Furnier has formed a supergroup with Joe Perry and actor Johnny Depp called The Hollywood Vampires, together with some heavyweights of rock and roll including Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Brian Johnson, Dave Grohl, Zak Starkey, Perry Farrell, Slash, Christopher Lee, and Robby Krieger.
The Hollywood Vampires opens with a dramatic reading of the “Children of the Night” section of Dracula by Christopher Lee which works as an epigram for the album. Following that is one of the two original songs on the album, “Raise the Dead”, which acts as an introduction. The two in concert set the tone for the work.
In The Hollywood Vampires, Cooper, Depp and Perry have managed to give the group and the album their own ‘sound’ that is maintained throughout. This was probably hard to do with all the special guests featured on the album and their differing styles, plus the fact that the songs covered run the gamut of rock and roll styles and influences as well. So, no one player and their sound overwhelms the group and you’d be hard pressed (unless you have a very discerning ear) to distinguish who is playing what. That isn’t to say that the individual artists aren’t given their own room to display their unique talents, with Paul McCartney on “Come and Get It” featuring both his vocals and playing, Brian Johnson trading off vocals with Cooper on “School’s Out”, and interestingly enough Perry Farrell and Cooper’s voice melding very well on a few of the songs.
Furnier displays range in his singing from the creepy Alice Cooper to a lighter touch on Harry Nilsson’s “One/Jump into the Fire”, or even the very ‘pop’ rendition of Randy California‘s “I Got a Line On You”. A real standout of the album is Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” in which Cooper gives the opening lines a much more dangerous edge than the more flower-power touch of Zeppelin but then kicks into a really rocking cover of the song.
As oft has been stated, Cooper started doing these covers in concert and decided to put together the group and the album as a tribute to the rockers he hung out with and drank with. (Cooper mentions Jim Morrison in just about every interview about “The Hollywood Vampires”.) Robby Krieger plays on not only the “Five to One/Break on Through” medley but also the Harry Nilsson medley of “One/Jump into the Fire”. In the liner notes, Cooper also adds another touching mention of The Doors, in remembering Ray Manzarek along with Jim Morrison.
Fans of all flavors of rock and roll will really like the covers on this album, with some rocking listening for your drive to work or something a little different for your next party. “Hollywood Vampires” is now available on Amazon.
Originally published September 27, 2015.