I was recently visiting Los Angeles when I heard the news that another album was forthcoming by the Hollywood Vampires. I immediately made it a priority to visit the Sunset Strip to see the legendary Rainbow Bar and Grill where Alice Cooper would regularly join notable artists like Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson, Micky Dolenz and Ringo Starr for lengthy evenings of drink and overindulgence during the 1970s that earned them the name Hollywood Vampires.
In 2015, Cooper would call his newly formed supergroup by the same name as a tribute.
The Hollywood Vampires return and welcome a new cast of characters from Cooper’s nightmarish mind on the supergroup’s second release.
With “Rise,” Cooper, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and actor-guitarist Johnny Depp deliver a searing set of original tracks as well as three engaging covers.
Depp impressively handles the lead vocals on David Bowie’s “Heroes” and the Jim Carroll Band’s “People Who Died,” whereas Perry takes the microphone to deliver an adequate version of Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.”
While these performances are entertaining, make no mistake that Cooper’s sinister vocals and commanding presence are the band’s lifeblood.
“I Want My Now” opens the set with a gritty guitar introduction reminiscent of classic Aerosmith that is followed by Cooper ominously singing, “I want a crown, I wanna reign/I wanna be a royal pain/And I want it now.”
Cooper’s at his chilling best on the menacing “Who’s Laughing Now” and the villainous “The Boogieman Surprise.”
“Mr. Spider” continues the dark and devilish themes first highlighted on Cooper’s “The Black Widow” from 1975’s “Welcome to My Nightmare” and then again on 2008’s “Along Came a Spider.”
Cooper attempts to rally the disgruntled masses on “We Gotta Rise.” Sounding like a political candidate, Cooper enthusiastically returns to the campaign mode earlier unleashed on 1973’s “Elected.”
“Welcome to Bushwackers” features appearances by Jeff Beck and John Waters and aptly conveys the band’s rabble-rousing attitude as Cooper sings, “Nobody tells me what to say, nobody tells me what to do/I drank your bar tab dry last night and I clipped your wallet, too.”
“Congratulations” closes the set and serves as an anthem of survival with Cooper confessing, “The dark looks for me and can't understand/How I slipped right through its fingers.”
The band currently has a limited set of tour dates announced. With Pittsburgh not on the list, area fans can still catch Cooper co-headlining with Halestorm on July 19 at KeyBank Pavilion.
Clint Rhodes is the Herald-Standard music reviewer. He can be reached at email@example.com.