“I must be dreaming please stop screaming…”
I must have been 11 or 12 years old when I first bought the cassette tape of Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare. I can remember when I first heard it like it was yesterday. I was at a cottage in Grand Bend, a little town off Lake Huron and it was summer. I remember listening to it at night right before I went to sleep, and right after I’d read a story out of Stephen King’s short story collection Graveyard Shift. What was the story? I think it was Quitter’s Inc. It’s a great, great story in a great, great compilation. If you haven’t read this collection I would highly recommend it.
Anyway, back to the Coop. The first 2/3rds of the album were classic Alice. The title track is still a great example of showbiz metal disco done right, the segue into The Black Widow entitled Devil’s Food came complete with a spoken word introduction by a very creepy Vincent Price, an effective gimmick usurped by Michael Jackson for the title track to Thriller a number of years after the fact. The track Some Folks had a bit of a Broadway feel to it and Only Women Bleed, the surprise ‘hit’, was a ballad. The next 2 cuts, Cold Ethyl and Department Of Youth were pretty straightforward and could have appeared on any Alice Cooper album up to that point, but the next three tracks (Years Ago, Steven, The Awakening) scared the ever-lovin’ crap out of me. I still don’t know what the story is all about, but I think it has to do with madness, a schizophrenic serial killer and somebody’s dead mother. The character Steven even has his own Facebook page now! Anyway, it was the weird, atmospheric music that made it so damn scary anyway, with a tinkling piano refrain that rivals Tubular Bells from the Exorcist.
I wake up in the basement I’m so hungry I’m dry
I must be here sleepwalking mustn’t I
Getting up from my easy chair looking for my wife
Following a trial of crimson spots that lead into the night
Suddenly I realize I see it all through real eyes
These crimson spots are dripping from my hand
Welcome To My Nightmare ends rather awkwardly with the standard classic rock of Escape, but it cannot take away from the overall frightening goodness of the rest of the record. I still listen to it every Halloween. As a matter of fact it’s almost time to put it on now…