|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Bob Marlette|
|Record Label: Spitfire||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2001||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 60%|
|Running Time: 50:54|
The Christian faith of Alice Cooper is without question, and Dragontown is his third release, along with The Last Temptation and Brutal Planet, to reflect that faith. Brutal Planet - an album with a theme that if no one believes in God we literally have a "brutal planet" - is the first album in a three part series with the second, Dragontown, based around the concept that the road to hell is littered with nice guys with good intentions. From a musical standpoint, Dragontown features more of the same type of guitar driven hard rock backed by a down tuned low end found on Brutal Planet. In putting forth a performance as charismatic as ever, Alice's scratchy rough edged voice continues to remain a strong and steady presence. While Dragontown showcases solid musicianship from front to back, it is difficult to comment on specifics due to the high number of musicians participating on the project.
Dragontown features a good crisp and refined sounding production job. The rhythm guitar and rhythm section both come across full and heavy. The lead guitar evenly rises above the instrumentation.
Getting the album underway to a brief drum solo, a crunchy rhythm guitar quickly conveys the upbeat “Triggerman” to a chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook. A fast paced guitar solo closes out the songs last forty seconds.
The down tuned heavy low end of "Deeper" would not sound out of place on Brutal Planet. Opening to eerie sounding keyboards, a muscular guitar riff briefly carries the song forward until the bass guitar drives its verse. "Deeper" slow to choir-like vocal harmonies prior to picking up in pace for a sweeping melodic flavored chorus.
Once a slowly played guitar line leads "Dragontown" through its first verse, the rhythm guitar steps forward and propels it to a catchy chorus with a good commercial feel. Several second of sharp sounding lead guitar work aligns itself with the songs upbeat tempo.
"Sex, Death And Money" advances to a choppy rhythm guitar backed by a punchy bass line, the two taking the song at a mid-tempo pace to an anthemic chorus ending to a hard hitting riff. I wish Alice and company had expanded upon an instrumental passage limited to a few seconds of lead guitar. On "Sex, Death And Money" Alice displays his penchant for writing witty lyrics:
When I go to the show
All I see on the screen is a stream of pure vulgarity
I wrote down a note
I complained for a day to the house of representatives
They laughed in my face
They said: son you're a one in a million minority
Kicking in at an upbeat tempo, "Fantasy Man" moves ahead to a crisp sounding rhythm guitar until it picks up in pace for an energy-laden chorus backed by vocal harmonies. Once again, an instrumental passage featuring several brief seconds of lead guitar is to be found wanting. "Fantasy Man" also stands out with its witty lyrics:
I don't drink tea or white chablis
I sit around and watch tv
Don't send flowers or take showers
But I'll be there to pull your weeds
I don't read books
I don't French cook
Or stroll around in galleries
I hate opera, I hate Oprah
Don't fill my head with poetry
"Somewhere In The Jungle" commences to a heavy and driving guitar riff. Slowing to a muscular bass line at the start of its first verse, the song gains momentum as the rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix to underscore a strong mature sounding chorus. "Somewhere..." briefly pauses for several seconds of very well done fiery lead guitar work.
After the groove flavored "Disgraceland" slowly proceeds through its first verse to a bass heavy riff, it picks up in pace for an ordinary sounding chorus that lacks the same appeal as the albums more noteworthy material. Alice takes a tongue and cheek approach to Elvis on "Disgraceland":
Went to the pearly gates
Said I'm here to sing
And Peter said: "Well son, you see we've already got ourselves a King"
Progressing at a slower more mid-tempo pace, the lackluster "Sister Sara" is augmented by female vocal harmonies prior to arriving at its colorless and uninspired sounding chorus.
The customary tear jerking acoustic and string based ballad "Every Woman Has A Name" showcases a very fine melody line. While the song holds up quite well in being reinforced by a touch of rhythm guitar, I would much rather have heard a hard rock power ballad more in line with the guitar based music of Dragontown.
The above-average to good hard rocker "I Just Wanna Be God" sounds like an outtake from Brutal Planet. Advancing through its first verse to an upfront mix of rhythm guitar, the song arrives at a hard hitting chorus I might describe as run-of-the-mill at best.
"It's Much Too Late" starts its first verse to a prominent bass line until the rhythm guitar takes over as it picks up in pace for a weak pop flavored chorus. The song talks about a nice guy who lives a good life but ends up in hell anyway:
I never kicked a dog, a child or my wife
I never looked at pornography
I swear it on my holy saint mother's life
But somehow she's down here with me
The road to hell is littered with nice guys with good intentions
But once your there your there
It's much too late...
"The Sentinel" is a straightforward hard rocker that, similar to "I Just Wanna Be God", would not sound out of place on Brutal Planet. The song moves through its first verse in a heavy duty guitar driven fashion until the rhythm guitar plays a reduced role in the mix as it arrives at a non-descript chorus bordering on the pedestrian.
After Dragontown opens with its six best songs, the album goes downhill from there in that the rest of its material does not always hold up under repeated play. Am I out of line to suggest that Alice, only having released Brutal Planet the previous year, did not have the time to put together enough quality material before heading into the studio? Irregardless of the albums inconsistencies, I eagerly anticipate the third and final part to the Brutal Planet trilogy.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Triggerman" (3:58), "Deeper" (3:54), "Dragontown" (5:04), "Sex, Death And Money" (3:37), "Fantasy Man" (4:05), "Somewhere In The Jungle" (5:20), "Disgraceland" (3:32), "Sister Sara" (4:33), "Every Woman Has A Name" (3:43), "I Just Wanna Be God" (3:51), "It’s Much Too Late" (4:38), "The Sentinel" (3:53)
Alice Cooper – Lead Vocals
Ryan Roxie, Tim Pierce, Bob Marlette – Guitars
Greg Smith, Bob Marlette – Bass
Sid Riggs & Bob Marlette – Keyboards & Programming
Van Pelt, Doug. "Saint Alice The Man Behind The Mask." HM 94 (2002): 28-35.