ALICE COOPER – Dirty Diamonds

ALICE COOPER - Dirty Diamonds


Spitfire/New West Records
Release date: July 4, 2005 (Europe), August 2, 2005 (USA)
Run Time: 47 minutes – 13 tracks

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Now 57 years young, a logical question when contemplating the continued progression of Alice Cooper (Alice) is, “What keeps the man going?” In all reality, Alice has more irons in the fire today than he ever had in his “youth.” Hmmm … there’s a comprehensive world tour in progress, a syndicated radio show (Nights With Alice Cooper), Cooperstown restaurants, periodic T.V. commercials thrown in every now and then for good measure, and, of course, now another new album! Gets you a bit winded just thinking about how he manages that schedule (while melding in a daily round of golf!). Well, the answer to that initial question is Alice keeps moving forward because HE KNOWS HE CAN STILL KICK MUSICAL ASS, and is a born entertainer through and through. Often labeled as one of the most intelligent individuals (not to mention creative) in all of music, song ideas seem to just continue to pop into Alice’s head at a vigorous pace … his lyrics are still as cleverly twisted as ever, and after composing literally hundreds of songs during his storied career, Alice still seems to be very able to tap into the self-rejuvenated well of catchy riffs, lyrical patterns, and choruses with ease.

After a 2 album jaunt into the realm of Industrial Metal, in 2003 Alice returned more to his famed Raunch ‘N’ Roll style with The Eyes Of Alice Cooper (read the Metal Express review by clicking here), under the production influences of Mudrock (Godsmack). Weary of over-polished recording sessions and synthetically manicured perfection in the studio, Alice took the bare bones approach even a step further with the Dirty Diamonds release, this time under the co-production direction of Steve Lindsey & Rick Boston, by recording the entire album in less than 2 weeks! Proclaimed by Alice as one of his best albums from top to bottom to date, Dirty Diamonds is more of a Rock ‘N’ Roll album than it is a Metal album … or even a Hard Rock album. When you think about it, Alice’s roots, especially in the 70’s, had always been more Rock ‘N’ Roll than Hard Rock anyway, so settling back into his original comfort zone tends to actually make perfect sense.

This album shows an obvious attempt by Alice to formulate musical riffs and patterns that sound familiar, but are still spruced up and unique enough to fit into the current times. And, of course, the half-demented/psychotic-loner-wit present in the album’s lyrics is as cunning and crafty as ever. The album starts out with “Woman Of Mass Distraction,” that opens with a bass riff somewhere in-between Billy Idol’s version of “Mony Mony” (by Tommy James & The Shondells), and “Summertime Blues.” The direction is apparent … largely a “natural-sounding” garage band feel, with a bass guitar that is very easy to pick out, though slightly muffled along with the drums. The song features a Chuck Berry-ish guitar solo – something that’s revisited elsewhere in this album, and a touch of keyboards in the distance. The second track, “You Make Me Wanna,” basically follows the rules laid out above … if anything, a notable characteristic at this juncture of the album is that Alice’s “personality” hasn’t really “checked in” lyrically yet. Overall, these two opening tracks are just good, solid, old school Rock ‘N’ Roll songs.

Track 3, “Perfect,” features a rough, cutting edge guitar riff intro that would have pleased The Rolling Stones or The Faces. Even better, this song is where Alice first brings in Alice humor – at times twisted and brash, but still honest and … and human.

“Dirty Diamonds,” the title track, has a wonderfully eerie beginning, similar to “This House Is Haunted” from 2003’s release, then cuts into a bass-driven “cops and robbers,” West Side Story/James Bond up-tempo song that will get you either playing “air drums” or “air bass,” or both. A few horns are introduced during the solo section to produce some immediate visuals of a gangster chase … you get the feel Alice could definitely use this interlude in a concert setting to choreograph a mini-skit of some sort.

“Pretty Ballerina” is pure Alice with its off-kilter, acoustic guitar opening. This gem of a song is certainly Alice back in Cooperland. There’s unsettling, self-contained dementia displayed by the main character of the story in a slightly horrific dreamland … one step away from bent psychosis, but oddly still functional. Ironically, this song, so perfectly fitting into the shtick of Alice, was actually written 4 decades ago by a band called The Left Banke! Listening to this song kind of makes you want to go out and check out what this 60’s band was all about!

Alice includes a Credence Clearwater Revival-ish opening riff for “Sunset Babies (All Got Rabies).” The song shifts to more of a comical/fun demeanor as the protagonist carries on in endless pursuit of these California hotties. Another winner!

Next up, “Zombie Dance,” paints a somber, deliberate atmosphere … kind of a secluded gangster room (the harmonica and bongos add to this ambiance) with an untouched smoking cigarette burning in the ashtray. If anything, this gangster/outlaw motif seems to be the prevailing underlying theme chosen by Alice with this release.

“The Saga Of Jesse Jane” follows, a song that comically deals with a cross-dressed truck driver who makes the mistake of showing himself in a redneck Texas town. Cracking under ridicule, Jesse ends up murdering his adversaries and finds himself locked up in the pokey, apparently to his confusion … all of this is sung/played in a quasi-Old Country & Western (Johnny Cash) style, and it’s pure Alice brilliance!

Staying with a down-tempo style, “Six Hours” features a weeping guitar, which sets the mood for this half-heartfelt Alice love song, and at about the 2:30 mark, the song transitions into a great instrumental replica of what can be heard in any one of Alice’s early 70’s releases – plenty of bass, rough guitars, and just enough disorganization.

“Steal That Car” ups the tempo with another “cops and robbers” setting that will have you singing along with the chorus on the first play. This fun number is a lighthearted song about a kleptomaniac car thief who comically just can’t quit falling for the 4-wheeled beauties, and includes another Chuck Berry-ish guitar solo, and like “Dirty Diamonds,” closes out with a Broadway production style ending that would also be well-suited to a live Alice show.

“Run Down The Devil,” possibly the best song on the album, starts out a bit dark and mysterious, then lightens up to describe the scenario of Alice running over The Devil with his car. Like “Steal That Car,” this track has a superb chorus … and is the heaviest song in the mix.

Winding up Dirty Diamonds is “Your Own Worst Enemy,” which musically ends the album in similar fashion to how it started out … a fairly simple song musically, supported by a catchy, bass-toned chord pattern. Lyrically, the song contains the comical social message that the trite and trivial shouldn’t get in the way of your focus on what’s important. If anything, this song could be deemed the follow up to “Man Of The Year” from The Eyes Of Alice Cooper.

Now, depending on what country you live in, this album will contain either the bonus track “Stand” or “The Sharpest Pain.” “Stand” is pure social message – it’s a light Hip Hop meets Hard Rock duet sung with rapper Xzibit. The message, as displayed directly via the chorus, is: “If you don’t stand for something / You will fall for anything.” Alice has experimented and reinvented himself on numerous occasions, but it’s safe to say this is his first plunge towards reaching out to Urban America! The other bonus track, “The Sharpest Pain,” follows moreso the style of this album, and easily fits in as one of the best tracks of the effort as a whole … so unless you have an affinity towards Rap, be sure to get your grubby little paws on a copy of Dirty Diamonds with this track included as the bonus!

Overall, Alice again has succeeded in his quest to put the basic edge and “fun” back into his music. The sound of this album is by no means a complete retro-fit to his 70’s sound, but there are quite a few tendencies leaning towards that direction, and the spirit and musical attitude of that era is definitely present. All of the tracks are solid musically and have good story lines, regardless of whether Alice is playing it straight, throwing in a few comical anecdotes, or assuming the reclusive, semi-delusional Stephen-mode that many have grown to appreciate and love. Yep, Alice has done it again … as only Alice knows how … and the result is indeed one of his best albums to date. Be sure to check it out!

Band Members

Ryan Roxie – guitars
Damon Johnson (from Brother Cane) – guitars
Tommy Clufetos – drums
Chuck Garric – bass


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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