"Halo of Ice" (Pilot; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

As Snidermann mentions in his review below, in the early days of Alice Cooper, Alice Cooper was a band as much as anything else. Although I can't blame Alice Cooper (the man) for leaving the band and striking out on his own (his hugely successful career thereafter speaks for itself), it's unfortunate that the remaining bandmembers slowly faded into rock'n'roll history. 

That's what makes "Halo of Ice" such an interesting find. Recorded live in Iceland in May 2001, "Halo of Ice" finds Alice Cooper band guitarist Michael Bruce nearly thirty years after the recording of some of the band's biggest hits, re-exploring such Alice Cooper classics as "Under My Wheels," "Is It My Body," "Desperado," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "I'm Eighteen," "Billion Dollar Babies" and more.

The result is a startlingly engaging live record with guitar work that will leave you marveling at Bruce's mastery and control. Bruce's fretwork is nearly identical to the original recordings, shockingly tight and never overburdened with unnecessary effects. It's the stark rock'n'roll sound that the Alice Cooper band made famous and it still works here. The production is impressive as hell, featuring crisp sound and stereo separation that's amazing. 

All isn't perfect, of course. The songs contained herein were made to be sung by the one and only Alice Cooper and, although Bruce gives it a good shot, it's just not the same. (Liner notes explain that Bruce had a bad cold that evening but it's not just that). Background vocals, while minimal, are especially annoying, although background musicianship is strong.

Regardless, "Halo of Ice" is a rare glimpse into a once famous artist re-visiting the work that gave him that deservedly gave him that fame. It's a fascinating, entertaining listening experience and recommended to anyone who's ever enjoyed Alice Cooper's earlier works.

"In My Own Way: The Complete Sessions" (Pilot; 1975 / 2002)

Reviewed by Snidermann

When you think of the old Alice Cooper band of the early 70s, you conjure images of Alice cutting his head off, hanging himself and basically doing just about anything for the "show." Actually, Alice is still doing that today, but back then he was just a member of a band called Alice Cooper with Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith, Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce. 

I was a huge fan of the Alice Cooper band and remain a huge fan today. So, when I was asked by editor R. Scott Bolton to review some work by Michael Bruce (former guitarist of the Alice Cooper band), my immediate answer was "yes!"  

"In My Own Way" was originally released in 1975 and re-released in 2002 with a bonus CD. "In My Own Way" is vibrant rock'n'roll. Each track is fun to listen to and full of life and, even though it is not heavy metal, it is solid rock and very enjoyable throughout. "In My Own Way" features a track called "As Rock Rolls On" with Alice Cooper on vocals. Even though it's thirty years old this year, "In My Own Way" still sounds alive and dynamic and powerful.

The bonus CD is entitled "The Lake Tahoe Sunburst Sessions" and was originally recorded in 1974. "Lake Tahoe" couldn't be farther apart from "In My Own Way." 

"The Lake Tahoe Sunburst Sessions" is slow, gloomy easy listening rock that never really gets going. There's a reason it's released as a bonus disc and not individually because it's dull and lifeless, especially when compared to "In My Own Way." Still, Alice Cooper band completists may want to have it in their collection and so here it is.

Summing up, "In My Own Way" earns a full three guitarsaw rating on its own while "The Lake Tahoe Sunburst Sessions" may be interesting to hardcore fans but isn't worth picking up separately.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 25 Feb 2019 21:42:45 -0500.