Sunday, May 15, 2016

Covering the (rock n roll) basics

The other day, I received a copy of the self titled debut album of Hollywood Vampires (by The Hollywood Vampires). It's one of those "coveted" "Super Groups", from the likes of Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry.

According to the official Facebook page, they consider themselves a less drunken rambunctious bunch that attempts to bring back the nostalgic zeitgeist of the partying 1970's. The lore states: "In 1972, on the Sunset Strip at a club called the Rainbow Bar & Grill, the Hollywood Vampires were born in the upstairs bar. It was a gathering place for the rock stars living in or passing through L.A. “To join the club, one simply had to out drink all of the members,” says Alice Cooper, a founding member of the Vampires. “I would walk in on a typical night” Alice says, “and John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon—who would usually be in a costume like a maid or a chauffeur—Bernie Taupin, Jim Morrison and Mickey Dolenz would be there. The next week might be Bernie Taupin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Mickey Dolenz.”

Three years ago, Alice and good friend Johnny Depp got together and decided the spirit of the Hollywood Vampires should live again (minus the drinking). An environment for great artists to hang, laugh and play together. The Hollywood Vampires live again with the release of the Hollywood Vampires new album. Alice and Johnny were joined by Joe Perry, who is an old friend of both of them, and the recording began: a tribute to the original Hollywood Vampires.". Thus, a plethora of artists have joined the trio (Macca, Dave Grohl, Slash.. to name a few), and dropped the 2015 cover album.

Of all the songs on all of the records, I have to admit, it was a job well done. Rather, a job well attempted. However, I feel they really can't go any further than this album as they have set themselves up to be a complete cover band. It seems like a lot of people are trying to recapture some heavy rock n roll these days. The Vampires have found, turned over, and replayed quite the similar tunes the kids have found themselves replaying. Yes,  Alice Cooper singing one of his own songs (School's Out), but one out of 14 (or 17 from the Deluxe album) surely doesn't make a full set, in my opinion. Their version of The Who's "My Generation" is on par with the original, but the album is another excuse for Cooper and Perry to put something out. This is their version of all the "songbook" albums that have appeared recently from aging artists. At least the two have gotten together to make a single record instead of making two separate CDs.

From the look of their website, they're doing a smallish tour circuit. It's not the stadium and amphitheaters that people are accustomed to see the players in, as this sounds like the typical promotional kick off concert before something else comes and better suits their fancy. Again, I get the feeling that this is it for them; it's a "I'm bored. Let's do something" album. When I first heard the tracks, I couldn't help but think that it's a garage band that should have stayed in the garage. Yes, other bands have made it out to the curb and did their thing, becoming big names, but these guys are already big names. Hell, Johnny Depp is notorious for getting on stage with a group, because he happens to be in the area and has nothing to do (allegedly). What's stopping the theory from becoming fact with the rest of the "band mates"?

All I can say, is when the Wilburys got together, it was more on a lark. They wrote all original music for their albums (sans one or two tracks). And it was cohesively fun. I hate to say it, but I love the Wilburys (even as solo artists) more than I can try to like the Vampires. I like Alice Cooper by himself. I like Johnny Depp by himself (as an actor). I like Joe Perry by himself (but Earl Slick is a better guitarist, IMO. No, that's not a biased statement, so don't think about it).Together, these three really don't suit my fancy to want to root for more sounds.

I guess, all in all, I can try to listen longer to the album and make a better judgement call on it. Although it's a year and change after the original release, it'll probably take me longer to get accustomed to it.