Alice Cooper – Welcome to My Nightmare

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  • Alice Cooper’s debut solo album finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • This one is killer – it’s lively and rich, with plenty of deep punchy bass, a nicely extended top and a huge three-dimensional soundfield
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… a concept album tied into the story line of the highly theatrical concert tour he launched soon after the album’s release… there’s plenty of fist-pumping rock to go around.”

CONDITION NOTES:

  • On side one, a mark makes about 20 light to moderate pops at the end of track 5, Only Women Bleed.

Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl. The best sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl not withstanding. If you can tolerate the problems on this pressing you are in for some outstanding Alice Cooper music and sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


This vintage Atlantic pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Welcome To My Nightmare have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1975
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Size

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.

What to Listen For on Welcome To My Nightmare

Less grit – smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on School’s Out.

A bigger presentation – more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record the better.

More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a pure rock record. It needs weight down low to rock the way Cooper wanted it to.

Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.

Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.

Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven’t played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find.

Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Welcome to My Nightmare
Devil’s Food
The Black Widow
Some Folks
Only Women Bleed

Side Two

Department of Youth
Cold Ethyl
Years Ago
Steven
The Awakening
Escape

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

With the 1974 disintegration of the original Alice Cooper group, Alice was free to launch a solo career. He wisely decided to re-enlist the services of Bob Ezrin for his solo debut, Welcome to My Nightmare, which was a concept album tied into the story line of the highly theatrical concert tour he launched soon after the album’s release.

While the music lost most of the gritty edge of the original AC lineup, Welcome to My Nightmare remains Alice’s best solo effort — while some tracks stray from his expected hard rock direction, there’s plenty of fist-pumping rock to go around. The disco-flavored, album-opening title track would be reworked on the stage as more of a hard rock tune, while “Some Folks” dips into cabaret territory, and “Only Women Bleed” is a sensitive ballad that became a Top Ten hit. But the rockers serve as the album’s foundation — “Devil’s Food,” “The Black Widow,” “Department of Youth,” and “Cold Ethyl” are all standouts, as is the more tranquil yet eerie epic “Steven.”

Despite this promising start to Cooper’s solo career, the majority of his subsequent releases were often not as focused and were of varying quality.

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