Review: Star-studded “Hollywood Vampires” album worth a listen for rock fans


hollywoodvampiresHollywood Vampires is an awesome idea. Created in the spirit of the 1970s drinking club that featured Alice Cooper, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Bernie Taupin, Harry Nilsson, and Micky Dolenz, Hollywood Vampires is a supergroup featuring Cooper, actor/guitarist Johnny Depp, and Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and focuses on covering songs originally featuring rock legends who died too early. Proceeds from the band are going to MusiCares, an organization dedicated to helping musicians in time of financial, medical, or personal need.

That idea has resulted in a fun self-titled album that is jam-packed with superstar cameos, including Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Brian Johnson of AC/DC, Perry Farrell, Slash, Robby Krieger of the Doors, and Dave Grohl. While it may not quite be an auto-include to any rock collection, Hollywood Vampires is certainly worth at least a listen and results in a good time, if nothing else.

It’s easy to tell that the musicians involved are having a good time themselves with this project. The album starts off with a true gem of a skit as late actor Christopher Lee provides voice over for the introductory track “The Last Vampire,” which serves as the last appearance Lee made on a music album before passing away earlier this year. From there, 11 of the 13 songs on the album are covers, with a few of them rocking pretty hard.

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Chief among those covers is the Hollywood Vampires take on The Doors’ “Five To One” and “Break On Through.” The songs are combined into one track, and while “Five To One” turns out fine, it’s on “Break On Through” where Cooper and the band really rips it and would make the late Jim Morrison proud.

Another highlight is the cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” The song starts out with a bluesy take on the Zeppelin classic, but it doesn’t take long for the song to explode into a hard-rocking, spirited cover, featuring Brian Johnson on vocals.

Cooper’s duet with McCartney on the cover of Badfinger’s “Come and Get It” is a cool moment, as is Brian Johnson joining in for a medley of Cooper’s “School’s Out” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2.”

There are two songs that are originals, co-written by Cooper and Depp, among others. Those songs, “Raise the Dead” and “My Dead Drunk Friends,” are good enough to make one wonder how an entire album of new content from this band might have turned out. “My Dead Drunk Friends” contains a verse that sums up the spirit of the album:

I’m raising my glass and tossing it back but I can’t remember why
So let’s have another for all of my brothers who drank until they died

Joined live by former Guns n’ Roses members Duff McKagan on bass and Matt Sorum on drums along with cameos from Tom Morello, Marilyn Manson, Geezer Butler, and, yes, pop star Ke$ha, the band performed two gigs at The Roxy Theater in West Hollywood last week and will perform another at Rock City in Rio on September 24. Hopefully those won’t be the only show dates for this band. The album is an above average collection of covers that has a great rock n’ roll spirit, but one can’t help but get the feeling that the album is only half as fun as the band would be live.

Regardless, Hollywood Vampires is worthy of any rock fan’s attention. While not every cover will make you want to forget the real thing, there are definitely a few gems here, and the musicianship is good while Cooper steals the show on vocals. Hollywood Vampires is something that was worth raising from the dead, so give it a listen and have a good time.

Release Date: September 11, 2015

(Captain Quirk Personal Interpretation of the Rocknuts review scale:

5 nuts — All-time classic; perfect or near-perfect album full of high level songs that may be heavily influential and/or change music. It’s generally a score that is achieved over time and is rarely if ever handed out right away.
4.5 nuts — Upper-echelon album of rare quality. One that may be in the discussion for best albums of the decade and that you’ll come back to for years to come.
4 nuts — Strong album that will be under consideration for my album of the year pick. I’ll most likely buy a copy for my collection.
3.5 nuts — Good to very good album that I may or may not buy a copy of but generally has a satisfying quality of material from start to finish with an occasional hiccup here or there. By design I try to review albums that have gotten a positive reception, which results in more albums than not seeming to fall into this range.
3 nuts — Above average, with a song or two I may come back to again and again in the future, but most likely I’m not going to buy a copy.
2.5 nuts — Middle of the road album. Nothing really above or below average here. Might be worth a listen but is generally forgettable.
2 nuts — It may have a few moments, but something went wrong here overall. This album isn’t a lost cause but has noticeable issues.
1.5 nuts to .5 nuts — A bad album that you won’t want to listen to. If there’s a good song or two on here, it’ll be surrounded by stuff that didn’t work. Few albums go this far wrong.
Zero nuts — As is the case with 5 nuts, this is a score that will very rarely be awarded. It represents an all-time stinker of an album that fails across the board and is genuinely difficult to listen to. Everything on it sucks from top to bottom, with nothing to salvage it. Fortunately, very, very few albums plummet this depth.)

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