Alice Cooper, "Paranormal" (earMUSIC)
It's the middle of summer, but school is back in session as Alice Cooper teaches us how it's done.
In fact, the shock-rock godfather literally goes old school on this two-disc set, reuniting most of the original Alice Cooper Band from the '70s on two tracks. Guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith join Cooper on "Genuine American Girl," a satiric look at gender identity from one of rock's original gender-benders, and "You and All of Your Friends," an apocalyptic revenge song against those who despoiled the planet and "painted Heaven black."
Cooper is just as lethal with his current band. "Dynamite Road" is his own "Detroit Rock City," about a fatal car crash that kills his entire band, but leaves Cooper alive to complain that God allowed his beloved Cadillac to be totaled. No surprise here, since the album is produced by longtime collaborator Bob Ezrin, who also did Kiss' signature album "Destroyer."
"Rats" is a jaded look at how politicians, entertainers and big businesses view the public. It could have been a classic Chuck Berry anthem but for the lyrical content, urging us to "give the rats what they want."
The disc also includes six live tracks. Guest musicians include ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. and Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover.