The origins of Alice Cooper are rooted in Phoenix, AZ, but, being a Detroit native, the man is paying respects to his home city with the Breadcrumbs EP. Both the city and Cooper embed specific emotions and visceral feelings within many people and global institutions, and they are both unquestionably substantial forces within particular pockets of American culture. While it’s hard to compare a man and a city, they both share equal merits to their legacies. Both are innovative, relevant, and much respected around the world. It’s true; they’re practically larger than life and craftsmen still.
Not straying from what catapulted him into an icon, Cooper’s fifty-year reign (yes, half a theoretical lifetime here) is still intact with sell-out shows across the world using a vaudeville performance that relies on imaginative craftsmanship and analog delivery. It’s a traveling circus, but one worth scoping if you’ve yet to catch him live. And Detroit? Well, the city is a story in itself, one whose innovation stretches many cultural facets commercially and within the music scene. How many Motor City native artists in r&b, rock, hip-hop, and soul carry the word Detroit in their song lyrics? It’s almost countless, and this release adds to that number.
Way back in 1971, here’s Cooper’s “Caught in a Dream” from Love It to Death.
The EP is appropriately titled and intelligently arranged to feature Detroit musicians with era-specific history and landmark events in their own right. Commenting back in March on his release plans, Cooper says the plan of action for Breadcrumbs is to find that “particular Detroit sound.” As subjective a phrase as that is, he enlists Wayne Kramer, Mark Farner, Mick Collins, Johnny “Bee” Badanjek, and Paul Randolph to lay the foundation for the rock end, which is his world after all. Another note to include is that Breadcrumbs marks the fifteenth collaboration between Cooper and producer Bob Ezrin. Their relationship, which began in 1971 with Love It to Death and will persevere into 2020 with Cooper’s twenty-first album, is one of the longest functioning partnerships in music.
The EP’s Side-A consists of newer tracks to whet appetites until album twenty-one’s release, while Side-B features cover songs rooted in Detroit grandeur from the writers themselves. A notable fan of the Detroit sports scene, Cooper’s barking in support of the Detroit sports and musical heritage in the lead-off “Detroit City 2020” is clear cut as he hypes the town’s folklore by name-dropping influential groups and labels (MC5 and Motown). However, his lyric of “Tiger blues being in the past” seems slightly misplaced given their poor 2019 record to date. “Go Man Go” is the choice cut on this EP and boasts a classic Alice Cooper heavy rock feel meets Ramones-ish punk with mid-tempo driving hooks throughout the track’s brief run time.
Side-B is where things get interesting as the three songs are all deeply rooted in the garage rock and hard rock history that Detroit carries. In 1971, MC5 and Alice Cooper released their third and final releases for their respective labels, Atlantic and Straight, with High Time and Love It to Death respectively. Here in 2019, Wayne Kramer and Cooper pair up for a cutting rendition of the MC5 staple track, “Sister Anne.” Trading in his snarl for a cleaner vocal delivery, Cooper makes this version his own with higher production standards more readily available in 2019 than back in 1971.
Here’s Suzy Quatro’s original version of “Your Mama Won’t Like Me,” and she was right.
Cooper also pays homage to Suzi Quatro’s 1975 song “Your Mama Won’t Like Me” with a large-scale production of the classic tune. In their careers, Cooper and Quatro changed the landscape of what was taboo and accepted on a social level (i.e. Cooper’s violent theatrics and Quatro’s dominating lead woman status in the rock world), so it’s awesome to see their synergetic artistic relationship on full display.
In the other Side-B offering, Cooper teams up with ex-Detroit Wheels drummer Johnny Badanjek for a slow and soulful rendition of Mitch Ryder’s “Devil with a Blue Dress on.” Which then segues into a collaboration with a contemporary figure in Detroit’s garage rock culture - Mick Collins (The Gories, The Dirtbombs, Wolfmanhattan Project) - providing back up harmonies on “Chains of Love,” an original track done by Don Davis/JJ Barnes/Melvin Davis but introduced to newer generations as a Dirtbombs cut for Ultraglide in Black released in 2001.
This is quite the thrilling little EP and demonstrates Cooper’s ability to still, this far into his illustrious career, produce quality music. Be sure to also check out our recent Pretties for You Retro Album Review.
Breadcrumbs Track Listing:
01. Detroit City 2020
02. Go Man Go
03. East Side Story
04. Your Mama Won’t Like Me
05. Devil with a Blue Dress on/Chains of Love
06. Sister Anne
Run Time: 19:35 Release Date: September 13, 2019 Record Label: earMUSIC