Alice Cooper the band was no more, but Alice Cooper the frontman was still going strong, and Welcome To My Nightmare is probably the best of his "solo" albums. Although his bandmates had gone, and with them the sense of genuine filth that clung to the edges of classic albums like Billion Dollar Babies, Alice had kept custody of Bob Ezrin after the divorce, and Ezrin was able to get some session musicians together to wheel out some hard glam rock that at least superficially resembles the band's old sound, plus a few guest spots like Vincent Price offering a classic monologue on The Black Widow.
It's certainly a well-polished spectacle, and Cooper has been riffing on the general ideas developed here intermittently ever since - see not just the misguided idea of producing an actual sequel to the album, Welcome 2 My Nightmare, but also the Along Came a Spider album, which took the imagery of The Black Widow and essentially expanded it into a serial killer-themed concept album.
But as lyricalsly evocative and competently produced as the album is, there's something about it which leaves me a little cold every time. It just feels a little bit calculated - a little too slick, a little too polished, a little too absent of the rough edges and out-of-left-field departures the band brought to the table. The cover art here is particularly apt - this is Alice Cooper cleaned up and made ready for prime time, and thus the danger feels nullified, rendered safe and tame by the campy flair of it all. This is a matter of taste, of course, but it remains consistent no matter how often I give the album a fair chance.