SickthingsUK: Dragontown

Following up 'Brutal Planet' was some task, and fans seem to be split as to whether 'Dragontown' was a move forward or a album of leftovers. Personally I think it could be the better of the two 'heavy' albums as it's more diverse and has at least one bonefide classic in 'Sister Sarah', a sequel to 'Nurse Rozetta' ("Sister Sarah IS Nurse Rozetta" Alice told me) from 1978. Elsewhere it includes the Trash-y 'Fantasy Man' and the ultra-doom of 'Deeper' with only a couple of tracks failing to make the grade. Definitly an underrated release.


September 18th 2001

Track listing

  1. Triggerman (Cooper, Marlette)(4:39)
  2. Deeper (Cooper, Marlette)(3:50)
  3. Dragontown (Cooper, Marlette)(4:00)
  4. Sex, Death And Money (Cooper, Marlette)(3:18)
  5. Fantasy Man (Cooper, Marlette)(4:35)
  6. Somwhere In The Jungle (Cooper, Marlette)(5:15)
  7. Disgraceland (Cooper, Marlette)(4:56)
  8. Sister Sara (Cooper, Marlette)(4:46)
  9. Every Woman Has A Name (Cooper, Marlette)(4:11)
  10. I Just Wanna Be God (Cooper, Marlette)(4:12)
  11. It's Much Too Late (Cooper, Marlette)(4:18)
  12. The Sentinel (Cooper, Marlette) - Japan only (4:09)

A UK Tour Edition (with blue tint slipcase) adds 'Can't Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me' (the 'Brutal Planet' Japanese bonus track) and the video for 'Gimme'.

A US Tour Edition (with white slip case) is a double CD set. The second CD features:

  1. Can't Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me (Cooper, Marlette, Blake, Wilson) (4:09)
  2. Go to Hell (from 'Brutally Live')(Cooper, Wagner, Ezrin) (3.48)
  3. Ballad of Dwight Fry (from 'Brutally Live') (Bruce, Cooper) (4.27)
  4. Brutal Planet (Remix) (Cooper, Marlette) (4.28)
  5. Gimme [CD-Rom Track] [Enhanced Video])
  6. It's the Little Things [CD-Rom Track] [Enhanced Video])

Musicians

  • Alice Cooper - Vocals
  • Ryan Roxie - Guitars, Backing Vocals
  • Tim Pierce - Guitars
  • Wayne Swinng - Guitars
  • Bob Marlette - Guitar, Bass, Keyboards
  • Greg Smith - Bass
  • Kenny Aaronoff - Drums
  • Sid Riggs - Keyboards, Programming
  • Giovanna Moraga - Vocals on 'Sister Sara'
  • Teddy ZigZag Andreadis - Backup vocals
  • Eric Dover - Backing Vocals
  • Calico Cooper - Backing Vocals

Sleeve Notes

Produced, Engineered and Arranged by Bob Marlette
Executive Producer: Bob Ezrin
Strings arrangement: Bob Marlette
Assistant Engineers: German Villacourta
Recorded at The Blue Room, Woodland Hills, CA and Henson Studios, Los Angles, CA
Mixed at Henson Studios, Los Angeles, CA
Mastering: Dave Collins for Marcussen Mastering, Hollywood, CA
Art Direction and Design: 142design
Photography: Neil Zlozower
Background Graffitti: Brad Canby

Album Notes - (Detailed release information)


Alice Cooper from the inside of the 'Dragontown' booklet.

After touring 'Brutal Planet' for just over a year Alice wasted little time returning to the studio for the new album. Dragontown is basically 'Brutal Planet Part 2' (not part 3 as stated in Spitfire Records publicity and still repeated on the internet). Alice confirmed this fact in an Interview with Total Rock at the time of the release and several times since. Dragontown is described as "the worst town on Brutal Planet" and the songs feature various characters you could find there. As with the previous album many of the songs could be related to the current world. Of course 'Drgaontown' could also been seen as a metaphor for Hell, especially with Alice's now well publicised religious beliefs.

" I think that 'Brutal Planet' and 'Dragontown' are definitely connected at the hip. They have the same producer, same writer, just basically saying that we didn't really cover it all in part one. There were at least twelve songs that I wanted to use to continue to get the point across. I wanted to make it heavier and I wanted to make it more diverse - not just like 'Brutal Planet', but like the worst part of 'Brutal Planet'. I wanted to take it deeper into this place. I think that thirty years from now, you'll listen to these two albums together.
I created a place with 'Dragontown' that is kind of a parallel Hell and in some cases I did the unthinkable; I took some of rock's greatest heroes, who are supposed to be in Heaven, and sent them directly to Hell. I sent Elvis to Hell and I sent John Lennon there. 'It's Much To Late' is a total tribute to John Lennon. I did all the Beatles background for that; I even gave it that little nasal John Lennon sound on the vocal. And on 'Dragontown' I tried to do that with Jim Morrison; we sent Jim Morrison to Hell. I just thought that if there is a rock 'n' roll Heaven, then I don't think these guys are there. I think that their lifestyles probably put them in a much darker place."

At the time Alice told 'Get Rhythm' magazine about his relationship with Spitfire Records:

"Oh it's a hundred times better, you never get lost in the shuffle. When I was with Warner Brothers I was in a stable with over a hundred more acts -great acts- so if you did not have a number 1 album you were not getting number 1 preference, while with a smaller label you are the focus for them all the time.
Let me tell you how things also changed - back in the days of 'School's Out' and 'Billion Dollar Babies' even the president of the label, the vice president and the head of A&R would be down in the studios at 3am interested and enthusing about the record, really listening to the music and I really appreciated that. But after a while these record companies became so big, I could see it coming, that they just didn't care anymore, all they cared about was getting the product out, sell it and get the money. That's when I decided I had to go with a smaller company.
You never know who you are really working for with a major label now, so many labels are owned by companies with nothing to do with music. They are only interested in the product and whether it will sell, it could be Coca Cola, McDonalds, everything is so corporate. All they and the radio stations, who they influence and control via advertising, are after is the next thing. They cannot sit around and understand and nurture new talent and what they already have. They are always worried somebody else is going to get the upper hand on them, so a band doesn't really get a chance, one strike and you're out. I'll tell you something really interesting. There is a name artist I know, but I'll not name, that sold five million of his last album and the record company told him that if he does not sell at least five million with his next he is out, and that's insane!"

'Dragontown' continued in more or less the same vein as 'Brutal Planet' with Bob Marlette again at the controls. Although stylistically very similar in style the album did come across as a more diverse collection of songs. 'Fantasy Man' had a little of the 'Trash' swagger, and 'It's Not Too Late' had a more 70s vibe then anythng on the earlier album. In some places it was possibly even heavier, with the slow grind of 'Deeper', but as before Alice's voice pulled everything together. Sadly as with 'Brutal Planet' the album didn't exactly set the charts alight. It barely touched the US Billboard charts at #197, and even in the UK it stalled at #87, 51 places below it's predecessor. The terribly cheap looking cover probably didn't help. Was that really the best they could come up with?

Although promotional CDs of both 'Triggerman' and 'It's Much Too Late' were sent to radio stations no commercial single was released from 'Dragontown'. Chances are even it there had been a single it wouldn't have gone anywhere.

Alice spoke t 'Get Rhythm about sevral songs on the album:

"[The Triggerman] is a bit like the cigarette smoking man in The X-Files, the cancer man. He is the power behind the throne, he is the guy that pushes all the buttons that nobody ever knows about, no DNA, no identity. He's the guy that makes things happen but in my story he finally meets his match and ends up in 'Dragontown'.
[Disgraceland:] I'm a big Elvis fan and I got to know him and consider him a friend of mine. He invited me over one night and we talked for a real long time. That would be back in about '72 when he looked real good, he was like the Elvis we all like to remember. When I saw how he ended up, saw that he was bloated and stoned and wasn't really the Elvis I knew. So when he died I don't think he died in a state of grace, he died in a state of disgrace, so I used the play on words between Graceland and 'Disgraceland' and it all kind of fitted in and I think he would see the sense of humour in this
'Sister Sara' is a bit like Nurse Rozetta from '78's 'From The Inside'. She took her vows and totally blows it, she just could not live up to what she was supposed to be and she became the total opposite, but still frail and very mortal. She gets introduced to 'The Triggerman' and the 'Fantasy Man' and also 'The Sentinel' who is one of these guys that fancies himself as judge, jury and executioner, and soon realises she is in good company."

'Dragontown' Live

The 'Dragontown' show was basically a re-working on the previous 'Brutal Planet' show. The stage setting got a coat of paint, and various props were moved around, but there wasn't enough time, or a need, to create a completely new show for what was basically an extention of the original 'Brutal Planet' idea. However there were enough differences to avoid it being a complete retread of the previous tour. The 'Descent Into Dragontown' world tour began in September 2001 and ran through to December 2002 but can be split into two legs by year due to the slight changes in setlist and band personal.
The first leg in North America covered September to November 2001 while the second leg began in America in September 2002 and concluded in Europe in December. Eric Dover, Eric Singer and Teddy Zigzag played all the shows, with Ryan Roxie and Greg Smith completing the 2001 band ,and Pete Friesen and Chuck Wright taking their places in 2002.
The set list changed between the two legs as well. 'Teenage Frankenstein' in 2001 was replaced by the similarly themed 'Feed My Frankenstein, 'Triggerman' was replaced by 'Wicked Young Man', 'Be My Lover' was switched with 'Trash', and 'Every Woman Has A Name' was replaced by 'I Never Cry' before that was eventually dropped when Alice started having voice issues in the UK. There were a few changes during the encore as well. Jimmy Hendrix's 'Fire' was performed on the 2001 dates with but was dropped in 2002, replaced by a surprising cover of Guns'n'Roses' 'Welcome To The Jungle'! At the first two shows the band started the introduction to 'Elected' before quickly switching into 'Welcome To The Jungle' and playing just over 2 minutes of the song before swtching again into 'Department Of Youth'. After the first two shows this changed slightly and they played the first verse of 'Elected' before a shortened '...Jungle' for the next two shows, after which the idea was dropped, replaced by a fulllength 'Elected' and 'Cold Ethyl'.

a few other sngs made very brief appearances: 'Raped and Freezin'' and 'Escape' were played at the start of the 2001 tour but both were dropped after a couple of weeks, replaced by 'Teenage Frankenstein' and Triggerman'. 'He's Back' made it's usual appearance in Sweden only.

The show started with an intro tape (from the film 'Godzilla Vs Mothra'. On the soundtrack album it's track 27, 'Baby Mothra Vs Godzilla') followed by the intro to 'Hey Stoopid'. When the band appear the open with 'Sex Death and Money'. The band stop suddenly and Alice bursts through a curtain hung between the drum and keyboard risers. 'Sex, Death and Money' segues into 'Brutal Planet' and on into 'Dragontown' itself. Unfortunately the songs aren`t played in their entirety. Alice is wearing a similar costume (the wine red Trenchcoat) to last year but with Dragon motifs added and he's holding a vicious looking oriental spear.

'Go To Hell' features Calico Cooper as a Geisha in a silk robe with oriental fans, before she strips off to reveal the familiar bondage gear. 'Eighteen' again features the Crutch, 'Billion Dollar Babies' does NOT feature the money sword this time out.

'Teenage Frankenstein' appeared during the first leg of the tour, the first time anything other than 'He's Back' had made the setlist for since 1990, but it was replaced by 'Feed My Frankenstein' later in the tour. Alice picks up body parts and places them in the Frankenstein Machine as before. 'Triggerman' features Alice in Black Trenchcoat and sunglasses stalking the stage as a secret agent.

Calico appears as `Nurse Rozetta` with the wheelchair from the Carnival show (which has been refurbished a bit). Alice appears in a green hospital gown an d gets wheeled around a bit into 'Dead Babies'. A baby carriage is pushed on stage and Alice acts as if it's truly horrible and doesn't really want to touch it. Finally he raises the baby up for all to see. It's a two headed (one human, one wolf) mutant which proceeds to bite his finger so he throws it to the ground and spears it with the Samurai sword he stuck in the stage during 'Brutal Planet', holding it up on the sword for everyone to see. Henchmen appear and it`s off to the Guillotine to lose his head again!

After the instrumental break and drum solo 'Ballad Of Dwight Fry' begins with the nurse carrying out Alice's severed head to places it in the Frankenstein Machine. She pulls a switch and the machine fills with smoke (when it works!). Alice bursts out in top hat and tails and into 'No More Mr Nice Guy'.

'Every Woman Has A Name' (or 'I Never Cry' on the second leg) and 'Only Women Bleed' are segued together as Alice sings to the women at the front while sitting on an upturned trash can with Ryan playing an acoustic guitar. Over an introduction to 'Under My Wheels' Alice introduces the band. During shows around October 2001 the introductions were based around a Halloween story with each band member playing a snippet of Halloween themed music (The Munsters theme, the 'Halloween' movie theme) while Alice recited "I heard scratching at my window, scratching... scratching.. and it was Eric Dover!" and similar things for each band member. It carried on until "It's not over... You're all alone.. and you know that thing that lives under your bed... and you know that thing that lives in your closet... That was me!!" Cue 'Under My Wheels'. The whole thing was very funny and well worth searching out. 'School's Out' closed the main set with all the normal Balloons and Confetti.

After 'Elected', which includes the flag and president again, they play a few bars of 'God Bless America' in honor of the people who suffered after the World Trade Center Attack on September 11th. Elected' shifts into Hendrix's 'Fire' which switches into 'Department Of Youth', a real highlight now. Alice is wearing his 'Brittany Wants Me... Dead' T-shirt and when the song get's to the `Donny Osmond` section the band shout "Britney Spears!" A tape of 'Hit Baby One More Time'(A Spears hit) plays and Calico appears on the high platform, dressed as Britney with a headphone mike pretending to sing along to the tape. She moves down the stairs with her personal security guard towards centre stage. When she arrives at the chorus. "Hit Me Baby One More Time" the tape stops, and Alice looks at the audience, shrugs, and lands her one square in the face! A fight ensues and Calico manages at least one hit right to Alice`s groin. She`s then dragged off stage right with Alice following. A few seconds later he reappears on the platform with Britney's severed head, which he proceeds to spike onto the top of one of the Dragontown poles by the platform.

Photos courtesy of Brian Harrington and SickthingsUK!

The Performers

  • Alice Cooper - Vocals
  • Ryan Roxie - Guitar, Backing Vocals (first leg)
  • Pete Friesen - Guitar, Backing Vocals (secomd leg)
  • Eric Dover - Guitar, Backing Vocals
  • Greg Smith - Bass, Backing Vocals (first leg)
  • Chuck Wright - Bass, Backing Vocals (second leg)
  • Eric Singer - Drums
  • Teddy 'Zigzag' Andreadis - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
  • Pat Nowak - The Executioner
  • Calico Cooper - The Nurse, Assassin, 'Britney'.

Setlist

  1. Sex Death And Money/Brutal Planet/Dragontown(medley)
  2. Sanctuary
  3. Eighteen
  4. Welcome To My Nightmare
  5. Go To Hell
  6. Billion Dollar Babies
  7. Teenage Frankenstein (replaced by 'Feed My Frankenstein' after first US leg)
  8. Triggerman (''Replaced by 'Wicked Young Man')
  9. Nurse Rozetta
  10. Dead Babies
  11. Steven (partial)(Second leg only)
  12. Ballad Of Dwight Fry
  13. I Love The Dead/Devil`s Food/Black Widow - Instrumental
  14. Drum Solo
  15. No More Mr Nice Guy
  16. Is It My Body
  17. Fantasy Man
  18. Be My Lover ('Trash' on second leg)
  19. Lost In America
  20. Every Woman Has A Name (replaced by 'I Never Cry' on second leg but eventuallly dropped)
  21. Only Women Bleed
  22. Poison
  23. Under My Wheels
  24. School`s Out
  25. Elected
  26. Fire (replaced by 'Cold Ethyl' on second leg.
  27. Department Of Youth (with Sex, Death And Money' reprised at the end)