Dennis Dunaway Project
Bones From The Yard
Dennis Dunaway knows a thing or two about writing a hit record. As part of the phenomenally successful ’70s band, The Alice Cooper Group, Dennis had his hand in some of the most famous records ever recorded. Songs such as “I’m Eighteen,” “School’s Out,” “Elected” and “Under My Wheels” permeated not only the airwaves but also the minds of adolescent fans all over the world. The group’s message of rebellion was as strong as their music and the fact these songs are still in current rotation today is testimony to their legendary status. But Dennis also had a darker side that was showcased in some of the group’s more infamous songs like “Black Ju Ju,” “Dead Babies” and “Killer.” The stage-show for these songs helped to propel the band’s unprecedented meteoric rise to fame and fortune.
With his first solo project release, Bones From The Yard Dennis once again conjures up his infamous style of songwriting and brings it menacingly back into the present. The result is clearly one of the year’s best and most well-thought-out records. Aided by the brilliant musicianship of Rick Tedesco (vocals and guitars), Ed Burns (vocals and keyboards) and the staccato bulldozing of Russ Wilson’s drumming, these songs take off with a majestic force all their own. “Kandahar” has a “Tales of Brave Ulysses” meets “Kashmir” power to it and “Man is a Beast” focuses on the current and dismal state of affairs dealing with a world that refuses to learn from the past and seems intent on destroying itself. “Needle in the Red” has a Hagar/Montrose, first-to-fourth-gear feel and probably the best driving line ever written in, “Waitin’ for the moment where this freeway meets the sky… and out the other side.” “Little Kid (With a Big, Big Gun)” has got to be the catchiest song written in a very long time. Ian Hunter lends a hand (or two) for the Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired piano track. Hear the chorus just once and just like any incarcerated lunatic, you’ll be singing it all day whether you want to or not. As Dennis explains, “The key line follows the guitar break. You made it so easy for him to get his gun. With Ian Hunter on piano, Joe Bouchard on cowbell and the great musicianship of Rick, Russ, and Ed. What more could anyone ask for?”
“Stalker” has a very Cooper-esque feel to it complete with a spoken word voiceover reminiscent of the classic Alice Cooper track, “Killer.” “Satan’s Sister” and “Red Room” feature Dennis the menacing vocalist and both songs are a trip. “Satan’s Sister” has a Stones-y groove to it with a locomotive rhythm section and “Red Room” could have been a recording of Ray Davies overdosing on Viagra. It paints a picture of a lust-filled “cat and mouse” relationship complete with a “moaning Lisa” in the background and is actually inspired by an incident Dennis experienced when he was seventeen and visited the red light district in Nogales, Mexico. “On The Mountain” dives into cocaine addiction with a power chord driven message as intense and grandiose as the drug’s hold over its victims.
But not all is gloom and doom here, tracks like “Me and My Boys,” “New Generation” and “Subway” reflects Dennis’s enthusiastic commitment to writing, recording and touring his new material. “New Generation” with its anthemic message could be the next great song of adolescence or new found independence and “Subway” pays a street-smart yet endearing homage to a romantic way of moving through the city. It opens and ends beautifully with the haunting melody of “I’m In The Mood For Love” played passionately on saxophone by Michael Tedesco, Rick’s Dad.
The CD closes out with the epic “Home Sweet Home.” As Rick tells it, “We wanted to end the record with something that was going give a kind of nostalgic feeling like when I was a kid and I was hearing a great record for the first time from one of my favorite artists. That classic big ending makes you feel like it was a heck of a ride and you’re just a little sad it’s over.”
Dennis remembers it this way, “All of the city-themed songs on Bones from the Yard originally came from a double concept album that I wrote to be the next Alice Cooper album. This was to be the gigantic big ending finale of that album. When we recorded this song, I thought about actually throwing in a kitchen sink and recording it.”
Indeed, there is a lot going on here as this is a record that gets better and better with each spin. There are hidden voices and subliminal uses of an assortment of darkened sounds but they don’t make this record a scary one, just scary good.
This is a big production record flavored with influences that sound like a melting pot of rock’s veteran artists. Combine the best of Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, Montrose, Blue Oyster Cult, Mountain, Mick Ronson, Van Halen, The Ramones, and throw in a dash of Barry McGuire, yes, “Eve Of Destruction” Barry McGuire and you have only a small taste of what this great new band sounds like.
I urge you to pick up Bones from The Yard. You’ll definitely dig it.
Dennis Dunway Project: www.dennisdunawayproject.com