Review Summary: From start to finish, it's a great listen - not Alice's finest work, but it still rises above as a great album.
Dirty Diamonds is a bunch of songs, seemingly all unconnected in content - yet all share the well established Alice Cooper style. Each song has either some twisted comedy (Saga of Jesse Jane), drama (the title track) or rock'n'roll (Your Own Worst Enemy) about it - meaning that any song can be picked out, held up and be proudly shown as one of Alice's fine aspects of showmanship and musicianship.
To the casual fan, this is a great hard rock sounding record. Some of the more witty lines which can be found in Run Down the Devil, Saga of Jesse Jane and Perfect catch would you unexpectedly and give a good sense of Alice's lyric style that dates back to his beginning from his older tracks like Mary Ann and Cold Ethyl. If it wasn't for these imaginative lyrics of either wit or storytelling, this would be the standard Hard Rock album. And Alice can sing the standard Hard Rock album if he wanted to, and furthermore make it decent, but it's these golden nuggets of lines which raises this album above standard.
However, to the more informed fan, there's not much innovation here - nothing here will shock any decent Alice Cooper fan into thinking 'wow that's unexpected!' - no twists or turns which develops Alice's character into something new (like the jump from Raise Your Fist to Trash), but it will surely bring a smile to a fan's face when hearing new lines of the familiar Alice signature style, proving that it still works effectively after all these years.
If you liked 'The Eyes of Alice Cooper' which came out 2 years before this, then chances are you'll enjoy Dirty Diamonds also as they share the same philosophy of very little polishing of songs with the intention of making each track a rough, gritty listen. This is in keeping with the style of The Darkness, White Stripes and the many other bands who wants to re-create a vintage style of music to the point where each band had a very similar style. Alice is famous for not following such fashions, it's what got him here - so maybe this is a weak spot for him (similar to Trash and the big hair, arena style of bands around then). But this might be more down to him having a soft spot for such vintage style of music - being brought up on Rolling Stones and the like will make any old rocker wish for the good old days of recording an album without all the most modern technology. This was the best time for him to do it ... so he did it....
And he did it well by making it 'Cooperised' which obviously no other band can do, making it this albums' saving grace - otherwise it would wallow in with the rest of the other pseudo vintage band albums out there at the time.
And on the subject of band albums - this is definitely an Alice band album. the strength of the studio band was really needed to pull this album through due to lack of post production. They needed to be able to perform well live in order for this album to be of any quality as lyrics alone wouldn't compensate for bad sound ... and thankfully the band here is super sturdy. It's no wonder that the studio band was the same as the band that went out on tour - Alice seems to be proud of who he's got behind him due to the inclusion of band photo's in the artwork, something that hasn't been seen since the days of the original band.