“I Never Cry” is one of Alice Cooper’s biggest hits, a shockingly reflective — dare I say vulnerable — soft-rock ballad inspired by the struggle with alcoholism that found the singer checking into rehab a year after the single peaked at No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
And lest you think the tender nature of that record meant the shock-rock legend had gone soft on us, it’s from an album titled “Alice Cooper Goes to Hell.”
That hit album arrived in the summer of ’76, long before Sophie and Alex Dorsten, the Phoenix siblings who perform as Dorsten, were born.
So they never experienced the culture shock of hearing the man who sang “I Love the Dead” as the voice behind one of the prettiest records anybody made that year.
But now they’ve released their own recording of the song — a full-scale reimagining complete with a new melody and haunting electronic textures.
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Why the Dorstens chose to record Alice Cooper’s ‘I Never Cry’
The 20-something siblings recorded the track as a tribute to Cooper, a Cortez High School track star who met his original bandmates in Phoenix and now lives in Paradise Valley, and the song’s co-writer, the late Dick Wagner.
The Dorstens have connections to both songwriters.
Sophie works at Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center, giving vocal lessons and teaching a songwriting class. Alex has served as a judge for Alice Cooper’s annual Proof Is in the Pudding competition.
“I’ve been part of Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock since I was 13,” Sophie says. “I’m now 20. And I see how much Alice does for teens in our community, the opportunities that he provides. I just think he’s a really great person. And he and his wife are always so kind and down to earth.”
The Dorstens’ manager, Warren Wyatt, looked at Wagner as an early mentor.
“So we just thought it would be kind of cool to cover a song that reflects both of those connections,” Sophie says.
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‘Taking the bones of the song and making something new’
The siblings weren’t familiar with “I Never Cry” before deciding to come up with their own version.
“We were kind of thinking, ‘What would be a cool song from Alice Cooper and Dick Wagner that they wrote together?'” Sophie says. “And I just thought we could do something interesting to it. Alex and I heard the song and we were like, ‘This could be cool. We could mix some cool new elements into this.'”
They certainly accomplished that.
“I think the best part was having the creative freedom of taking the bones of the song and making something new,” Sophie says.
What Alice Cooper has to say about the ‘I Never Cry’ cover
Alice Cooper says he likes what the Dorstens have done with his song.
“It’s always a compliment when somebody chooses to record a song that you have written and performed and then adds their own particular style to it,” he told The Arizona Republic.
“My version could be a broken-hearted guy sitting at a bar at 3 a.m. Sophie’s version is much more ethereal. More like an angel sitting on a cloud brushing her hair in slow motion. It’s quite haunting and beautiful.”
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Next up for Dorsten: An EP recorded at Abbey Road Studios
“I Never Cry” is the first of five singles Dorsten plan on releasing this year. Next up is the Americana-flavored “To the River.”
They are also releasing an EP of tracks they recorded in March 2022 at Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles famously laid down nearly every song on which their legacy has come to rest.
“It was so cool,” Sophie says. “It was such an honor to record there. It was a little scary, just because we had a little crunch of time. But it was such a cool experience. I’ll never forget it.”
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Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.
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