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Classic Rock News And Views
August 2, 2012
For a lot of Aerosmith fans, Steven Tyler’s decision to take a seat on the judges’ panel on American Idol a couple of years ago came as a surprise. Given all the crazy stuff that was going on with Aerosmith at the time, perhaps it was just what the iconic frontman needed to get his head back in the rock and roll game and it looks like that’s just the way it all played out.
Tyler revealed to Rolling Stone recently that his Idol gig was indeed just “…something to do while the storm blew by.” Apparently, he wasn’t quite up to fulfilling the wishes of the shows producers for him to be the next Simon Cowell. Tyler says that he just doesn’t have that in him and watching him on American Idol made that pretty apparent.
It’s hard not to question just about everything you see on TV, but I did get the feeling that Steven Tyler was a guy whose heart harbored a soft spot for young contestants with big dreams swirling around in their heads.
“The show’s about kids and what you do to nurture their talent. They wanted me to take the piss out of the kids and I don’t have that in me. That’s not what I’m about. That’s more about that other guy. Not me.”
You know, after watching him for two seasons on the show, I believe him. It’s pretty obvious that Simon Cowell and his willingness to rain down scorching criticism on contestants was one of the feature attractions of the popular talent show and since viewership equals money, it’s not surprising to hear that the producers wanted Tyler to get his mean on.
Tyler’s two-season gig on Idol seems to have given both him and the rest of Aerosmith the space they needed to clear their heads and get the band back on track. The new album due in November and titled Music From Another Dimension!, features a few surprises that might actually be quite apropos considering the strange journey that Aerosmith has been on for the last few years.
Chief among the unexpected just may be the collaboration with country singer Carrie Underwood. Underwood and Tyler duet on a track called “Beautiful.” It’s not the first time the two have worked together, but I think the decision to go ahead with a track that Tyler describes as a “country-western crossover ballad” is a surprise for fans of the hard-rocking Bad Boys From Boston.
I don’t consider myself a big country music fan, but I will readily admit to owning a few Carrie Underwood albums and I enjoy listening to them. So I say that if Aerosmith is going to dabble a bit in country music and bring someone from that genre in to duet, Underwood is an excellent choice. Joe Perry was initially skeptical about the idea but came around when he heard the finished product saying, “Their voices matched up really well. It doesn’t sound forced. It was just right.”
Perhaps not as surprising is news that Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp also lent his musical talent to the new album. Depp reportedly sings backup on a Joe Perry track entitled “Freedom Fighter,” but there is some question over whether it will be held over for release as part of a deluxe edition or simply find fate as an outtake.
For those of us who grew up watching MTV during the 1980’s the name Julian Lennon conjures up memories of hit music videos by the eldest son of the late John Lennon. He enjoyed substantial success as a recording artist at that time but has been pretty much off the radar for a good while now. Even so, Lennon and Tyler apparently clicked when they met in L.A. while Tyler was working on American Idol. As a result, Lennon is featured singing harmony on a track from the new album called “Love Three Times A Day,” which is described by Tyler as “Beatlesque.”
It sounds like the Bad Boys are back, although they may be putting a little more distance between themselves and their old ways, and are willing to take things a little off the tried-and-true rock and roll tracks here and there.
For his part, guitarist Joe Perry sounds like he’s ready to get back to work. Tired of playing the same old Aerosmith faves, Perry says, “We can be the best Aerosmith cover band out there, and I was getting tired of it. So I’m really glad to have this record.”
Since it’s been more than ten years since their last album was released, it’s not hard to see where Perry’s coming from.
July 31, 2012
Story and Photos by Scott Smith
Aerosmith and Cheap Trick have kicked Father Time in the gut.
The two rock bands gave 150 percent for a sold-out crowd July 28 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, with both groups changing up their set lists and displaying a youthful energy under multi-colored stage lights. Stretching well past the three-hour mark, the show let one Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group (Aerosmith) and one band that miraculously has been refused an induction by the hall (Cheap Trick) strut their high-decibel, swaggering stuff.
Cheap Trick opened the evening, as original members Rick Nielsen (guitar), Robin Zander (lead vocals, guitar) and Tom Peterssen (12-string bass) became a sonic flamethrower. The trio roamed the shadowed stage as Nielsen’s son, Daxx Nielsen impressively performed drum duties — Daxx has been Cheap Trick’s touring drummer for the last three years, while original drummer Bun E. Carlos remains a band member.
The machine gun-like “Clock Strikes Ten” arrived early in the set. Zander, dressed in a black “Dream Police” uniform, belted out the lyrics as the hands of Peterssen and Rick Nielsen raced across guitar necks. Dressed in black ball cap, sunglasses and black clothes, Nielsen, as usual, threw out countless guitar picks to fans while running across the stage. The six-stringer’s licks sounded fresh as ever, mixing melodic, Beatles-like guitar runs with moments of manic, Who-esque wailing.
“Surrender,” “Need Your Love,” “The Flame” and the surprise inclusion of the punkish “She’s Tight” all were accounted for during Cheap Trick’s too-short, 45-minute time spot. Despite the abbreviated set, the Rockford, Illinois-borne quartet surprised the multi-generational audience by slipping in the blistering “I Know What I Want,” letting a smiling Peterssen take lead vocals for the stomping rock track, while “Dream Police” and “I Want You To Want Me” comprising a most powerful, one-two punch of an encore.
Twenty minutes later, Boston’s bad boys of rock and roll commandeered the stage with a surprising, wonderful take of the underrated “Draw the Line.” Lead singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry emerged at the front of the stage’s center-aisle catwalk, while guitarist Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer staked their space on the main-stage.
The final chords of “Draw the Line” bled into a spirited version of “Love in an Elevator” before “Same Old Song and Dance” arrived. The tracks from Aerosmith’s comeback, post-1986 years sounded solid — “Livin’ on the Edge,” “Rag Doll,” “Jaded” and “Oh Yeah” contained much-needed grit — but it was the 1970s tracks that harbored the most venom.
“Rats in the Cellar” came out swinging and “Last Child” proved even funkier than its original studio incarnation. When Aerosmith dove head-first into The Beatles’ “Come Together,” most of the fans seemed shocked before cheering their approval.
Aerosmith’s sole new song of the night, “Legendary Child,” was strong, with 10-story guitar hooks and edgy drums and bass. Hamilton sounded great on bass and got several back slaps and shoulder rubs from Tyler during Aerosmith’s first three songs. Hamilton underwent cancer treatment back in mid-2009 and temporarily was replaced by Perry’s solo bassist, David Hull, for part of that ‘09 tour. In Dallas, it was obvious that Hamilton was glad to be healthy and back on the road — his broad grin was seen all night.
“What It Takes” and “Dream On,” technically, were the only ballads in Aerosmith’s set. “Dream On” started moments after a large, white piano raised from below the stage and into several spotlights. Tyler sat down at the piano to play the song’s opening, haunting chords as Perry, a few moments later, climbed a portable staircase to stand on top of the piano while playing guitar.
Tyler, symbolically thumbing his nose at authority, bragged that the band was going to play past curfew as the crowd roared for 30 seconds. The way Perry and Whitford played with some of the songs’ arrangements and stretched their solos led to a set that was longer and even more satisfying than their still-excellent gigs in Little Rock in 2004 and Tulsa in 2009.
Aerosmith’s 130-minute set included the Perry-sung “Combination” and lively readings of “Boogie Man” and the “Peter Gunn” theme before climaxing with a perfect version of “Train Kept a Rollin’” as yellow-white lights and lengthy sprays of confetti showered the adoring, concert-shirt wearing crowd. Like Cheap Trick, Aerosmith showed zero interest in slowing down touring or recordings schedules.
October 26, 2011
Steven Tyler has certainly suffered through his share of mishaps over the last few years and recent reports out of Paraguay reveal that the flamboyant front man has once again found himself on the losing end of a brief battle with gravity.
Tyler, who is in the South American country with the rest of Aerosmith for their first-ever concert there, reportedly suffered a nasty fall while in his hotel room shower sometime Tuesday. Although he is said to have broken two teeth and suffered cuts to his face, the Paraguay show – which is expected to draw more than 50,000 fans – is only being postponed one day.
Tyler received treatment at a private hospital where he spent some four hours. In addition to treatment for the cuts to his face, Tyler also underwent emergency dental surgery for the placement of two dental implants. Tyler was discharged from the hospital after the successful treatment and returned to his hotel room to recover from his injuries.
A spokesman for the company that organized the show, Marcelo Antunez, said that only a single day postponement would be necessary after Tyler’s “small accident.” Gustavo Perez, a bellboy at the Bourbon Hotel where Tyler is staying seemed to think the incident was more serious and described it as a “nasty fall.” Personally, if I had to choose between believing a hotel bellboy or a PR guy working for a concert organizer, I’d have to go with the bellboy. Losing two teeth sounds like a bit more than a “small accident.”
A report by another individual associated with the concert organizers said that Tyler was suffering from dehydration and gastrointestinal problems prior to the fall which may have been contributing factors in the accident. Whether Tyler has fully recovered from those conditions was not revealed, but fans holding tickets may also be holding their breath as well, hoping that Tyler is indeed well enough to perform one day after the shower mishap.
Tyler’s last known fall took place during a show in Toronto last summer and did not result in any injury, but a previous stumble at a show during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally back in 2009 took Tyler out of action for a while and derailed the group’s tour; an event that lead to a lot of uncertainty about the future of Aerosmith.
March 18, 2011
It seems to have started with a casual comment by American Idol judge and Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler who told contestant James Durbin that he’d sing with him on stage if he makes it to the show’s finale. As we’ve come to expect, comments made by celebrities on live TV can generate a lot of buzz very quickly and spiral out of control.
I was watching the episode in question and kind of took Tyler’s statement half-seriously. It just seemed like one of those things someone says that may or may not be a “promise,” although that’s the way it was interpreted by a lot of people. It didn’t take long for headlines like “Aerosmith to Perform on American Idol!” to start appearing on various web sites and media outlets.
According to guitarist Joe Perry, any plans for the group to perform on the popular show are news to him. Talking with the Boston Herald, Perry was quoted as saying, “I don’t know anything about it. No one’s said a word to me.” He went on to say that the group will be working on a new album this summer and has plans to tour in South America and Japan, although the the Japan plans may change to to the events currently playing out there.
Perry also may have backed off a bit on his stance regarding Tyler’s position at the judge’s table at American Idol, saying that he would likely be willing to perform on the show if they could work it into their schedule. Comments by Perry a while back comparing American Idol to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may have simply been the result of the feud that Tyler and Perry appeared to be embroiled in at the time.
Tyler admits he has not officially asked the other members of the group if they were willing to perform on American Idol, but added that he was sure that they would do it. Fellow judge Randy Jackson quickly agreed, saying that he was sure the group would love to do it. Maybe he knows something that Perry and the rest of Aerosmith doesn’t!
With this much buzz about an Aerosmith performance on American Idol, it seems likely that an official offer will be extended by the shot callers at the show. There’s no way to be sure, but if I had to guess, I’d say we’ll be seeing Aerosmith performing on American Idol before the end of the season.
September 30, 2010
The decision of Aerosmith frontman to accept the offer by American Idol to become a judge on the program has cast doubt on the future of the veteran rock group, but bass player Tom Hamilton does not seem too worried about it.
While Hamilton acknowledges that Tyler is taking on a challenge, he seems satisfied with Tyler’s commitment to continue as a member of Aerosmith. According to a recent article on the Boston Herald, Tyler has “been very emphatic in saying that the way his time is arranged on the show leaves room to work on a record. He’s been taking great pains to remind everybody of that, so hopefully that’s the way it will come out.”
Even so, Hamilton admits that he sees Tyler’s decision to take the Idol gig as a possible catalyst for future problems. Guitarist Joe Perry made his thoughts on the matter quite clear some months back when the Idol story first broke and was quoted as saying, “I don’t want Aerosmith’s name involved with (“Idol”). . . It’s a reality show designed to get people to watch that station and sell advertising . . . It’s one step above “(Teenage Mutant) Ninja Turtles.”
One might wonder why Perry would come out with something like when one considers all of the Aerosmith merchandise that’s out there for sale. Are we supposed to believe that Perry is not getting a piece of that action? Then there’s “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.” I wonder if that particular product has ever been advertised on television. He’s even got his likeness from the game along with the game’s logo on his Twitter home page!
I think Perry’s comments have more to do with his personal feelings about Tyler than about American Idol being a shameless, cash-grabbing sideshow designed to hypnotize viewers into buying whatever it is they happen to be advertising.
I actually think Perry’s a stand-up guy, but I think he lets his emotions get the best of him at times, and he may be coming out with things that he hasn’t quite thought through sufficiently. Who among us hasn’t been guilty of that?
Perry, the member of the group who has earned himself a reputation as the most outspoken on matters concerning the band’s internal strife, has so far remained silent since word came down that Tyler had inked the deal with American Idol and will be joining Jennifer Lopez as a new judge on the popular talent show. Maybe he’s taking some time to see how things go, or simply waiting to cool off a bit before commenting publicly.
Hamilton also reveals that he’s anxious for the band to get back to work on their next album, which is probably the case for other member of the group as well. Perry’s public comments and actions in recent months suggest that he has no plans of retiring from Aerosmith, and intends to keep on working with or without Steven Tyler.
Turmoil and controversy is nothing new for Aerosmith, a fact that’s not lost on Hamilton as he jokes about watching a TV game show, and then says, “Just this afternoon I was watching ‘Family Feud’ thinking we should be on this show. Oh wait, we already are!”