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.