johnny depp

REVIEW: Hollywood Vampires – Rise (2019 3 CD Japanese edition) Part 2 – Live

Part two of a two part review

Check out part one, the studio album Rise, by clicking here.


HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES – Rise (2019 Edel Japanese edition) – Discs 2 & 3 Live

How do you do a Japanese edition up right?  How about including 21 bonus tracks in the form of a double live album?  Get your credit cards out, folks.

Hollywood Vampires Live unfortunately lacks any English documentation, but Japanese readers might know when and where this show was recorded.  It focuses on the covers with a handful of originals, the basis of the first Hollywood Vampires album.  Unfortunately a few more fallen heroes have been added to the list of rock casualties, and so Lemmy and Bowie are among the stars honoured.

The original tune “Raise the Dead” (featuring an intro by the late Sir Christopher Lee) opens the show, but it’s just preamble for the better known covers.  “I Got A Line On You” is the first track where you realize you’re listening to Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses, The Cult) on drums.  He’s unmistakable.  The big surprise is that the bassist is Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots)!  Alice first covered this tune back in ’88 and it sounds like it’s one of his own songs now.  “20th Century Boy” has bite, a little more than the studio cut.

Alice pauses to explain the concept of the band.  “We are the Hollywood Vampires,” he asserts.  “We pay homage to all of our dead drunk friends.  And here comes one now.”  It’s Keith Moon and “Pinball Wizard”, a Who cover that was not on the Hollywood Vampires’ debut album.  “My Generation” was however, and here it’s injected with the live fire of the sweaty concert stage.  Jimi Hendrix is honoured next with “Manic Depression”.  Joe Perry playing Jimi Hendrix.  Cool.   Alice Cooper has no problem jumping from style to style, expert performer that he is.

“This one’s for John,” states Alice.  That would be John Lennon, with both “Cold Turkey” and “Come Together”.  Joe Perry, of course, is no stranger to “Come Together” which Aerosmith scored a hit with themselves.  “Come Together” is another nice bonus because it wasn’t on the Vampires album.  It has a different feel from Aerosmith’s take even though it’s the same guitar player.

“Seven and Seven Is” (by Arthur Lee and Love) goes next, which is a late addition to the canon.  The Vampires recorded it as an iTunes bonus track for the debut album where it remains an exclusive.  The live version is a blitz; Matt Sorum’s sticks must have caught fire.  Contrasting that is the band’s interpretation of “Whole Lotta Love”, with Alice and Tommy Henriksen singing lead instead of Brian Johnson.

“I met these guys in 1968.  They were my best friends.  And I drank a little bit with Jim Morrison…”  The Doors are next to be saluted.  “Five to One” and “Break On Through” kick ass; Alice really gives ‘er.  David Bowie gets the nod on “Rebel Rebel” and “Suffragette City”.  It all sounds natural to the Hollywood Vampires.

“As Bad As I Am” is an original song about Johnny Depp, and another track that was only on the iTunes version of Hollywood Vampires.  It sounds a bit like “Reckless Life” by Guns N’ Roses.  Joe Perry takes the next lead vocal on “Stop Messin’ Around”, the old Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac blues number.  It’s an obvious choice since Aerosmith covered it on their 2004 blues album Honkin’ on Bobo.  This one is an extended jam, far beyond what Aerosmith did with it.

“My Dead Drunk Friends” is a Vampires original, sort of their raison d’etre, that being paying tribute to Alice’s deceased drinking buddies.  It pales in comparison to “Ace of Spades” (lead vocals by Henriksen), easily the heaviest song that Joe Perry’s ever played on.  Possibly Alice too.  Check out DeLeo on bass, doing his best Lemmy.  It’s sad that Lemmy Kilmister joined the list of Rainbow regulars who didn’t make it, but holy shit, what a version!

Only now, at the end of the concert, do the Vampires roll out their own past hits.  “I’m Eighteen”, “Sweet Emotion”, “Train Kept A Rollin'” and “School’s Out” sound brilliant.  In particular, to hear “I’m Eighteen” with Joe Fucking Perry playing guitar?  “Sweet Emotion” with Alice Cooper singing?  Sweet Jesus Murphy, is this a fever dream?  As usual, Alice melds “Another Brick in the Wall” to “School’s Out” pretty much making it the definitive “school” song.

Closing the show, Alice reminds us:  “And remember, give blood!  To us!”

If the Vampires keep putting out quality releases, then that’s a distinct possibility.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Hollywood Vampires – Rise (2019 3 CD Japanese edition) Part 1

Part one of a two part review


HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES – Rise (2019 Edel Japanese edition) – Disc 1

The first Hollywood Vampires was a covers album with a few originals.  The second is an originals album with a few covers!  It’s a little strange and kind of sounds exactly how you think it would.  Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, Johnny Depp and pals obviously set out to have fun, which is audible, but there’s also a weird bent that runs through.  Interestingly some of the best songs are the ones that sound like Aerosmith riffs, done up far better than Aerosmith would have lately.

At the outset, the Aerosmith flavour dominates the stew that is “I Want My Now”.  It’s “Draw The Line” meets Alice Cooper.  You can hear what it would have been like with Joey Kramer on drums, Tom Hamilton on bass and Steven Tyler shrieking up front, but instead it’s Alice, who has had a much more consistent output of late than Aerosmith.  In other words, Perry’s riffs are in good hands and the guy deserves to have a lil’ fun.  His guitar work has the looseness that Aerosmith shed years ago.

“Who’s Laughing Now” is psychedelic Alice, which could be the Depp influence. It’s a really good tune accented by 8-string bass (by Tommy Henriksen) and Joe Perry’s unmistakable guitar expertise. It’s also bookended by two weird instrumentals that appear to be Depp creations. Unfortunately all this lead-up ends at the slow and stodgy “The Boogieman Surprise”, probably the weakest tune. This starts a lull. A farcicle “Welcome to Bushwackers”, featuring Jeff Beck, is a token hillbilly country tune that doesn’t live up to its promise. The highlight, obviously, is Jeff Beck.

Course is corrected on Joe Perry’s lead vocal, a surprising “You Can’t Put Your Arm Around A Memory”, the Johnny Thunders song previously covered by Duff McKagan. Joe’s version is poignant and wise. “Git From Round Me” is a pulsing, hypnotic charge through the gates with Johnny Depp sharing vocal duties with Alice and Tommy. Depp takes one by himself on the Bowie cover “Heroes”, a surprisingly outstanding version. According to Cooper, Johnny Depp (who is currently fighting an acrimonious divorce battle with two-way accusations of domestic violence) had a lot of emotion to put into Rise.  Perhaps that’s what gives “Heroes” its weight, though it’s not a heavy song.

The best of the brief instrumentals is by second bassist Chris Wyse, called “A Pityful Beauty”.  The song it precedes, “New Threat”, is OK.  It is not up to the better material, sounding a bit like a stock riff & rhythm.  Fortunately “Mr. Spider” has a classic Cooper atmosphere, brimming with drama and horror.  Also sounding like classic Alice, but a different kind, is “We Gotta Rise”.  It’s “Elected” all over again with a Billion Dollar Babies mold, starring “President” Alice Cooper.  Alice isn’t political, but it’s hard to read these lyrics as anything but:

“We gotta rise, let’s rise,
We gotta rise, let’s rise above the lies,
It’s you and I, it’s do or die,
We gotta rise, let’s rise above the lies.”

Maybe that’s reading too much into it, but it sure does sound like a call to arms.  Regardless, “We Gotta Rise” is the best original song on the album.  Depp’s next lead vocal, the Jim Carroll cover “People Who Died” is just about its equal.  A rockabilly punk rocker, “People Who Died” is catchy as the flu, but better for you.

Rise concludes with an interesting spoken word track called “Congratulations”.  It works because Alice, Johnny and Joe have rich speaking voices.  Tommy Henriksen gets a spoken word portion too, using his more like a beat poet.  What you’d think would be a boring slog turns out to be an album highlight.

It’s hard to fathom where Rise will sit in six months time or a year.  It has moments less than stellar, where fat could have been cut, but the weirder escapades could warrant many returns.  Bad press aside, Johnny Depp is charismatic on record.  Joe Perry sounds like he’s having fun playing rock and roll away from Aerosmith.  And Alice?  When has he ever sounded like he wasn’t having fun?

Rise will probably have more longevity than the Hollywood Vampires’ covers album, it just needs to lose some dead weight.

3.5/5 stars

Come back tomorrow for a look at the Japanese exclusive Discs 2 and 3:  Hollywood Vampires Live.

 

 

REVIEW: Hollywood Vampires (Alice Cooper) – Hollywood Vampires (2015 Japanese import)

NEW RELEASE

Scan_20150920 (3)ALICE COOPER / HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES – Hollywood Vampires (2015 Universal Japan)

Ignore the hype.  The press has been going ga-ga over this new supergroup featuring movie star Johnny Depp (rhythm guitar), Joe Perry (lead guitar), and Alice Cooper (lead vocals).  Just ignore the hype completely.  Cooper fans know what this is.  This is the covers album that Alice has been talking about doing ever since Welcome 2 My Nightmare in 2011.   Alice has even been playing a number of these tunes, in these arrangements, live.  Check out his Raise the Dead double live album/video for a few.

According to an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock earlier this  year, “I can’t tell you who’s on what right now, ’cause it’s not gonna be released yet, but it’s the ‘who’s who’ of everything.  It was one of those things where, at one point, I’m looking around in the studio and I’m going, ‘Holy crap! Look who’s in the studio.”  Bob Ezrin, Alice’s long-time producer and musical collaborator came up with the concept.  Alice continues:  “Bob came up with the idea, ‘Let’s concentrate it on all the guys that you drank with in L.A., the Hollywood Vampires, the ones that are all dead.’  I like the title All My Dead Drunk Friends. It’s just offensive enough to work, but all those guys would have totally got it. They had the same sense of humor. If you told them you were going to do an album after they were gone called All My Dead Drunk Friends, they would have died laughing.”  Ultimately the album was simply called Hollywood Vampires.  That’s also the name of this “supergroup” which is essentially just Alice with Depp and guests.

I have this album filed in my Alice Cooper section, and that’s how I’m treating this review.

Hollywood Vampires consists of 14 tracks, except in Japan who have 15.  Two of these are brand-new songs, and one is an intro called “The Last Vampire”.  Fittingly, this features the narration of Sir Christopher Lee, who passed away earlier this year.  Lee’s old friend from the Hammer horror days, Vincent Price, appeared on Cooper’s original Welcome to my Nightmare in 1975.  Today, Alice Cooper truly is the last vampire left from those old days.  Lee’s rich voice is backed by spooky keys and theremin by Ezrin, Depp and engineer Justin Cortelyou.  “Listen to them, children of the night…what music they make.”

Alice then kicks it with “Raise the Dead”.  Depp appears on every track, and Alice’s drummer Glen Sobol plays on this one and several others.  It’s an upbeat stomper of a track, and a perfect introduction to this covers album that is also a concept album.  The first of Alice’s dead drunk friends to be covered is Keith Moon on “My Generation”, an authentic and pounding version.  Alice Cooper is one of the few that does justice to it.  Bassist Bruce Witkin perfectly tackles John Entwistle’s signature bass solo.  One thing that is immediately obvious is how massive this album sounds.  Ezrin wrought a monster-sounding disc, so full and heavy, but textured when required.

John Bonham is up next.  “Whole Lotta Love” was handled in a completely different way than you’d expect.  Starting as a low, prowling Cooper blues it soon blasts into gear.  Alice isn’t known for hitting those high Plant notes, so who joins him?  None other than Brian Johnson of AC/DC, who kicks my ass completely.  Joe Walsh and Cooper’s former lead guitarist Orianthi play some jaw droppingly greasy guitars, but Alice’s harmonica work is also worthy of praise!  Even though very few can cover Led Zeppelin, “Whole Lotta Love” turned out to be my favourite track.  It’s also the heaviest sounding, like a skid of concrete blocks assaulting your face!  That’s Zak Starkey (son of Ringo) on drums.

Cooper has covered “I Got a Line on You” (Spirit) before, on the soundtrack to Iron Eagle 3, of all things.  That 1988 take is my preferred version, but Alice remade it on Hollywood Vampires.  Abe Laboriel Jr., Joe Walsh, and Alice’s old bassist Kip Winger join as guests.  Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction helps Alice out on the lead vocals, but his part isn’t prominent.  Then it’s time for the Doors, and a medley of “Five to One” and “Break on Through”.  Alice had been playing “Break on Through” live, but this version has Robby Krieger!  Alice heavies both of them up, but he is also one of the few singers who can do Morrison.

Farrell and Krieger return for a Harry Nilsson medley, joined by David E. Grohl on drums.  “One” is rendered as a haunting, creepy piece as if Alice himself wrote it.  This merges into “Jump Into the Fire”, a strangely upbeat companion which rocks in a vintage 70’s fashion.  It’s like guitar nirvana.  There’s also a cute outro of “Coconut”, also by Nilsson.

Sir Paul himself, rock royalty if there ever was one, shows up for Badfinger’s “Come and Get It”, which Paul wrote.  Joe Perry has spoken about how incredible it was when McCartney showed up in the studio with his Hofner bass, and actually allowed them to hold it!  “Come and Get It” is simple rock/pop, not the kind of timeless thing that happened when Paul wrote with John, but certainly a notch above what mere mortals can write.  I love hearing Paul’s “screaming” voice, and I’m sure everybody in the studio had a great time.  Sure sounds that way.

Marc Bolan’s “Jeepster” is one I could pass on.  Alice makes it sound like an original from 1972’s School’s Out, but if you’re only going to skip one song, it’s probably going to be “Jeepster”.  Lennon’s “Cold Turkey” featuring Joe Perry has more kick and grind to it, and it’s always a pleasure to hear Joe Perry do some Aero-jammin’ on lead guitar.  (I think it would have been amazing to get McCartney to play bass on this Lennon classic — shame nobody thought of it.  That could have been history made.)

Scan_20150920 (4)The Japanese bonus track is “I’m A Boy”, the second Who cover.  Once again, Alice nails it.  This is such a difficult song to attempt.  Alice makes it work, and if anybody can do it, it’s Alice.  “My name is Alice I’m a head-case…”  Just that one change makes the song work.  “I’m a boy, I’m a boy, but my mom won’t admit it…I’m a boy, but if I say I am, I get it.”  And he’s got the girl’s name.  It’s perfect!  This bonus track is worth tracking down if you’re a Cooper fan.  You’ll definitely need it in your collection.

Jimi Hendrix was a Hollywood Vampire, and “Manic Depression” is the song Alice chose to cover.  (He’d already done “Fire” back in the Hey Stoopid days.)  Like “Jeepster”, this is one that could be skipped.  Joe Walsh fans will enjoy his lead guitar work, but otherwise, it’s a stock cover.  Way, way better is “Itchycoo Park”.  Alice’s treatment of the Small Faces is far more entertaining, and its melodic base continue to deliver the hooks.

Brian Johnson returns to belt it out on the “School’s Out”/”Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” medley.  This arrangement is similar to the way Alice did it live, and it’s cool how the two songs work together perfectly.  It’s a genius mashup.  Guests include Slash, and original Cooper band members Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith.  “School’s Out”, of course, is here for Glen Buxton, of the original Alice Cooper band.  Buxton had suffered the consequences of alcohol abuse, and dropped out of music completely when the original band split in ’74.  Buxton died in 1997.

The final song is an original, “My Dead Drunk Friends,” the song that Alice wanted to use as a title track.  If you don’t mind some black comedy, you will love this tribute to all the lost Hollywood Vampires.  It’s irresistible, and also sounds vintage Alice.  So chants the crowd:  “We drink and we fight and we fight and we puke and we puke and we fight and we drink!”  Doesn’t sound particularly glamorous, but Alice isn’t about to have a mournful wake.  Alice is about entertainment, and even though a brilliant artist who drinks themselves to death is sad, Alice has thrown a party for them instead.  “My Dead Drunk Friends” ends the party on a darkly celebrating note, as only he can.  Job well done.

Hollywood Vampires is pleasantly surprising.  9/10 covers albums are not worth the money you paid for them.  Alice’s is.  They call it a supergroup for marketing purposes but it only takes one listen to know what this is.  This is a project that Alice, Bob Ezrin and friends have been passionate about for years, and has finally been finished.  It is an apt follow-up to Welcome 2 My Nightmare, and another killer concept album from the kings of concept albums.

4/5 stars

REVIEW/GUEST SHOT: Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension! (2012 deluxe edition)

It’s always great to have a contrasting point of view when it comes to a new release.  So, my buddy Tommy Morais, one of the top-rated reviewers on the Canadian Amazon site, is back to give us his two cents.  Tommy got the standard edition of the new ‘Smith, while I got the deluxe.  Neither of us had read the others’ review when we did this.

I’ll go first.  Here’s my take on the deluxe:

SAM_1712

AEROSMITH – Music From Another Dimension! (Deluxe Edition)

When an album is a decade or so in the making (hello, Axl!), it is only certain to create one thing:  expectation.  And it’s difficult to approach the new Aero-platter without expectation, seeing as the pre-release hype was absolutely gonzo.  “Sounds like our old stuff!  Sounds like Rocks!”  Etc. etc. etc.

The truth of the matter is, on Music From Another Dimension! there are elements that sound like classic Aerosmith.  Mostly, it’s in Joe Perry’s riffs.  Otherwise, this album is firmly in Get A Grip territory, minus Bruce Fairbairn’s trademark flourish.

The opening track, the dumb-titled “Luv XXX” contains one of those vintage 70’s sounding Joe Perry riffs, as does the next song “Oh Yeah”.  Both are really decent songs, with “Oh Yeah” getting points for cool female backing vocals.  Perhaps if “Oh Yeah” had been on Pump rather than this album, it would have been a hit single.

“Beautiful” is the first song that I strongly dislike.  Not only does it have a dull chorus, but Tyler thought it would be a good idea to spend the verses rapping.  Not exactly a return to Rocks, is it Steven?  There is seldom anything as embarrassing as a rock band attempting genre-hopping into rap, unless that’s already your modus operandi, like Rage Against the Machine for example.  Rush pulled it off once (“Roll the Bones”) but Aerosmith come off as desperate.

The first ballad, “Tell Me”, is up next.  An acoustic ballad along the lines of a song like “What It Takes”, this is an acceptable song, but it lacks a decent chorus.  Nothing outstanding.  I enjoy Tom Hamilton’s rolling bassline underneath.

Then comes “Out Go the Lights”, which captures the Aerofunk of old.  It has some funky harmonica and the return of the girls on backing vocals.  Joey Kramer’s unmistakable drums sound absolutely massive.  I think this one must be one of the oldest tunes on the album.  It shares one section with “My Girl” from Pump, indicating a probable genesis back in 1989.  It also shares a melody with the next song, the overrated single “Legendary Child”.  “Legendary Child” is overproduced with too many layers of vocals, but Tom’s bass just kicks you in the nuts.  It’s strange to hear one melody used more than once on an album, but that is perhaps because of the patchwork nature of the recording, and the fact that Aerosmith dug back into the archives for unfinished songs.

Let’s just skip “What Could Have Been Love”, which is basically the same as any Aero-ballad since Get A Grip.  Instead, go straight to “Street Jesus”, an monolithic slab of riffery.  This one could have been on Rocks or Toys.  The whiplash-inducing tempo will leave you out of breath!

But why, oh why Aerosmith, did you bookend that awesome song with another typical Aero-ballad?  And this one a duet with Carrie Underwood?  So contrived.  I really can’t see Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton (who co-wrote the song) sitting around at home going, “You know, we really need to get a country singer on our album.”  Nothing against Carrie Underwood, I would have jumped at the chance to record with Aerosmith too.

“Lover Alot” is another single, and even though it’s uptempo, it suffers from lack of melody and really dumb repetitive lyrics.  Tyler’s normally a very clever lyricist.  This is just below him.

Ah don’t you know that she loves you a lot
Why don’t you know, don’t you know what you got
I even know that she loves you a lot
Why don’t you know that she loves you a lot
Ah don’t you know that she loves you a lot
Why don’t you know, don’t you know what you got
I even know that she loves you a lot
Why don’t you know, don’t you know, don’t you?

Seriously.

“We All Fall Down” is the fourth ballad, but a decent one.  I can hear some serious emotion coming out of this one.  Like “Amazing” from Get A Grip, this one has something special to it that speaks to me, be it the melancholy melody or the lyrics, I don’t know.

Joe Perry’s first lead vocal of the album, “Freedom Fighter”, is a surprisingly strong tune.  I really like this one.  Granted, it has the vibe of something that could have been on Joe’s last solo album, but that’s not a bad thing.  It’s a great song even if Joe ain’t the greatest of singers.

“Closer” isn’t really a ballad, more of a blues, featuring some smokin’ Joe guitar.  It’s good to have some Aero-blues on a well balanced album, although I think the melody leaves a bit to be desired.  This goes straight into the organ intro of “Something”, which is another bluesy number, and Joe’s second lead vocal.  Better than “Closer”, this one really hits the spot.

“Another Last Goodbye” is the fifth ballad.  It’s a basic Steve piano ballad, and I don’t mind this one either.  It sounds sincere and has a live vibe.   This is what a song like “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” should have been.

That ends the album proper, but the deluxe edition has a cool bonus disc.  A really cool bonus disc, well worth buying.

“Up on the Mountain” is a great little number featuring Tom on lead vocals with Steven backing him. Then Joe gets a third lead vocal on the incredible “Oasis in the Night”.  Lots of lap steel here.  This sounds like something that Joe might play on his front porch on a hot summer night.  Just a cool tune.  Finally, “Sunny Side of Love” is a melodic Aerosmith tune that probably should have been on the album proper, replacing some of the weaker songs.

Aside from Carrie Underwood, there are a slew of guest appearances that you can’t even hear — Johnny Depp, Julian Lennon, and so on.  Who cares?  Nobody buys an Aerosmith album because Johnny Depp is on it.

There’s a DVD too with live stuff on it.  Typical live Aerosmith, it’s nice to have something recent, this is just an added bonus.  Nothing really “must-have” here.

I think Music From Another Dimension!‘s biggest weakness is its length.  15 songs (+3) could easily have been trimmed to 10 (or 13).  When you trim the fat though, it’s a solid…

4/5 stars

And now, without further delay, here’s Tommy!

Aerosmith_-_MFAD

AEROSMITH – Music From Another Dimension! (standard edition)

It’s been eleven years since the last Aerosmith studio album, 2001’s Just Push Play (and there’s also been the 2004 covers album Honkin’ On Bobo) which was really a product of its time with the band collaborating with producers that gave them a clean modern pop sound. This time around they brought back producer Jack Douglas who worked on some of the band’s best albums in the 1970’s. With the inner problems in the band and the near breakup, Steven Tyler doing American Idol fans were beginning to wonder if there was any recording going. It took a long time but Aerosmith’s 15th studio album, Music From Another Dimension is here. Initially the band said it would be a throwback to Toys in the Attics (1975) and Rocks (1976) and there are glimpses of that, but there’s also glimpses of the 80’s and 90’s Aerosmith too and a LOT of ballads. It’s as if all eras of the band are blended in one album and that’s their sound in 2012. I got to hand it to them, for a band of men in their 60’s there’s some pretty rocking material here, and I find that the band does vocal harmonies quite a lot this time around and it’s working rather well (actually they sound like they wouldn’t be out of place on a Def Leppard album). There’s some good but to me it’s an overall underwhelming Aerosmith album.

The ups with MFAD are the strong rock tracks. In fact the album starts off rather with a string of three solid rock songs. “LUV XXX” starts out with a spoken intro before kicking it into high gear, I wish the entire album was like this, it’s genuinely one of the best Aerosmith songs that’s been done since the 1970’s. It has that vibe from Toys/Rocks era and it’s fantastic. “Beautiful” is commercial Aerosmith at its best, it’s catchy, the vocal harmonies are excellent and the songs is very likeable as a whole. “ Legendary Child“ is a Grip a Grip era song that never saw the light of day. I was intrigued at first and when I listened to it I thought to myself “this could work”, and it does it rocks and it’s catchy enough I really like this one. “Can’t Stop Loving You” with Carrie Underwood is puzzling, having her on an Aerosmith album is obviously not going too well with some of the fans and it’s just not that good of a duet. “This Could Have Been Love” was chosen as the single and no surprise, it’s a ballad. I actually like this one, even if it’s a 1990’s Aero ballad rehash sounding or cheesy or sappy, I can acknowledge all of this but it still works for what is. “Street Jesus” has more of a classic rock edge to it, with even some jamming parts and the result is a longer, more vintage sounding track that works fairly well, it’s one of those the hardcore fans will enjoy the most. The Joe Perry sung track “Freedom Fighter” is one of the best songs on this album for me, it’s got a good Perry riff and even thought his voice isn’t particularly great the song manages to rocks.”Another Last Goodbye” is a fitting ballad to end the album with but it’s overshadowed by the fact that there are too many other ballads to truly stand out.

The first half of the album, I have generally good things to say about and it sounds promising and it makes you think that yes, maybe Aerosmith has some of the old rock sound we love back and it’s going to be an entire album like this. Then there’s the second side, filled with ballads and it really breaks the album’s flow. A big part of the problem is that the album suffers from the too much ballads syndrome that was present on albums like Get A Grip, and they sound mostly like 1990’s Aerosmith ballads. Six/seven (depending on who you ask) ballads on an album is just too much, and I like ballads but these are for the most part just sappy and rehashed songs that they’ve already done, except not as good or passionate. There’s just no overlooking that many ballads is overkill. The worst part is a duet with Carrie Underwood, no offense but what’s she doing on an Aerosmith album? Especially one which was reported as “back to their roots”. I found some of the lyrics here to be the band’s most juvenile yet, which is rather humorous coming from men in their sixties. Then again the album has 15 tracks, maybe a little too much and if they removed some of the ballads and Diane Warren songs (still using outside writers it seems) it would have come across as a tighter effort, it comes across as a modern version of Get A Grip (some good rock songs, plenty of ballads and it has over 14 songs and an outtake from that album as well) . Most of those ballads sound like they’re trying to be part II of “Amazing”, “Crying” or “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing”. 15 songs may just be a little too much, if they cut some of it down it would have made for a shorter, tighter more Rock album, that’s my take on it.

Like many fans, it’s hard for me to hide my disappointment. Still better than Just Push Play that’s for sure, but I expected more from the hype Aerosmith had around this release. There are things to like but some that . I listened to it a few times by now and I can honestly say my rating is a 2 ‘ out of 5. Some of the Rock tracks are reminiscent of classic Aerosmith and energy charged tunes but overall it comes off as an album that didn’t know what direction it wanted to take. There have been some great releases by Classic bands this year, but sadly Aerosmith’s is not one of them I’m afraid.

2/5 stars

tommy