JOE PERRY – Sweetzerland Manifesto

I won’t get into an introduction about Joe Perry here because if you don’t know who Joe Perry is you probably have lived on the moon for the last century or something. However, Perry’s solo career might have passed some people by as those records haven’t exactly sold millions and trillions and whatnot. Perry’s solo career started when he left Aerosmith back in 1980 and he released three albums under the Joe Perry Project moniker – Let The Music Do The Talkin’ (1980), I’ve Got The Rock ‘n’ Rolls Again (1981) and Once A Rocker, Always A Rocker (1983) before he rejoined Aerosmith for their 1985 album Done With Mirrors. Since Aerosmith haven’t been especially creative when it comes to releasing new music in later years, Perry have decided to be creative on his own instead and released records under his own name. Joe Perry (2005), Have Guitar, Will Travel (2009) and Joe Perry’s Merry Christmas (2014) didn’t exactly set the world on fire but at least they had him working both in the studio and on stage when his day job have been on hiatus. And now there’s a new record out by the legendary guitar player.

Opener “Rumble In The Jungle” is an instrumental groover with African influenced rhythms and chanting as the main melody. The whole tune is very earthy and raw and even somewhat experimental. I find it really cool even though it’s not exactly über-memorable. “I’ll Do Happiness”, a blues-rock stomper that features Jaywalkers singer Terry Reid, is the first song with vocals. The tune is raw and stripped, rough and crispy with dirt under its fingernails. It’s an ok track but it fails to grow on me and it comes out as quite plain. “Aye, Aye, Aye” features Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander and you just can’t go wrong when Zander open his mouth. It’s a kicking rocker, rough and rocking with a big, bad groove and a really catchy vibe all over. The chorus is impossible not to yell along to and I figure this one will be a crowd pleaser live. Killer!

New York Dolls’ David Johansen shows up as the singer for “I Wanna Roll” a song that rolls slow. It’s stripped and down-to-earth, a very plain and simple blues number. That said, it fails to stay in my memory for that long. Reid returns for “Sick & Tired”, a rocking and swinging but at the same time somewhat laid-back rocker. It comes with a big drum groove and it’s very meaty and ballsy and it’s clearly a grower. Yes, I do embrace this tune – very good. “Haberdasher Blues” is, just as the title suggests, a blues number. A very plain and straight forward one. It’s slow, raw, stripped and complete with a harmonica solo. Johansen sings it and it fits his voice well. It’s good without impressing me much. The instrumental “Spanish Sushi” is a stand-out track here. It’s heavy and dark with an eastern arrangement and it reminds me quite the bit of old Rainbow. It’s big and somewhat orchestrated and it’s quite addictive. I can’t help wondering how it would have sounded with vocals but it doesn’t matter as it is a brilliant tune.

Perry takes hold of the vocals himself for the cover of P.F. Sloan’s “Eve Of Destruction”. It is raw, raunchy and rough and at times Perry reminds me of Keith Richards when he sings. Still, it’s just a good tune, no more, no less. Johansen shows up again for “I’m Going Crazy”, a swinging blues groover with a funky rock beat and a very catchy main melody. It’s still very much a plain R&B-stomper and despite its catchiness, I only find the tune ok – it just won’t grow on me. But Perry makes sure he closes the album with a bang. “Won’t Let Me Go” sure rocks things up with its ripping guitars and its raw, hard and aggressive sound that comes with a mighty groove and a refrain that hits right where it should – a real facemelter. Terry Reid also gives it a killer performance vocally.

First, for all Aerosmith fans, this album has fuck-O to do with Aerosmith so don’t expect anything like them. This is a full-blown blues album with twists of both rock’n’ roll and a tiny, tiny bit of hard rock. There are no ballads, no singles and no commercial thinking whatsoever – this album is made by Joe Perry for Joe Perry and hopefully he can pick up some like-minded along the way who will dig this just as much as he does. And I think there are quite a few of them people out there. So if you like your music raw, stripped and down-to-earth then this album is for you. Me, I like the album but I don’t find it great. It’s just ok and I’m pretty sure I can count the times I will have listened to this album when we write 2019 on one hand.

5/10

Tracklist:

1. Rumble In The Jungle (instrumental)
2. I’ll Do Happiness (feat. Terry Reid)
3. Aye, Aye, Aye (feat. Robin Zander)
4. I Wanna Roll (feat. David Johansen)
5. Sick & Tired (feat. Terry Reid)
6. Haberdasher Blues (feat. David Johansen)
7. Spanish Sushi (instrumental)
8. Eve Of Destruction
9. I’m Going Crazy (feat. David Johansen)
10. Won’t Let Me Go (feat. Terry Reid)

 

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