"Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith" (Simon & Schuster; 2014)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Joe Perry is one half of the toxic twins that made Aerosmith one of the greatest bands on the planet. In Perry's "Rocks: My Life In and out of Aerosmith," you'll read about how he originally wanted to become a marine biologist but then he heard the sound of electric guitars and his future was re-routed. There are plenty of pictures throughout the book that show Joe with Aerosmith and when he broke off to form The Joe Perry Project.

Joe was born into a solid family and he always listened to his parents until it was time to rebel. When that time came, he did it with a guitar and guts and created some of the most timeless guitar licks ever heard. You'll get first hand accounts of how Aerosmith struggled to get noticed as a band and how they fought their long time manager to keep the band from imploding. Drugs were a dark part of Aerosmith and it took the band coming together to get clean. Joe is honest about how he saw things and it's refreshing to hear him take responsibility for the highs and lows of his life. He doesn't really talk about his relationships with the other band members in detail although he does mention Steven Tyler ... but this book is more about Joe's life.

This book not only tells the story of Joe Perry but the story of Aerosmith from Joe's vantage point. It's a candid and personal look at a class act guitar player who still straps on his guitar because he was born to play. You'll get some inside information about how they teamed up with Run DMC and created rap rock. You'll also read about how his wife was his support system when he didn't have anybody else to lean on.

Fans of Joe Perry will dig the honesty and how a kid who grew up in the country still finds his solace when he's back home in Massachusetts.

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"Have Guitar, Will Travel" (Roman Records; 2009)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Five times since 1980, Joe Perry has stepped away from the mega corporate entity that is Aerosmith and set out making music of his own. In his latest endeavor, "Have Guitar Will Travel," Joe has delivered a powerful recording. 

The music not only features strong guitar, but it's a strong rock'n'roll presentation from beginning to end. Thankfully, Joe did not sing on all of the tracks here. Joe is, without a doubt, a world class guitarist, but his vocals are a bit weak. 

One of the most interesting aspects of this CD is that some of the music on this recording could have been performed on an Aerosmith album, had they been sung by Steven Tyler. I think that after decades of writing music together, some of Tyler rubbed off on Perry (and probably vice versa). 

I remember when Joe Perry released his first solo project back in 1980. I liked that recording and I like this one just as well. 

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"Joe Perry" (Columbia; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry has gone solo before but this, his 2005 self-titled solo album, takes things to an entirely different place.

While earlier Joe Perry projects sounded more like an Aerosmith album with Perry in charge, "Joe Perry" is a bluesier, raunchier collection of rock'n'blues tunes that sound more like George Thorogood, Johnny Cash or ZZ Top than Aerosmith. It's Perry playing what he wants to play and the result, while sometimes uneven, is never boring.

This self-titled CD starts out with its first single, "Shakin' My Cage," a song that apparently shares its main riff with Thorogood's "Gear Jammer." Track 2, "Hold on Me," rolls out the thickest of ZZ Top-type riffs while track 3, "Pray For Me," starts with a sound that could be the soundtrack for a snake charmer and then morphs into a smooth ballad.

And so it goes. Perry's obviously not afraid of stretching his wings here and it's that devil may care flare that keeps the CD interesting. Most of the songs here rely strongly on guitar and that's a good thing. Although Perry probably sounds better here on vocals than he has in the past, he's still an okay vocalist at best. The songs on "Joe Perry" lean heavily on six string swing and that's where Perry truly shines.

A pair of covers here are tweaked to Perry's style to the point that they no longer sound much like covers. The Doors' "Crystal Ship" gets an almost Elvis-like funk to it while Woody Guthrie's "Vigilante Man" becomes a theme for a motorcycle gang movie.

Like Aerosmith's highly underrated "Honkin' on Bobo," "Joe Perry" finds its namesake exploring the boundaries between rock'n'roll and blues and finding much to celebrate and enjoy.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2015 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Aug 2022 15:32:20 -0400.