Joe Perry - Joe Perry
Guitar-driven Hard Rock/Rock N'Roll
13 songs (51.22)
Release year: 2005
Reviewed by Elias

A friend of mine once described Aerosmith as being the “embodiment of Rock guitar.” Regardless of accuracy of the word choice, Joe Perry is not only an excellent technical guitar player, but also a lot more interesting to listen to compared to the myriad of analogous, pentatonic-obsessed Rock players out there today. It may be true that Rock is a genre that doesn’t require as much technical virtuosity to play as, say, Progressive Metal, but when it comes songwriting and providing enjoyable playing for guitar players (for I doubt anyone else will buy this album) originality and inventiveness is essential. So how do these elements come across in Joe Perry’s 2005 solo album?

Perry makes one thing very clear right off from the start. The man knows how to rock out, and fuck, does he do it well. The infectious opening riff to Shakin’ My Cage should send you straight to your beat up telecaster over in the corner to try and play it. The guitar work remains consistently catchy and interesting throughout the song, with unexpected little quirks and whistles interspersed between the riffs and an envy inspiring solo. Some of the energy is lost, however, once Perry starts to sing. While in tune, his voice lacks the raw sleaziness that one would automatically expect from hearing this type of playing. It’s very calm, very relaxed, and while it’s not unpleasant to hear, it offers nothing really positive to the music other than perhaps providing a melodic counterpoint to the riffing or some sort of contrast with the energy of the playing.

The singing becomes more problematic on the next song, Hold On Me. While Shakin’ My Cage was riff-driven, on Hold on Me Perry tries to carry the song through on its slightly melodic chorus. However, his lifeless voice causes what little potential it might have had to jump out of the window. Luckily for the listener, Perry saves his ass by managing to keep our attention focused enough on the great guitar work to forget about the vocals. The same thing happens with Pray For Me as well, although the redeeming factor in this case isn’t so much the aggressive riffing but the harmony games he plays, and by the combination of melodic acoustic soloing and oriental melody lines. The solos are, again, the high point of the song.

At this point Perry seems to have realized the risk he is running and compensates by hitting us with a bang- namely, the opening to Can’t Compare. This song is much more traditional Rock, with defined “riff” – “verse” – “interlude” – “chorus” sections. Hence, the guitar is somewhat tame when not playing either a solo or a main riff. Surprisingly, this doesn’t detract from the song as much as it might seem, as Perry manages to come up with a very catchy, very enjoyable vocal line, which almost makes you forget about the guitar until the outro solo hits you in the face. This trend continues with Lonely, which seems to follow somewhat the structure of Shakin’ My Cage, albeit with stronger emphasis on the vocal lines. Nevertheless the riffing is good enough to maintain interest.

And this is where the album falls short. The rest of the songs all seem to follow patterns similar to one another, either being riff-driven, oriented around a single chorus, or an attempt at more mature songwriting with varying melodic lines and intertwining guitar licks. While the guitar work is strong enough and interesting enough to make this a must-buy for any guitar-playing fan, the album lacks severely in songwriting, and some attempts even manage to elicit derision, such as the slightly disco-influenced Push Comes to Shove. Granted, there are some occasions where Perry succeeds in combining attractive guitar work with catchy songwriting, such as the Country sounding Ten Years, or the groovy Vigilante Man.

All in all, this album is a fine piece of Rock guitar work (although not the epitome) and even manages to produce some cute vocal lines despite Perry’s cold voice. I’d recommend this fully to any guitar player, although non-musicians who don’t have a thing for Rock N’Roll might find themselves easily bored. And if you do end up bored with your purchase, Perry has generously provided us with two shots of his wife’s cleavage, airbrushed onto his guitars that feature in the booklet.

Killing Songs :
Shakin' My Cage, Can't Compare
Elias quoted 75 / 100
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