The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world


Dot | Release Date: July 15 2016


BOOKS & DVD'S 2009-2014 

After listening to Tyler’s first singles from this his debut solo album and as a long-time fan of Aerosmith I wasn’t as much shocked as appalled as he proceeded to, as I saw it, dismantle his legend for what could only be described as horseshit dressed up in the shiny modern day Nashville-isms.


Sure it looked like a cynical shot at, fuck I don’t even know, being relevant to the ‘me-generation’ who watch that awful show or shifting a few albums to a country market that thinks that people like Garth Brooks are to rock and roll.


After listening to the actual album which let me first of all say that, unlike a lot of reviews who chirp that ‘there’s something for everyone’, there isn’t anything here that isn’t either a leap backwards or at best a half-hearted, begrudging nod to where Tyler has come from. It’s almost as if he’s scared to do something real and meaningful and instead has rolled around in the fields gathering shit to dump on a new audience. That is disrespectful to both old fans and new listeners.


Tyler could, when you look at his pedigree, have put out one of the best solo albums from a rock front man ever, I mean look at that history, look at all those influences he’s recounted many, many times, and that voice! Instead he’s gone for the payoff and produced an album memorable for only its mediocracy – it’s almost a post-modern statement that say ‘look how fucked music is in 2016, it’s even taking down the last real rock stars as is eschews real pride and passion for faux-Nashville  lukewarm radio dribble.


Don’t get me wrong Steven Tyler is one of my all-time heroes; his voice was the one I grew up listening to when no one in the UK seemed to be bothered by the American behemoth that was Aerosmith. Those 70’s albums were golden; hell I even liked the Perry-less ‘Rock and a Hard Place’ which I guess is secretly where I hoped he’d go at least in part with this one.

It’s hard to know where to start with the songs, maybe the glimmers of hope? I mean there are so few after all.  But here we go: opener ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ isn’t the worst song here, stripped back the opening words “I could blame Jesus, I could blame Mama, I could blame Brahma, for all the bull that’s in my head” seems rather prophetic of the ‘bull’ that is to come. It’s a limp ballad that could have been so very much more.  The title track is probably the only song that hints at fun, a sort of funked up country song that seems unfinished and could have done with a little less sheen and a lot more grit, ultimately though it too is unrewarding.


On other cuts Tyler just seems lacklustre despite the odd cheeky lyric and consistently solid, if restrained, vocals. ‘Hold On (Won’t Let Go)’ could have been a great dirty bluesy standard but despite glimmers just trails off to nowhere despite a great blast of bluesy harmonica. Similarly the ballad ‘It Ain’t Easy’ could have been a latter-day Aerosmith staple were it not for the limp ‘Countrification’ and again lack of real hook or bite. It’s a similar story throughout.  


The real issue with the collection though is that instead of seeking to bring the Rock to Nashville and inject a bit of life Tyler instead seeks to sample the worst of Modern day Nashville inclinations to a faux-don-home feel worst of all on tracks like ‘Red White and You’ which seems like the sort of song even Kid Rock would throw in the reject pile.  Just to rub it in ‘sweet Louisiana’ takes it down that road even further. Perhaps the worst offenders in that regard though are ‘Love is Your Name’ and ‘I Make My Own Sunshine’ the first is just awful with all the wrong moves and trite instrumentation thrown in wholesale, and the latter just sounds like a commercial soundtrack waiting to happen, I visibly cringed…


For Aerosmith fans the appearance almost at the end of ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’ might evoke a bit of hope, but  stripping the song back and toning down the original 80’s orchestration just seems to rip away all its charm.


Even more remarkably (though as it’s the final track, not if you’ve listened through the previous 14 cuts) Tyler even manages to suck the life and passion and joy out of the standard ‘Piece of my Heart’, Janis would be reaching for the bottle before crying then presumably laughing her boots off.


When you look at the personnel involved in this release (I won’t name them, but you know who you are!) it’s even more remarkable how limp this release is. There’s plenty to love about Rock music these days and plenty of good Country out there too if that’s your thing. This is an album that presumably will satisfy neither group, just those who love to watch American Idol and Nashville on TV. If Arena Rock is really dead and Country Pop is the new saviour of the record industry then God help us.




by Mark Rockpit



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