Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

One Way Street: A Tribute To Aerosmith

(No official website)
Style: hard rock, heavy metal, classic rock, tribute
Label: Shrapnel
Year: 2001
Home: n/a

Members: Joe Lynn Turner, Tim "Ripper" Owens, Jeff Scott Soto, Whitfield Crane, Glenn Hughes, Bobby Kimball, Jack Russell, Doug Pinnick, Robin McAuley, John Corabi, Fee Waybill ~ vocals
Doug Aldrich, Al Pitrelli, Reb Beach, Steve Lukather, Blues Saraceno, Bruce Kulick, Stevie Salas, Craig Goldy, Richie Kotzen, Elliot Easton, Waddy Wachtel ~ guitars
Jeff Pilson, Tony Franklin, Carmine Rojas, Michael Porcaro, Tim Bogert, Jason Scheff, John Alderete, Jimmy Haslip, Marco Mendoza, Jimmy Bain, Phil Sousson ~ bass
Carmine Appice, Eric Singer, Frankie Banali, Pat Torpey, Rick Morotta, Tony Thompson, Aynsley Dunbar, Brian Tichy, Vinnie Colaiuta, Gregg Bissonette, Vinny Appice ~ drums
Derek Sherinian, Paul Taylor ~ keyboards

Additional: David Glen Eisley, Alex Ligertwood ~ b. vocals
Bob Kulick, Bruce Bouillet ~ guitars
Scott Walton ~ keyboards


With guitarist Bob Kulick producing & former Yesman Billy Sherwood doing some engineering, this is an all-star tribute album in every way. As for the musical way ... some tribute albums call upon bands to submit tracks by a particular artist or to submit songs that come under a theme. Other tribute albums, quite often with Kulick in the production chair well by choice or label favorite, take the different & more exciting approach of bringing together musicians & randomly pairing them up to record a single track. The unpredictability factor is exponentially increased, as while we may know how a certain musician, such as a recognizable singer or guitarist, is with a certain backing band or producing their own music, the question now is how are they with musicians they may or may not know, with someone else producing & with someone else's material that may or may not be a good fit? The outcome isn't always pretty, but certainly interesting. In this case the album on the whole has as many highs & lows as any other tribute album - tribute albums generally being like concept albums in that the idea is often better than the uneven output - but at least here you can never predict what will come next & more than once the outcome is shocking & sometimes on par with the original songs. That being said, should a tribute album aim to be better than the originals it is copying or is that even a silly question to ask, let alone egotistical? Or, should it aim for duplication of known songs but with different musicians in an attempt to recreate the original song? Or, should it aim for reinvention of old songs & brave bold new directions? Or, should a musician try to be like who they are copying, dulling down their own style, versus putting their own style on the song molding it to them instead of them to it? It's hard to answer any of these questions. Sometimes a song is copied so well one believes imitation is the best approach, other times reinvention creates startling effects & makes that approach the winner. Should one aim for better? That's probably never the goal, but let's be honest that Marilyn Manson improved upon "Tainted Love" with his own stamp on the Soft Cell electro-pop version, which greatly improved upon the now forgotten disco original. This is certainly a case for reinvention & for remolding the song to one's style. Though, the real answer probably comes down to how good the song is. Did the musicians, whatever their approach, create a good song worthy of a few listens? That's ultimately the goal of music & if achieved then all is well. Sometimes a project like this is laced with the goal of duplication, but here with Kulick there's no such requirement or at least while there is some imitation Kulick is as open to experimentation, making sure only that the style of music remains hard rock or heavy metal. The best songs on this album are those where imitation is second to taking the song as one's own. The differences rate higher than the imitation in this setting ... which, to note, is not always the case with tribute albums where a band that's not very good plays other people's songs not very good. The forgotten early 80's hit, originally recorded by the Joe Perry Project, "Let The Music Do The Talking" features dueling guitars all courtesy of Al Pitrelli of Trans-Siberian Orchestra/Savatage in one of his rare recordings playing slide guitar, with regular musical partner Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow on vocals. JLT is nothing like Aerosmith's Steven Tyler & that might be what makes this a strong track as comes off as a bluesy rock romp far different than it's original. A third guitar even gets overdubbed in one of Al's more under-rated recording moments. A highlight of the album. The obscure "Round & Round" features a thick guitar solo by Reb Beach of Winger & now Whitesnake that's heavier & more technically challenging than Aerosmith have ever been. He is a little experimental like Joe Perry tends to be, but with a more unified sound. Perry often gets lost in the world of overdubs & guitars cascading against each other losing sight of where the solo is going. Beach keeps it in focus & between him & Pitrelli create two standout tracks. Tim "Ripper" Owens puts in some slightly distorted vocals for a raunchy take on that end of the song, but not raunchy in the way Aerosmith is. Eric Singer contributes a strong drum part, but bad mixing sadly put the emphasis on the high-hat when it would be better to hear more low-end. "Cryin" features Jeff Scott Soto who might be the most close in vocal match to Steven Tyler with all the little nuances found in the original vocal line. It's a spooky vocal interpretation & others I've played this track for agree. Move over Steven, we have a successor for your weary voice. Though on guitar it's all the trademark Bob Kulick overindulgent thick guitar rhythms that don't always work well. "Kings & Queens" is completely transformed by Glenn Hughes' tenor vocals that give it almost a Genesis a la Peter Gabriel feeling against Paul Taylor's piano lines & Steve Lukather's restrained guitar. Another must hear. "One Way Street" with vocalist Doug Pinnick, like "Kings & Queens", is given a surprisingly new life & one that is very funky. It sounds nothing like Aerosmith & worth hearing. Non-essential listening includes "Eat The Rich", which is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek song but here done seriously & ends up sounding like an imitation but heavier with bassist Jeff Pilson & current Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich. But, tongue-in-cheek turned into heavy wannabe raunch falls on its face for so many reasons. The classic "Rats In The Cellar" sounds like an undistinctive garage band doing a cover in their garage, while "Living On The Edge" is a bit of a psychedelic rock take on a pop song that doesn't go anywhere & probably is another garage band trying to be something they're not. Dream Theater's Derek Sherinian on keyboards does little for the imitative "What It Takes", while under-rated guitarist Blues Saraceno turns in some smooth lines on "Angel" by it's all by the book for the rest of the song. "Lord Of The Thighs" sounds like a wannabe black metal song with vocalist Whitfield Crane, but all is weighed down by the obligatory appearance of producer Kulick's brother Bruce on guitar but his riffs don't match the heaviness that the song is reaching for. In the end this is a better tribute than average. The guitarists & vocalists to no surprise dominate & the Kulick trademark guitar sound is laced all over the place, to its detriment & cluttering. The diversity of old & new, familiar & not so much, songs is a nice bonus. Of note Kulick has also done tributes to Queen, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Cher, Shania Twain, Iron Maiden, Beatles, Christmas & Frank Sinatra. This Aerosmith tribute might be one of his best.

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