Joe Perry turns 60 years of age today. September 10, 1950 was the day Joe was born. I just saw him play the other day (August 18th at Fenway Park). He looked pretty spry to me. Then again I only feel 50 years of age when the alarm rings every morning and I have to climb out of bed. After that I’m EIGHTEEN! and I don’t know what I want…EIGHTEEN! I just don’t know what I want…EIGHTEEN! I gotta get away… I think you get the picture. I never cease to amuse myself in case you hadn’t noticed. And of course I love Alice Cooper too. Sue me…
Joe Perry and Aerosmith were the coolest bleepin’ band of the early 70′s. And technically I’m not even from Boston….until I lived here 32 years that is. They had dirty filthy sloppy grooves that teenagers like me couldn’t get enough of. It was a bit of a bummer that Steven Tyler was perceived as a Mick Jagger knockoff, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I didn’t even know they were from Boston via New Hampshire until I showed up here in 1978. The battle for Boston’s number one local act was in high gear. The J. Geils Band, The Cars, Aerosmith and even the band Boston were staking claims. There was a tremendous undercurrent of bands trying to move into the big leagues of Rock like Robin Lane & The Chartbusters, Mission of Burma, The Real Kids, The Nervous Eaters, Willie “Loco” Alexander & The Boom Boom Band, The Lyres, The Neighborhoods, The Atlantics, The Del Fuegos, Human Sexual Response, La Peste, Unnatural Axe, Classic Ruins, Thrills, The Neats, The Stompers, Down Avenue, The Outlets….it was pretty incredible.
I didn’t know anything about these “B” bands until I got here, but the support WBCN showed these bands definitely schooled me in a hurry. Some of them lasted longer than they should have, but some of them are still kicking to this day…albeit in broken service form. At Emerson College, my totally awesome Alma Mater, a building called Fensgate located at 534 Beacon Street used to host concerts way back in 1979. I didn’t always attend them, but some pretty big names played there. If I was trained to play an instrument I’ll bet my priorities would have been much different. I missed some killer shows for peanuts in my own backyard. Looooo – ser.
Unfortunately the need to be the biggest baddest druggiest American Band on the planet splintered Aerosmith and stole a few years of their absolute prime, but they somehow endure through all kinds of infighting. The truth is Tyler & Perry need each other and their collective Rock & Roll worth is greater than the sum of them apart. It’s not the first duo (no slight intended to Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer and Brad Whitford intended here whatsoever…Aerosmith wouldn’t be Aerosmith without ‘em) to struggle without their partner and it won’t be the last. But neither man could pull off a Paul Simon (sans Art Garfunkel) and they always seem to eventually gravitate reluctantly back to one another. Thank God.
I was working at WBCN as a glorified gopher back when Aerosmith tried to soldier on without a disgruntled Joe Perry by releasing the 1982 LP Rock in a Hard Place. Even though the record wasn’t half bad led by the lead single “Lightning Strikes,” it didn’t sell well. Meanwhile The Joe Perry Project was cranking out records every year or so from 1980-1983. 1980′s Let The Music Do The Talking was first out of the chute followed by 1981′s I’ve Got The Rock ‘N’ Rolls Again. In 1983 Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker was the last of a straight Joe Perry Project threesome before Aerosmith made another attempt to make it back. For most folks of my generation and ilk, the Aerosmith of 1970-1976 was unimpeachable. If they had packed it in right there they’d still be in my own personal Hall of Fame. Throw in 1977′s Draw The Line, 1979′s Night in The Ruts, 1985′s Done With Mirrors, 1987′s Permanent Vacation and 1989′s Pump and you have all the Aerosmith you need. If that sounds harsh I was being kind to a couple of those later releases. Done With Mirrors was their comeback record and it was universally thought of as a flop at the time, but I loved it. Aerosmith is probably not in my top 20 bands lifetime, but they have some songs that I never ever get tired of listening to and I’m not talking about “Walk This Way.” They are, and have been for the last twenty years, much too polished for me now. I bought every single record, but that’s mostly because I’m a completest. I just really have very little use for ballads. You want a good ballad? I love Def Leppard’s “Hysteria.” That’s my style…definitely NOT “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing.” Anyway…
I find the Joe Perry Project years curious. I didn’t pay them much mind at the time, but I find myself playing them from time to time these days. It’s just such a long time ago, but it was my youthful exuberance at being around a real Rock station (WBCN); I feel like I remember almost every record that surfaced during that special time. Joe Perry’s records were in something called a “B” (usually local) bin initially, but some of the tracks made it all the way into the “Core” library. It was fun guessing which ones would make it to the big time and which ones would require one of the jock’s hourly free picks (one) to get played ever again. In summary though, Tyler couldn’t function without Joe Perry and while Perry could technically function without Steven Tyler the results were mixed. I’m going to leave you with a few Joe Perry Project tracks for fun today, but nothing tops Aerosmith (1973), Get Your Wings (1974), Toys in The Attic (1975) and Rocks (1976). “One Way Street, Spaced, Adam’s Apple and Combination” are the real core Aerosmith. I played the living crap out of those records before I ever stepped foot in Boston in 1978. Happy birthday Joe Perry from The Giant Panther.
Buy or Download The Best of Joe Perry: The Music Still Does The Talking from Amazon here.