Guitar Legend Joe Perry Releases New Solo CD: Sweetzerland Manifesto

Aerosmith was the first band that I ever loved, and they remain my sentimental favorite to this day. However, it was the guitar prowess, the look and vibe, and the attitude of guitarist Joe Perry that, at age 13, really struck my imagination and solidified my music-listening foundation. “Joe Perry is my Elvis,” has always been a favorite line of mine. So, with that said, readers should probably take this review with a grain of (rock) salt, for JP really does no wrong in my book.


Review and photos of CD by Joe Milliken

Recorded in Perry’s Boston home studio, The Boneyard, Sweetzerland Manifesto features nine original tracks, plus a cover of the 60s song “Eve of Destruction.” The CD is produced by Perry and Bruce Witkin, with assistance from Johnny Depp and the legendary (Aerosmith) producer, Jack Douglas, and engineered by Witkin and Joe’s son, Tony.

The opening “Rumble In The Jungle” is a monstrous instrumental full of atmospheric tribal chants and deep beats (courtesy of Jack Douglas’ son, Colin), like a rock-and-roll beast stomping through the landscape... and of course, with screaming JP guitar riffs smoldering underneath, until a biting lead solo flies overhead.

“I’ll Do Happiness” is a slinky, down-and-dirty rocker co-written with and featuring the raspy vocal strains of veteran vocalist Terry Reid. The song romps and stomps along and features Zak Starkey (yes, Ringo’s son) on drums and JP on guitars and a fuzz-tone, six-string bass.

“Aye, Aye, Aye” is a punchy rocker co-written with and featuring old friend and Cheap Trick front-man, Robin Zander, who transforms his usual pristine Cheap Trick vocal delivery into a deeper, rougher vibe that really emphasizes the direction of this blistering old-school track. Cheap Trick has always been one of Joe's favorite bands and Zander's high energy shines through brightly.

The band slows it down for “I Wanna Roll,” a slinky, bluesy number co-written with and featuring another old friend David Johansen (New York Dolls) on lead vocal. But the message here is different from your typical “blues” song, for it’s a slow-burn of love and feelings for that one person, but not without a closing, dark-twinge in the line “I wanna roll (with you), I wanna see you cryin’ when I die.” (Woah) The track features Starkey on drums and Joe’s son Roman on synthesizer and programming.

“Sick and Tired” is the early front-runner for my favorite track on the album. A steady rhythm-rocker that features another gravely vocal from Reid - in which he seems to be tapping into his inner Captain Beefheart! – and a simply infectious Perry riff and clear message... “I’m sick and fucking tired, of what you think is wrong!”

Joe’s “muffled” solo here is reminiscent to me, of Jimmy Page’s “Fool In The Rain” solo... just a stream of consciousness thing that I so often feel in Perry’s solos. He’s not really thinking about it, but rather, just feeling it. Just one of those songs that, as it fades away, you’re thinking that you don’t want the groove to end.

“Haberdash Blues,” as you might guess, is a low-down blues-rocker, featuring another Johansen vocal and some classic harmonica riffs, Joe’s son Tony on rhythm guitar and Rudy Tanzi on the Hammond B3 organ. Not to mention more smokin’ blues-guitar from the Admiral.

Up next is “Spanish Sushi.” It’s one of those instrumentals that I always hope for whenever JP releases a new solo album, and he always delivers! I believe Joe simply gets a groove going, in order to sit on top and jam the hell out of it! This exercise is reminiscent of previous JP instrumentals such as “Break Song,” “Bone To Bone (original instrumental),” “Twilight,” “Mercy,” and “Wooden Ships.”

Joe’s cover of the aforementioned 60s classic “Eve of Destruction” reveals his own low-tone vocal, leading into the fun-rocking “I’m Going Crazy,” another track co-written and sung by Johansen. Featuring yet another tasty Perry solo, the track loosens things up into some kind of foot-stompin’, barroom feel.

The CD-closing “Don’t Let Me Go” is a rapid-fire, no-nonsense track written with Reid and Douglas, that seemingly brings it all back home in a culmination of hard rock vibes and guitar-driven grooves that you would only come to expect from one of rock’s true guitar heroes... and "my Elvis.” Please visit The Admiral, Joe Perry, at www.joeperry.com
Editor's Note: Also watch for an upcoming "Joe Perry & Friends" concert review.