The man, the myth, the legend, the errr….rhinestones?
When reports emerged earlier this year the Steven Tyler – at the age of 68 – had decided to wrap his scarf around a solo album and turn his back on Aerosmith’s plans to tour this summer and go on the road all by himself (the jaunt, not or nothing, is called the Out On A Limb tour) his bandmates weren’t too impressed.
And, lets not be coy about this, when it was discovered that he was in Nashville recording what was ostensibly at least, a country record, it wasn’t just Brad Whitford who said (give or take some swear words): “He’s down there wearing a rhinestone hat or whatever, I don’t know what to think about that.”But then, as Shooter Jennings observed on his 2011 track “Outlaw You” Hey pretty boy in the baseball hat/You couldn’t hit country with a baseball bat/Country ain’t just about where you’re at/It’s about bein’ true to what’s inside.
So maybe, just maybe over 40 years of fronting one of the most iconic, brilliant, and yeah, occasionally downright infuriating rock bands on Planet Earth has bought him the right for some self-indulgence?
And dammit if the wonderful old sod hasn’t all but pulled it off.
The first thing to say is that “We’re All Somebody From Somewhere” is far from perfect – for a kick off like Slash’s last one its way too long and there’s a hell of a lot of filler here. The second point to make is that its not – even allowing for a shed load of lap – a country record, country infused, yes, out and out country, no.
But that barely matters, because when he gets it right, Tyler has done a fine job here – and he gets it right often. “My Own Worst Enemy” strikes the right mournful note of a regretful bloke at 3am, over an accordion flavoured chorus, “Love Is Your Name” is the kind of mid-paced radio friendly thing that modern day Bon Jovi would kill to have in their arsenal, and “Somebody New” is knowingly countrified. “The Good, The Bad The Ugly And Me” is perhaps closest to his day job, but adds a kind of Dan Baird stomp and any song that contains the line “you ain’t no Tina Turner, get your Nutbush City on” can’t be bad, right? And whilst lead song “Red, White And You” was mocked by Joe Perry, but MV – although it doffs its cap to that half of the Toxic Twins – knows a killer chorus when it is delivered.
There’s a couple of pretty decent ballads too, “It Ain’t Easy” is a real tear-jerker, “Only Heaven” is massive but “What Am I Doing Right” is better and the version of “Piece Of My Heart” isn’t bad at all.
If that’s the good, the cod funk of the title track doesn’t quite work and “I Make My Own Sunshine” is so annoying it could be used on an advert on daytime TV for payday loans, and the cover of “Janie’s Got A Gun” is unforgivable.
In the midst of all this comes a dark, bluesy affair called “Hold On (Won’t Let Go”)” which is Tyler as you’ve never heard him before, but moreover proves why he should have made this record. Why shouldn’t he stretch himself? On “We’re All Somebody From Somewhere” he’s done that, and overall he’s done it well.
It’s not “Pump”, its not “Rocks” and Tyler’s not going to fill arenas with this. That though, was never the point and he’s made a record he can be proud of.