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Joe Perry Goes Solo

Aerosmith guitarist steps up to the mike

February 4, 2005 12:00 AM ET

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry will release his self-titled solo album on May 3rd. The thirteen-track blues-rock effort is Perry's first under his own name since 1984's Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker, the third and final release under the Joe Perry Project moniker.

Perry admits that his own mortality was an impetus for finishing the new record. "I had this pile of riffs, but a song really isn't a song until you get lyrics and a melody on it," he says. "I thought, 'If my motorcycle hits a tree, my wife's gonna have nothing to put out.'"

After using three different lead vocalists for the Joe Perry Project albums, the guitarist took on the challenge of singing many of the Joe Perry songs himself. By writing in a lower register, he came up with songs that fit his deep voice, but he doesn't think Steven Tyler's job as Aerosmith singer is in jeopardy. "A lot of my riffs were originally written with Steven in mind," he says. "I work with one of the best rock & roll voices in the world, and my voice isn't anywhere near that.

The album -- which includes eleven Perry originals, including the uptempo single "Shakin' My Cage," plus covers of the Doors' "The Crystal Ship" and Woody Guthrie's "Vigilante Man" -- was recorded in the guitarist's home studio in Boston, a.k.a. "the Boneyard." Engineer Paul Caruso, who has worked on recent Aerosmith records, also served as drummer and co-producer.

Perry does not have plans for a tour to support the album, but that might be good news for Aerosmith fans. "I may end up not having the time," he says. "We're talking about going on the road with Aerosmith in September."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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