Back in 1973 a friend of mine brought me record to listen to because he thought it was great. The album was entitled Aerosmith. I wasn't overly impressed. I was too much of a purist to like their lame version of "Walking the Dog." Over the years I began to realize that their original compositions were really worth listening to. Aerosmith's Raucous, Boisterous style is perfectly suited to the rock-blues style. On this CD the artists capture the bluesier side of Aerosmith's composition. There is a quote from lead singer Steven Tyler on the cover that begins with "The blues are our f***in' roots."
Of the 14 songs on the CD there are two songs that are not original Tyler-Perry compositions. "Big Ten Inch Record" and "Train Kept A Rollin'" are included because they are fan favorites that people associate with the band.
As with most of the CD's that are tributes, the musicians capture their own essence in the particular song. There is no mistaking soul man Otis Clay's rugged pleading vocals in any song he tackles. Appropriately enough he does a great job on the Aerosmith composition entitled "Crying.".
My Favorite song on Sweet Emotion is only 54 seconds long. It is "Walk This Way(Intro)." Ronnie Baker Brooks plays this blistering but down-home guitar solo prior to the full band jumping in. "Walk This Way" swings in a way that is entirely different than the original Aerosmith or the hit by Run-DMC.
Kim McFarland takes the Aerosmith classic "Dream On" and makes it a gospel raver. She belts out the chorus and her choir helps bring the song to a rousing crescendo at the end.
The biggest surprise is a vocal turn by Lou Gramm. Gramm of course is the vocalist of the rock band Foreigner. On the song "Back in the Saddle Again" he sounds like a tried and true bluesman. It doesn't hurt that he is ably backed by blues stalwarts Sugar Blue(harmonica)and Alex Schultz(guitars). Coming in a close second(and with some of the same backing musicians) on the list of pleasant surprises on this CD is a vocal by Marshall Crenshaw. Again he doesn't sound like aging rocker, but sounding better than anything done previously. In fact I like his version better than Aerosmith's.
The CD jacket has detailed note on each song as well as informative information about each contributing artist. There is some historical information about Aerosmith, and just as much about the BLUES ON FIRE series of this disc is a part of.
You might rationalize and say that when you have some great bluesians like Honeyboy Edwards, Pinetop Perkins, Joe Louis Walker, Donald Kinsey, Lou Ann Barton, Joanna Connor, and Tad Robinson how can you go wrong? I've heard some all-star tributes before and they didn't quite gel. It appears as if the recording and engineering were done at the same studio with the same rhythm section on all the songs. These factors contribute to the overall consistent, cohesive sound but keeping the unique flavor of each artist.
I can hardly think of a better rock-blues band than Aerosmith to do cover songs. The bluesians do the songs their way but keep the spirit of Aerosmith on every number. One need not be familiar with Aerosmith's repertoire to like Sweet Emotion. You'd like it regardless.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Putnay Thomas, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.