Joe Perry's 'Sweetzerland Manifesto' Isn't Quite a Substitute for an Aerosmith Album

While it won't make you forgot about Aerosmith's best work, Sweetzerland Manifesto is better than one might expect.

Sweetzerland Manifesto
Joe Perry


19 Jan 2018

Since 2009 Aerosmith have toured every year. However, in that same time, they have been mostly dormant in the studio putting out just one studio album, 2012's Music From Another Dimension received to mixed reviews. The rest of the band has mostly chilled out while lead singer Steven Tyler explored and developed "Brand Tyler", which encompasses an autobiography (Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?), solo album (We're All Somebody from Somewhere), solo tour, a signature scarf collection, and two seasons as a judge on American Idol. Thus, Tyler has been busy with a number of things, but none of them include new Aerosmith music. Since the last album — some would say the last real Aerosmith album came out somewhere in the '90s or even '70s according to the real purists — reports have emerged of substance abuse relapse, rehab, strained relationships among band members, and even a final tour.

Joe Perry has kept himself busy as well but other than the 2014 autobiography Rocks: My Life in and Out of Aerosmith, he's mostly focused on music. He formed and released an album of originals and covers in 2015 with Hollywood Vampires with Jonnny Depp, Alice Cooper, and a slew of guest musicians. This year brings us Sweetzerland Manifesto, his third solo release since 2009. Given the unevenness of the last few Aerosmith releases and that solo albums can be self-indulgent, lesser versions of the solo artist's main band, Sweetzerland Manifesto has a few things to prove. While it won't make you forgot about Aerosmith's best work, it is better than one might expect.

Perry has assembled a rock 'n' roll village to raise this album. Colin Douglas, son Anthony Perry, Terry Reid, Bruce Witkin, Zak Starkey, Rudy Tanzi, Torald Koren, Isaac Koren, Lind McCrary, and Markita Knight all appear the album — and that's just the first two tracks.

The opening track "Rumble in the Jungle" lays down some heavy percussion before breaking into some catchy straight-ahead leads. Although it's more an instrumental exploration than a song with defined sections, it works as an opening track, and it would be interesting if more of the album followed this direction. "I'll Do Happiness" is a more conventional track. Reid's vocals are sufficient, but they do make you wish for Tyler's wail and rough touch. "Aye, Aye, Aye" with Robin Zander signing offers up more of the same. Just when you might wonder if the album has settled into a pattern of mid-tempo rockers, "I Wanna Roll" comes along with a more introspective Dylan-esque feel and a gentle mid-song instrumental section. "Sick & Tired" returns to the rock formula.

The second half of the album begins with harmonica kicking off "Haberdasher Blues", a slowed-down roadhouse number with David Johansen singing about how "Everything's gonna be alright / This Mornin'". "Spanish Sushi" is an instrumental featuring Perry and his two sons playing around with vaguely Eastern sounds and blues. "Eve of Destruction" is a rolling cover of the P.F. Sloan tune. Recalling latter-day Johnny Cash, Perry's takes the lead vocals. "I'm Going Crazy" and "Won't Let Me Go" finish out the album. While it never hits a stone cold groove or really cuts loose, Sweezerland Manifesto makes a strong case that Aerosmith can drop the pop sheen and ditch the reliance on ballads.

At ten songs, Sweetzerland Manifesto doesn't overstay its welcome and Perry's guitar never becomes overindulgent. It's not exactly the lost or delayed classic Aerosmith album we have all been yearning for, but it doesn't sound like a thrown together collection of wannabe or rejected Aerosmith songs. Neither does it sound quite like a full, finished band in its own right, though it does have its own identity. However, it's something to help tide over Aerosmith fans and a demonstration that whatever the holdup is with making new Aerosmith music, it doesn't seem to be Joe Perry.





12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.


Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."


David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.


On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.


Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.


Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.


Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."


How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.