HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

JOE PERRY
Have Guitar, Will Travel (Roman)

Very weird how indie this thing is, and I'm kinda bummed that if you're gonna tour as The Joe Perry Project (Let The Music Do The Talking is every bit as good as any Aerosmith album), man, bring back more of that band other than just David Hull. Vocalist Hagen does a great job (live and on the record), but again, a hoary old American who's a peer of Joe's... that always helps underscores the classic rock, don't it? Production, there's an irritating lack of treble, again, that indie thing, it seems. O'er to the songs, I love that Joe still wants to write, and rock, and essentially use conventional instrumentation. Opener 'We've Still Got A Long Way To Go' and 'Do You Wonder' are highlights, both conceivable as Aerosmith songs, the former including a bit of that down-and-out New York/Johnny Thunders vibe Joe actually lived and lived to tell us about. 'Heaven And Hell' is a righteous track as well, both swampy and proggy at once, again, a little life-worn druggy, but more David Johansen/Mink Deville this time, and 'Scare The Cat' and 'Freedom' rumble along like the hot end of the fiery second JPP album. The more purist blues tracks, I could do without, because there's enough blues and slide and all that on the rockers, and Joe as a singer is still distracting - again, I think there's unlocked potential there, but he's gotta be forced to sing hard, and not this comfortably in his range and with this little air, which causes wobble.
Rating 6

W.A.S.P.
Babylon (Global)

Hey look, how ever long it's taken you, if you dig the totality of Blackie and his very sweat-of-brow, singular, Who-like, strangely alone world of writing and catalogue terrain and just the whole W.A.S.P. trip, the good, the bad, the fringes, the core, the party stuff, the industrial, the conceptual... ball that all up and you've got a personality constructed over the years that just emanates from this album glowingly. There's most definitely a loneliness, like few care or something, like native American Blackie sitting writing in his outpost, and then there's also the weirdness of a 43 minute album with two covers, one a joyous Chuck Berry ('Promised Land' - Babylon; get it?), the other a not-so-hot 'Burn' (following 'Babylon's Burning' - surely you get that). But the originals and the loose concept around them, well, it's hard to resist if at any point you've accept Blackie into your world as a friend, which isn't hard once you get to talk to the guy. This record is so him, and so Headless Children, in that it sort of gets on a seriously epic melodic high horse and then just glides through a rhythm-loving production job, while Blackie's weirdly C&W-inflected vocals lay plaintive these tales that really feel like sorrowful metal written for endtymes. Opener 'Crazy' is pretty much on of the guy's greatest anthems of intent, and 'Seas Of Fire' is gorgeous technical metal, so strong from a songwriting standpoint and one of many examples of this bluesy sense of character to chorus-writing that rendered decadent early W.A.S.P. and a tight satellite of trash hair in the low '80s that made you kind of scared of guys in LA bands. Even the ballads are creepy, or at least uneasily funereal, 'Godless Run' so exquisitely sequenced next to the oddball-ness of 'Promised Land'. I dunno, Babylon is both entertaining and disturbing all over the place, emotions tugged at, and all the more so, because you feel isolated listening to it, just you and this art made for very few people.
Rating 8.5