It was with a bit of trepidation that I decided to sit down and watch the documentary Steven Tyler – Out On A Limb. I had heard a few things in the past that simply stated: “Tyler has gone country.” I had also heard some of the grumblings online, saying that Joe Perry wasn’t happy, the fans aren’t happy, nobody is happy. After watching this doc, I can emphatically state that I am happy. Very happy, and a bit disappointed that I hadn’t lent more attention to what Tyler has been doing lately.
Saying that “Tyler has gone country” must be something that’s put out there by the same people who always identify Led Zeppelin as “the first heavy metal band” or refer to Alice Cooper as “shock rocker.” Tyler hasn’t gone country at all. Yes, he’s added a violin and an acoustic guitar, but there is also a horn section, some great backup singing, and it’s not what I would call “country.”
Admittedly, I’m not the best person to opine on what is and what isn’t Country music, because I was expecting cowboy hats, fiddlers, and a jug band. This is essentially rock music for the discerning listener.
The biggest parallel I can think of right now with Tyler’s adventure is Robert Plant, who funnily enough is one of Steven Tyler’s influences. The reason I make this comparison is because Plant is currently touring with the Space Shifters and his performances of Led Zeppelin material are exactly what Tyler does with a lot of Aerosmith classics. Sure, there are some who would dismiss this as just another effort at remaining relevant, but they would be wrong. Good music is good music, and you don’t need to put a label on it. I personally very much appreciate the ability to hear what’s going on onstage, hear the unique vocal blending and harmonies, and really take in the entire performance, including all the stage banter.
One thing I was amazed at was Steven Tyler’s ability to do that high pitched scream-singing that he’s been doing for more than forty years. There are no turned-down keys, or slowed down songs. There is also a lot of storytelling and interactions with the fans. If you must label this, label it “Pure Steven Tyler!”
The production and cinematography are great, and I mention this because there seems to be a flurry of rock docs around today, and some of them fall short in my opinion. They look hastily put together. Not so with this film. Directed by Casey Tebo, it features interviews with The Loving Mary Band, Slash, Robert Deleo, Jaren Johnston, Starfighters, David Hogdges, Chris Destefano, and Nathan Barlowe.
The film was released yesterday and is available on VOD.