A rocking summer: Supertramp touring, Steven Tyler and Aerosmith recording, and a new album for Yes

There aren’t any signs that classic rock is going away anytime soon, and summer is the time of year when things usually start to happen in the music business. The band Supertramp is touring in Canada, and after finishing with his first season as an American Idol judge, Steven Tyler will join the rest of Aerosmith in the recording studio.

Steven Tyler performs in London in June, 2010. The American Idol judge is set to return to the recording studio with his band, Aerosmith.

There aren’t any signs that classic rock is going away anytime soon. Unfortunately, the business of life does not always allow me to troll the net daily for news that relates to classic rock. At times it can be a struggle to come up with a single topic to write up and at other times, I find enough fodder out there for ten posts. Today could be one of those ten article days, but considering the time it takes me to assemble a single post, it would probably wind up being sometime tomorrow before I was finished!

With that in mind, I’ve decided on a sort of all-inclusive post where I’ll attempt to cherry-pick the most important and interesting classic rock news of the day. Summer is the time of year when things usually start to happen in the music business. Not too many people want to entertain thoughts of attending a show at an outdoor venue in Minneapolis during January after all.

The current incarnation of Supertramp is currently in Canada and drawing good crowds as well as mixed reviews from the media. My experience suggests that there is a pretty deep divide between Supertramp fans over the absence of Roger Hodgson from the current lineup. Thanks to a number of fans in Canada who shot video up there and uploaded it to YouTube, it was possible to get a little taste of how that show is playing out.

Although Davies & Co. seem to be holding their own, I have to agree with some of the reviewers who felt that there was more “heart” in a Roger Hodgson performance than there is in a Davies-led Supertramp show. Although I would not go as far as to say the Supertramp show wasn’t decent, I can only imagine how great it could have been if Hodgson could have been part of the lineup. I suppose my early 1980’s memories will have to suffice.

With regard to memories, the first season of American Idol featuring new judge Steven Tyler is now in that category as well. Country crooner Scotty McCreery walked away with the grand prize this year, which was a bit of a departure from recent seasons, but I suppose the popularity of country music these days should not be underestimated.

It was interesting to observe Tyler on a week-to-week basis on the show and I think it provided a little more insight regarding the iconic frontman’s personality. I thought it was a good move for Tyler who might have proven that he’s more than just one half of the “Toxic Twins,” whose self-destructive behavior often dominated the wild stories we heard about a group of rockers who were known as “The Bad Boys From Boston.”

Tyler’s chance to interact with contestants and his fellow judges gave us a glimpse of his gentler side as his praise for certain contestants often revealed how deeply their performances touched him. Although the whole Idol deal was initially opposed by guitarist Joe Perry, I think the end result will be that it benefited the whole group. It put Aerosmith front-and-center in front of millions of fans, many who may have never heard an Aerosmith song in their lives.

Tyler and the rest of the group are scheduled to resume work on their new album next month with producer Jack Douglas. I could be wrong, but I suspect that new album may end up in the hands of some new fans who may have never paid it much notice if it were not for American Idol.

Another not-so-subtle segue leads us to news of a new album by another legendary classic rock group. The word “progressive” is overused a bit perhaps when we hear the names of certain classic acts mentioned these days, but for my money, Yes is the very definition of a progressive rock group. Surely there were bands both before and after Yes that have earned the right to use that label, but in my own little world, Yes set the standard for progressive rock.

Again, I find myself lamenting the fact that a key member of the lineup is missing. The voice of Yes, as we knew them for so many years is no longer with the group, and much like Roger Hodgson, is out touring on his own. Still, it will be interesting to see what the new Yes album sounds like even without Jon Anderson and I’m certainly willing to give it a chance. Fly From Here is set for release in July and will feature current vocalist Benoit David. Bassist Chris Squire described it as an album that, “…represents the best of Yes from the ’70s and the ’80s with a current twist.”

Rush fans are reminded that tonight, June 9, is the night that Neil Peart will appear on The Late Show with David Letterman. Peart reports that the drum solo he has planned for the show had to be cut in half. Typically he plays a solo about eight minutes in length when touring with Rush, but has to slim that down to about four minutes to accommodate the Late Show’s schedule. Even so, seeing Peart on TV is such a rarity that I’d probably tune in just to see him do one of Letterman’s trademark “Top 10” lists and then walk off the set.

Finally, although a lot has been written about classic rock and why it endures, I thought this article summed it up about as good as any. Although a record store owner quoted in the article states that most people “lock in” into music during the 15 to 30 age range, I must wonder if some people can be influenced even earlier.

The fact that my oldest son seems to have confined his listening almost exclusively to Stevie Ray Vaughan recently suggests that some folks may start to lock in when they are little more than toddlers. I can easily recall a summer or two when SRV dominated my playlist – a time when my son’s favorite TV shows were dominated byThe Power Rangers. That smells like a “lock in” to me! SRV may not fit neatly into the category of classic rock, but I think most would agree that the man was certainly a classic.

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