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Aerosmith to preview its blues style

The tour that pairs Aerosmith and Kiss already is being touted as the biggest double bill of late summer/early fall.

A show on the scale of the arena dates the two groups are playing, though, is a far cry from the setting Aerosmith and Kiss shared the last time they performed on the same bill. Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry said the two bands did a few shows around 1974 or 1975.

Back then both bands still were trying to establish themselves on the rock landscape. Aerosmith's breakthrough came several months after the 1975 release of its third album, "Toys in the Attic," which featured the hit "Sweet Emotion." That same year, Kiss blasted to the forefront of rock with the release a concert version of the song "Rock and Roll All Night" from the "Kiss Alive" album. Perry remembered just how desperate bands were to outshine each other on stage during those early days.

"I think there was a time back in the day when you were only as good as your live show," he said. "You can put out records, but the thing is it was really about playing live, how you got the audience off and what's the guy going onstage before you and are you going to get upstaged and who's louder and getting all the lights. It was a lot more cutthroat and a lot more sense of competition for winning people over. That was where we came from."

These days Aerosmith and Kiss are so well established that neither band has to worry about winning an audience from night to night on tour. Still, Perry expects a little professional pride to filter into the festivities as Aerosmith and Kiss share concert stages into October and beyond.

"I think at this point, each band knows pretty much what they're capable of," Per-ry said. "We know what a Kiss show looks like. And I know what we can do. But I think there's always that twinge of the unknown that we're both counting on pushing the other guys to do. I mean, we're going to get it from them and they're going to get it from us. In the end, the audience is going to get a great show. And I think certainly the competition will be a lot friendlier, but it will still be there."

That's not to say that Perry has any worries about Aerosmith, which will close the shows each evening, being upstaged by the fully costumed Kiss and its special effects-filled concert spectacle.

"I've never been afraid of following anybody. That's just my own natural arrogance. I don't know if it's justified or not," Perry said with a chuckle. "I think if I had to be afraid of following somebody, I'm in the wrong business. To go out there and blast away at 120 dB, you've got to have a certain amount of confidence.''

Kiss is touring behind a new live CD, "Kiss Symphony: Alive IV," which finds the group joining forces with Australia's Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in performing orchestral versions of Kiss hits.

As for Aerosmith, the group will use the dates with Kiss to give fans a first taste of the blues CD set to be released in January.

"We're going to probably play one or two songs from it, and we're going to change the set a lot from night to night," Perry promised.

Perry didn't let out too many secrets about exactly how the blues album will sound, in part because the songs weren't mixed and a final choice of the dozen tunes that will make the CD had yet to be made. But he did offer some hints.

At this point, 16 tracks are being considered, with a handful of them being Aero-smith originals. Covers of tunes by Muddy Waters ("I'm Ready"), Blind Willie Mc-Tell ("Broke Down Engine") Little Walter ("Temperature") and Otis Rush ("All Your Lovin'") have been mentioned as candidates for the CD in various reports.

But Perry said this will not be an album for blues purists. While a couple of tracks may have a traditional blues sound, the CD as a whole offers considerable variety.

"We took influences from these songs, and not only from the classic blues guys, but some of it was from the English (rock) interpretations of some of the blues songs," Perry said, noting the influence of British guitar greats Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmie Page filters into some of the playing.

"I think a lot of people will be interested in what it translates to," he said. "In some cases, it's not much different than some of our early recordings of our originals. In other cases it's a stone-cold Little Walter song. And it was a lot of fun doing it just from that point of view because we left everything at the door, any preconceptions of what it should sound like. I think that was hardest thing, getting everybody kind of to walk through that door."

Aerosmith is co-billed with Kiss for a Sept. 28 show at the UMB Bank Pavilion. Tickets for the 7 p.m. show, which also includes opening act Saliva, cost $128 and $89 for reserved seats and $48 for lawn seats.

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