Another highlight of Play On is “Cornerstone,” a Van Morrison-esque song that Ides of March keyboard player Scott May co-wrote with Peterik. Tom Doody of the Cryan’ Shames sings duet: “We’ll never have to face the night alone … This love will be our cornerstone.”
Paul Shaffer plays Wurlitzer electric piano on “Rule of Three,” a recording experience that Peterik calls “a big thrill.” With its horns and wah-wah electric guitar, the song recalls early work by the band Chicago as Peterik sings: “I could survive three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without shelter or food … but not a single, solitary moment without you.”
Blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa guests on “The Cover-Up (Is Worse than the Crime),” a lament for a cheating lover in which Peterik snarls: “The devil’s in the details, and in the whites of your lies.”
Bo Bice from American Idol duets on a track he wrote with Peterik called “Love or Something Like It.” A brass-booming R&B number reminiscent of early Tina Turner, the song continues the record’s motif of undaunted perseverance by declaring: “Sometimes you get lucky, other times you don’t … You gotta let it roll.”
The boogie-woogie “First Day of Your Life” snaps to a walking bass line while extending the album’s theme of defiant resolve: “You got those naysayers saying your time is over,” but “This could be the first day of your life.” On the galloping “Too Far to Turn Around,” Peterik channels Simon & Garfunkel as the band sings, “I’m on the road to where I’ve never been, beyond the borders of imagining.”
The song “She,” which Ides drummer Mike Borch co-wrote with Peterik, evokes Steely Dan via saxophone and Fender Rhodes electric piano as Peterik sings: “She likes to see who she can make … She loves to see who she can break.” For the closing track “All the Way Home,” Peterik—a self-described homebody who’s been married to his wife Karen for 47 years—sings, “Run with me, come to me, follow the sun with me, all the way home.”
Fifty-five years after The Ides of March formed in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn, Ill., in 1964—and 49 years after their hit single “Vehicle” roared over the radio when Peterik was just 19 years old—the band is reasserting itself with Play On. The new album “takes off from the ‘Vehicle’ era, which was our big moment: 1970, number-one on Billboard and Cash Box,” says Peterik. “That was our biggest hit.”
In the ’80s Peterik co-founded the power-pop band Survivor, co-writing a series of chart-toppers that included “High on You,” “I Can’t Hold Back,” “The Search Is Over,” and “Eye of the Tiger,” the Grammy-winning song from the movie Rocky III. He left Survivor in 1996 and later formed the rock bands Pride of Lions and World Stage (in April, the latter released an excellent album called Winds of Change).
A formidable talent with a tireless work ethic and a big heart, Peterik is an encouraging force for his peers. He has written and co-written thousands of songs—including the 38 Special hits “Rocking into the Night,” “Hold on Loosely,” “Caught Up In You,” “Wild-Eyed Southern Boys” and “Fantasy Girl.” With Sammy Hagar he co-wrote the theme song for the 1981 movie Heavy Metal.
In 1990, The Ides of March reformed with all four original members, who remain in the band today. For the last 30 years the Ides have also included May on Hammond organ, keyboards and vocals. Rounding out the current lineup are Steve Eisen on saxophone and percussion, Tim Bales on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Henry Salgado on trombone.
Peterik’s musical tastes and projects range from melodic rock to country, but “with The Ides of March, I get the chance to flex those soul, funkier brass arrangements, but still with the big choruses, great vocals and harmonies,” he says.
Play On is also available as a double vinyl record. The first three sides comprise the 14 tracks on the album, while the fourth assembles reissues of original masters of the classic Ides songs “Vehicle,” “Superman,” “L.A. Goodbye,” “One Woman Man,” “Rollercoaster,” and “You Wouldn’t Listen.”
In a throwback to the era when vinyl was king, the record sleeves have “great photos and lyrics that you can actually read without using a loupe,” Peterik says. For The Ides of March, he says, playing on is “a labor of love.”