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Aerosmith

The Love Of Money Is The Root Of All Evil

Introduction
Aerosmith
Get Your Wings
Toys In The Attic
Rocks
Draw The Line
Live Bootleg
Night In The Ruts
Rock In A Hard Place
Done With Mirrors
Classics Live
Classics Live II
Permanent Vacation
Pump
Get A Grip
Nine Lives
A Little South of Sanity
Just Push Play
Honkin' On Bobo

 


The Lineup Card 1972-2002

Steven Tyler (vocals)

Joe Perry (lead guitar) until 1979, returned in 1984

Tom Hamilton (bass)

Brad Whitford (rhythm guitar) until 1980, returned in 1984

Joey Kramer (drums)

Jimmy Crespo (guitar) 1980-84

Rick Dufay (guitar) 1980-84

I'm not gonna say too much about Aerosmoth 'cos there's really not much to say. They're a hard rockin' bunch of stoners'oo came stumblin' outta Boston (actually, New Hampshire first, but is there anyone who actually gives a doggone about that idiotic backwards state?) in the early 70's (much too late for either the first or second waves of heavy metal/hard rock, but still early enough to be considered a good ol' 70's band) earning lots of comparisons to both Led Zeppelin (because they were about as heavy as that, and Joe Perry looks just like Jimmy Page) and the Rolling Stones ('cos they played bluesy sometimes, and never were really heavy, and because Steven Tyler's got 'em some big lipps) The 'Smiths didn't really find a sound of their own until their third album, but once they grabbed that one they rode it like a whore all the way to the bank. After becoming big ol' stars and gaining some nice quality, they wasted no time following their idols and becoming some of the world's worst drug casualty poster boys, and, at their lowest point, even had to survive a Spinal Tap-esque one-album walkout by their two guitar players (as well as finding themselves without much of an audience...whoops!). But, like loyal puppies, the twanger brothers came back, and an interesting rap crossover single co-headlined with Run-DMC reintroduced them to their audience. But, unfortunately, the old hard rockin but funky sound was gone forever, replaced by MTV-ready pop-rock for girls, pretty good for its kind but...

Aerosmith is a band without too many 'sides'. They started off as pretty blatant ripoffs of their betters (and apparently, at least as of a few years ago, Robert Plant still considers them as such), but its hard to deny they also kicked a lengthy string of ass there in the mid- to late- 70's when they figured out how to be swingin' and earth movin'. They were 'America's Hard Rock Band', a lot more down to earth than their broadswords-and-codpieces competitors from across the Atlantic, and that Steven Tyler even writes some snappy lyrics from time to time, which is even a higher achievement. Even their supposed 'comatose' albums ('77-'82) are pretty fine hummin' if you're not looking for something new. Aerosmith in general is great if originality is not your thing...they just make really snappy hard rock music that was so derivative they ought to require Trigonometry (ooh! math humor!) It's just that when they sold out, they sold out big and they sold out brassy, and the new cheese-wire Aerosmith is but a shadow of the junk hurricane of the ol' days.


Aerosmith - Columbia 1973

Dirty, sloppy, and not all that ready to be prime time players. What's funny to consider nowadays is, when the first Aerosmith record came out, these guys were small potatoes. Even thumbing through old copies of Rolling Stone from the early 70's, you can see right there on Page 31 that these guys were one of those bands that required advertisements with words like 'It'll Rip Your Asshole a New Asshole...'Aerosmith' on Columbia Records' as a caption line. Problem is, it really won't. They knew all about being down and dirty, that was easy. But they didn't know you also had to provide us with something to listen to, y'know?

Like, as for down 'n' dirty, first thing that's gonna jump out of the headphones and fondle your tender bits is how bad these guitars sound. Like, totally piddly and lacking in any manner of heft. They're just...dirty. Filthy! Just Like KISS, In Fact! Wash your damn hands before you come in and start touching everything in the damn house, Joseph Perry!  And not like anyone else sounds much better. Like, and the riffs are recognizable as being of the breed boogius domesticus but I wouldn't be goin' around spending a bunch of money on grooming and sweaters and showing them off to all your friends and claiming they're purebreds worth thousands of dollars. I mean, these guys were the product of some sort of ilicit, back alley riff rape between a Keith Richard tossoff and a Jimmy Page Kossoff and we all know it. And memo to Steven Tyler: Sounding like you need to cough a big loogie off your tonsils is not a way to impress as a rock vocalist. Ah, well, they'd improve all this stuff by Get Yer Wings, so who fucking blows a nut?

What's nice to write home to your parole officer about is that Aerosmith does deliver some decent stuff despite sounding like Free with a bad collective head cold on the opening 'Make It' and 'Somebody'. Dude, I fall for 'Dream On' like a 12 year old for her math teacher, and you know why? I have not heard a more interesting vocal job done on a power ballad ever. I could even say that I call this stuff compelling...he had to come up with all those fast near-rap vocal rhythms, ya know. Maybe all this will change when I listen to more of this oft-warted song style, but you know what I mean. Oh, and on the chorus part, where he's going 'Sing With Me...' and Joe comes in out of nowhere going du-dddd-dum du-dddd-dum? Just a little piece of something sweet, but boy it's nice.

And for the best in their current gross-out style, I point you in the direction of the Guns-n-Roses favorite 'Mama Kin', with lyrics about smoking weed and some of the lamest lead playing I've heard yet. No, not the riff, that rules. But try to figure what he's trying to do on those solo bits. Is he an idiot? He does better on the bluesy stuff, but only the riding-on riff of 'Movin' Out' convinces me much. I even thing the lyrics are funky, but jesus, did Steven have to sing the words like that? Cough the Kermit out of your throat and try another take, Tyler. And as if we haven't figured out that they're copping as much from the Stones as possible, they cover 'Walkin' The Dog' just like on England's Newest Hitmakers, sap all the boyish fun out of it and inject some leaden funk and weird rhythm flute (listen to it...it's right there). In a three-way race, I say it beats Ratt's early-80's version, but loses by far to Mick and the Boy's doing whistles and stuff.

Capn's Final Word: That's about how it goes. Take out the fun from the Stones, make it dirtier and heavier and more ponderous, and you've got Aerosmith 1. If you can handle basic, no brains hard rock, it ain't bad, but they ain't nearly shooting skyrockets yet.

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dude prjones2@earthlink.net Your Rating: A+

Any Short Comments?: Sounds better and better as the years go by. ONE WAY STREET RULES. MAMA KIN RULES. MOVIN OUT RULES. DREAM ON- Overplayed... Your


Get Your Wings - Columbia 1974.

Well they certainly sound better than a load of what came out of the wrong end of the cow on Get Your Wings, everything's clear as a bell, the jive-whiner Steven Tyler style we all know and tolerate is here to stay, and they finger out that you should really try to sound like you have two or more guitars playing instead of barely one (at least when playing hard rock in the studio...you know, them's the rules). They just pack it all in, like more is better and a lot must rule the shit. The opening 'Same Old Song and Dance' has horns, hand-claps & stomps, a sax solo, slide guitar, Aborigine dancers, John Madden doing the cabbage patch, and a herd of rabbits painted tie-die released at the end. 'Lord Of the Thighs' has a banging rhythm piano (stolen from the Stones 'We Love You'), guitar delay, Tyler singing with a Greetings-era Springsteen pronunciation, some wah wah, a triple-tracked guitar solo (which is just as butt-ugly as that may sound) and a large cake destroyed with some dynamite charges at the end.

I'm just not sure all this tacking-on of studio tricks makes for some good songs. I like the brassy 'Same Old' just fine, but 'Lord' goes on way too long without much of a riff, 'S.O.S. (Too Bad)' is rilly stuuuuuuupid 'Hello Little Schoolgirl'-derived cock rock, and 'Pandora's Box' is about 1/10th the speed it should be. They even attempt a couple of 'epics', weirdly enough: 'Seasons Of Wither' starts off sounding like Shout-era Motley Crue, but then rolls into some more palatable generic arpeggio 'drama' with some more of that good quality Steven Tyler singing...the 'wind right out of your sails' burst is worth sitting through all this other filler, but he just doesn't have enough of those moments on the record. 'Spaced' is probably a Hawkwind member's worst nightmare of a space rocker, starting with a bunch of crap noise and going into something sounding like Bad Company rather than 'Interstellar Overdrive', and Steven Tyler doesn't even sing very well here. And no good guitar soloing, either. Phew...I'm glad it's their only foray into this sort of thing (until their crap later years, anyway). For space travel, they sure make it sound like changing the oil in your truck.

And, believe it or not, there's another cover song in the 'Walkin' The Dog' tradition (meaning, it like totally points to who they're constantly ripping off...subtle or overflowing with humility these guys weren't), the live 'Train Kept A Rollin', which is reduced to sounding like Kiss again on the first section. Bummer...this song oughta cook from here until next week like how Jimmy Page did it (and how Aerosmith does it in the second part. I guess they wanted to build the 'tension' then have everyone go crazy when they finally kicked into gear. Well, I want to be manipulated by Aerosmith about as much as I want to donate my left nut to medical science, so screw you. Play the damn song right the whole way through next time!

Capn's Final Word: More, but still less. More, like more instruments, more cool noises, longer songs. But less, like less originality, less songwriting talent, and less sheer goodness than who they're trying to be.

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Toys In The Attic - Columbia 1975

Ooooohhhhhh golly! This is what it's all about, buddy! I don't know what sort of reaction you get when the title track comes charging out of those speakers, but I'm a hoppin' like a mouthful of Reds and jigglin' like tryout day on Baywatch Nites. What a quantum leap these guys took in their songwriting! From that trashy recycling on their first two records to some of the zippiest, snappiest, and freshest hard rock I've ever put between my ears here on Toys. And they did it so late in the game that most had probably given up on hard rock ever doing anything this exciting again. And how does that title track sound anyway? Well, firstoff it's faster than frig, and these sorts of obscene, heaving vocal hooks keep poking out of the little holes in the lightning-speed guitar interplay. Hey, I love guitar interplay, just like the next fool with too many record albums. And when the guitars soar and crackle like these do, well, dang. Dang. What else is there than that? Originality? Psha!

And they've begun making some excellent decisions in addition to their new level of hookiness and excitement. Like, on Wings, the slot filled by 'Uncle Salty' probably would've been some leaden, ineffective crap song like 'Spaced', and while like, this song isn't any 'Let It Be' or anything, it's got a sweet roll on the verse and the godlike haunt 'It's a sunny day outside my window' on the chorus blow dries my hair. OR how about the funkiest beat ever in a hard rock song, so funky that rap gods Run DMC used to steal it regularly, add on some of Tyler's best jive-bunny white rapping (about threesomes! yee-haw!) and some more of that tight-as-a-titty dual lead guitar and call me home to dinner, because it's payday baby, and meat's on the table to-naht! 'Sweet Emotion' isn't as funky as all that, but its still funkier than hard riff rock has a number on it's standard equipment gauge panel for, and I sure dig Joe standing right up there and declaring his cock-guitar credentials. It sounds like he's trying to make the whole world rock along with just his own bad self. You know what, though? These lyrics sure sound neato, but I couldn't tell you what they meant without a mouthful of Sunshine and a six-pack of Schlitz to help me out first.

Don't need either one to figure out the 'maybe I'm a dreaaaaa-mer...' part on 'No More No More' is also one grand slam sort of hook line, and it's hitched on to a rockin' forward-progress sort of thing that I could live off of. Of course, I also like it when bands can get real heavy without losing their (melodic) cookies, and 'Round and Round's got it all that.

But why'd they have to go and stink it all up by putting some tear-jerker 'sincere' Steven Tyler ballad there on the end? Arg! D'ya know if they'd put a song on there even half as good as 'Mama Kin' or 'Lord Of The Thighs' or 'Dream On', I'd throw an A+ on this thing faster than a trip down a slip 'n' slide? But nooooo....this song comes complete Steven reverting to his old (shitty) singing voice), it's got a Wings-esque orchestra, a man kicking my dog and another raping my sister. Fucking 'You See Me Crying'...well, at least it isn't 'Crying', that would make me knock this album down even another notch. Or three. Oh and I know 'Big Ten Inch Record' is a joke, but that doesn't mean I have to like the damn song.

But shit, that's why god made hands! So you could take the needle off the record before the last song! And to masturbate yourself!

Capn's Final Word: Oooh yeah, bumpa bumpa! yeah! man....ja jaaaah, ja jaaaahh! dweedle dweeedle! Uh! rockin...yeah!

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Rocks - Columbia 1976

Believe it or fuck off, but this album actually has some better, more rockin' tunes than even Toys In the Attic. I mean, you shall not deny the power of the bassline on 'Back In The Saddle', or that itchy funk drumming, or Steven Tyler sounding like a mad dog with his tail on fire on a hot Texas afternoon. But it's all that stuff, and it doesn't even have to fly at full speed like 'Toys In The Attic' did. That's entertainment value, baby! That's value for money! That's living up to the billing of an album so balls-ily titled Rocks. And man, you say they follow that up with the southern nudie bar funk classic 'Last Child'? Now you're paddling my panda, if you 'install' my 'Windows XP', and I think you do. Gosh, does this album ever fall off? Not on the speedy 'Toys' rewrite 'Rats In The Cellar', it doesn't. On 'Sick As A Dog' it's still going strong. The fast 'n' hard 'n' great 'n' rockin stuff just keep on comin', that's what happens. It's like the tap from Toys never turned off, and these songs are all cookies from that same batch. Mmmm mmmm, good cookin', too. Aerosmith were really talented at what they were doing at this point, never too heavy or leaden or slow (they weren't no Black Sabbath), they were accomplished but never ever over complicated (no Rush or Uriah Heep neither), but never too light or poppy either (though they would be....they would be...)

So why not an A+? Well if the last album had 'Ten Inch Record' and 'You See Me Crying' to ruin the total ass-kicking mood, this album has 'Get the Lead Out' and 'Home Tonight' respectively, even placed in the identical places that those two Toys stinkers. 'Get' is a mediocre funk tune, okay if all you're looking for is guitar and a beat, but where's the magic, man? And 'Home Tonight' is an improvement in the whole ballad thing, it's plenty bombastic and all that noise, but geez. Again I wish they'd followed through 100%. It's maddening, but not maddening enough to change my opinion that this (with Toys) is one of the premiere rock records of the 70's. More of this stuff and no one would've cared about a few smelly mongoloid welfare cases from Britain squeaking that 'Yes Sucks' and that rock had been dead since the mid-60's.

Capn's Final Word: Humph, ooh yeah!, bumpa bumpa! uh! uh! uh!....na na naaa naaa naaaaaa!! Ow! Still rockin...yeah!

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Draw The Line - Columbia 1977.

Smack. Heroin. Horse. Skag. Junk. Juice. H. The Pale Rider. It's made it's unmistakable presence known to all on Draw The Line. Using H makes most bands better for a short time (Toys and Rocks, anyone? But also look at the Stones or Eric Clapton for just two other examples), but then junkie bands usually make this sort of 'last resort' record before losing it. sometimes these albums are excellent (Exile On Main St. or Layla) but sometimes they're just confusing. Like here. They obviously tried to do something different, I guess, and what that something might be I'm as clueless as everyone else (and as much as the members of the band, apparently), so this does not sound much like Tocks. But it sure starts out good with my favorite (on most days, anyway) Aerosmith song ever in the full bore, sloppy-but-sincere-but-fantastic 'Draw The Line'. God what a song...I remember I picked up a bottleneck slid for the first time trying to play this song in particular. On my ex-girlfriend's Flying V. You know when your girlfriend has a Gibson Flying V you're already in trouble. I should've noticed the warning signs. Oh well.

Boy, parts of this album just aren't much better than the poopier parts of Get Your Wings. I've always thought that while Zeppelin was influenced by all that 30's Chicago blues, and Deep Purple by classical, Aerosmith got its 'mystery' influence from James Brown. But not even Soul Brother Number One could find much to dance to on the distasteful funk-rocker 'Get It Up', the only song on here that still tries to get that old Aerosmith beat on. This one's also got the Rainbow-esque (check out those keyboards! and that drumming! and that solo! It's a total rip!) 'Kings And Queens', which has a fine melody and stuff, but it's a bit cheesy for the boys. I'm happier with them talking about being 'down South' than about bleeding maidens and whatnot. I hear often from people other than my own two ears that this is a 'groove' album, but maybe you grew up in a different part of town than I did. For me, 'Back In The Saddle' is a groove, 'Last Child' was a groove. Okay, 'Sight For Sore Eyes' and 'Critical Mass' are grooves, but 'Bright Light Fight' is a shambles, 'I Wanna Know Why' is straight offa Aerosmith, and 'The Hand That Feeds' is a pretty sad copy of Keith Richard's guitar style.

In short, there's enough good stuff on here (and nothing really stinks, not altogether...but lots of the individual parts do) that I feel bad rating this album at the level of Get Your Wings, which I don't like near as much. But there's also enough stuff that simply doesn't make it no matter how many times I run the groove over the record (and believe me, I've been trying for years) that it's not even in the same school district as the previous two albums. Too much of it doesn't rock, doesn't swing, and doesn't have all those cool touches we've come to expect. Yup, it's the beginning of the end for another formerly great band.

Capn's Final Word: It's still Aerosmith, I guess, but where's the magic? The number of 'wow' moments suffers a major dropoff.

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Live! Bootleg - Columbia 1978.

Yes, this is the exact right moment for Aerosmith to have put this double live album out. They were on probably their last 'ass-kicking 70's' tour before their guitar players left them and Tyler started passing out on stage and shit. I'm not gonna say you should go out and try some drugs, but I will say that 'drugged up' tours are usually some of the best a band goes on. Is anyone truly going to come out and say that Aerosmith put on a better show in the cleaned-up, lived-to-tell 90's than in the fucked-up, kill-yourself-with-fun-as-fast-as-you-can 70's? Only the most misguided of us.

So, as I was sayin' up there, it was the perfect time for a well-recorded, full blown double live album. But...eek!...we didn't get a well recorded one! It was their intention, according to Joe Perry himself, that they release a live album with audience cassette-recorder quality. Wha? I mean, I've heard badly recorded live albums (how many hours of my life wasted? how many?), but very rarely have I heard of someone doing this on purpose. Except for maybe the Replacements, who actually confiscated an audience tape and released the damn thing as a joke. I guess that silly idea also explains the title and cruddy packaging of this thing....they were 'beating the boots' which is a tired old saw, doncha know (Live At Leeds? Ya Yas? Basement Tapes? It's been done...again Aerosmith fails on the originality thing) So you can count this album as a great opportunity nearly squandered on some doped-up concept that probably sounded real dumb the minute the high wore off.

But I said 'almost', because this is still an Aerosmith 70's live collection (not a single show...this stuff comes from more sources than Linux...ooh! OS humor!), and that's something right there, isn't it? The band is blazing as you might expect, Steven does a fine job when he's being himself (and not James Brown...) and since they're one of those nice 'n' hard sorts, they're able to cut loose and inject all the adrenaline and venom the record producers squeeze out of their studio recordings. And, on the flip side, sometimes it hurts. I wish they'd left the effects off of 'Sweet Emotion' and 'Walk This Way' and just ripped through the songs dry, but there's this talk box thing getting all in the way all the time making both sound real weak. They do rip through 'Toys In The Attic', but count yourself lucky if you can tell through the bad mix job. But then it clears up and 'Last Child' and their cover of 'Come Together' come through loud and clear and tight...this is the definition of a tight band, drugs or no drugs. 'Dream On' of course can't match the original for bombast and power, but it's nice. And don't ask me about 'Mother Popcorn' or I kill you.

Capn's Final Word: So it's messy and some of the versions suck ass. It's supposed to! Isn't that just geeeee-nius?

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Night In The Ruts - Columbia 1979.

Now, if Draw The Line and Live Bootleg were the sounds and products of a great band descending into mediocrity due to the fact that they could no longer tell the difference between good material and bad, Straight Towards The Balls is the sound of a mediocre band scraping all of its entrails off the floor and putting together the best possible effort they could make. But were they actually all that mediocre at this time? I mean, it is still Aerosmith with all parts more or less intact...I could even put forth the theory that the drugs were better in 1979 than they had been a few years earlier, or maybe the mixture was adjusted or something, or maybe the fact that Joe Perry was daydreaming of his future solo project made him put down some better-than-expected guitar lines. So file this under Much Better Than It Should Have Been.

Like, I don't want you scrolling away from this review with the impression that As The Crow Flies In The Direction Of The Male Organs of Reproduction is the lost Rocks II (or, therefore Toys III) (furthermore Sticky Holy Houses of Bleeding Fingers IV), but there are definitely songs on this one that come close or even equal the songs on those albums. Like take 'Chiquita', which has one of the most innersting rffs ta evr b pld frm J Pr's ss. Plus having 2 or 3 different melodic ideas, which is at least 4 more than in any of my songs.  'No Surprize' rocks it on out like a Toys outtake and 'Cheesecake' is dumb in a jocular, jolly, and entirely unnecessary manner. The only other really noteworthy track I can pick out of this muck is the cover of Phil Spector's (I think...sheeeit, you think I've heard the original? Dream until your dreams come true...) 'Remember (Walking In The Sand)' which has got to be Steven Tyler's low point as a vocalist (at least, post-debut album and pre-MTV schmaltz)...and I just know this song isn't as godawfully pig-nosed ugly as he makes it out to be. I dunno, I find it to be a real torture in comparison to stupid crap (that I still like) like 'Think About It' or even the closing vomit-jerker tear-inducer 'Mia'...I mean, I'll take a mediocre but still all right Aerosmith original over some worthless cover any day.

Man, when dissected and laid out on the lab table like this, Direct to the Testes sure don't seem like much, and in truth, it really ain't. I've listened to the damn thing over and over for the past 3 or 4 days trying to finally beat my mother-in-law into submission so I can take a few minutes and write this review, and I still can't name most of the songs on here. Okay, maybe half. But that don't mean I don't get a good ol' Southern kick outta most of it, especially the first few songs which just make me all giddy like a bottle of Canada Dry. And even as the album goes on and the songs get more rote and less immediately impressive, I still like 'em. It's just that way...

And give 'em some credit for not bowing to the pressure of either Van Halen-esque new hard rock OR New Wave in any way...it took some balls to release such a regressively out-of-style album in 1979.

Capn's Final Word: This caused Joe and Brad to leave, and they stuck around after Pump and Get a Grip? What the fuck were they on?

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Rock In A Hard Place - Columbia 1982

Taking the coveted place next to Yes's Drama, The Doors' Morrison-less albums, Velvet Underground's Squeeze, and The Heads' No Talking, Just Head as albums most dismissed by their fans because of the loss of major members of the band, Rock In A Hard Place presents us with a Joe Perry and Brad Whitford-less Aerosmith. In case that doesn't sound too weird, imagine a Rolling Stones without Keith Richards or a Led Zeppelin without Jimmy Page and you're thinking along the same lines. Hard Place also gets knocks because it was done at Steven's absolute drug nadir, a time of onear-total semi-consciousness, and as I've read it got so bad they had to wheel him into the studio in a wheelchair just to record his vocals on this album. There's major strike number two. Number three is that they had to go and invoke the Rocks album name, no doubt attempting to remind their fan base (concurrently rapidly turning over as teenage zit-cases turn 'college' and start digging crap like Devo and jazz music or whatever smart kids liked in 1982) that they used to really do so, and might actually attempt to do again on this record. I think it's cheap, but then, even at their best a lot about Aerosmith has come off sorta un-classy over the years (Live Bootleg? Big Ones? 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing'!)

But there ARE some bright spots on this, yet another unheralded decent record in the 'Smith catalog. For one thing, the new guitar players are...wha?...are actually real good. I have no idea who Jimmy Crespo or Rick Dufay may have been or what they may have done after this, but I'll give 'em this much: for being brought into what must've been a very difficult situation with Aerosmith in the early 80's (replacing major members, fans don't want ya, the band is newly 'uncool' even in hard rock circles, lotsa big-league drug problems) they do an extremely commendable job of trying to make this an enjoyable listening experience. Crespo, anyway, is an exciting player able to raise the level of a track with his playing alone, and he does this often over the course of this one. 'Lightning Strikes'! 'Bilivian Ragamuffin'! 'Prelude to Joanie'! 'Joanie'a Butterfly'! 'Appendix to Joanie!' 'Index to Joanie!' 'Advertisement For Other Paperbacks Exclusively From 1982 Aerosmith Publishers (With 29c off Coupon)'!?! He Rips It Up! There's even a mic-effect on 'Prelude' that may make you think you're listening to that creepy middle part of Pink Floyd's 'Sheep' when it's actually just an intro to one of Aerosmith's better ballads. Jimmy plays a bit heavier than ol' Joey did, so the album has a more 'metal' feel than a 'hard rockin' feel, but that's only skin deep. Not just knee deep? John McLaughlin Devadip!

So what I'm a-tryin' ta say here is that while if you look too deeply at Hard Place, you're gonna see all kinds of cracks in the foundation, termites runnin' all helter skelter through the woodwork, the pipes a-leakin', the garden hose don't work, the mailman's a drunk, and the reenage next door neighbor girl NEVER forgets to close her drapes while changing her clothes. But, really, this album is at least as much of a good, entertaining Aerosmif album as that Ruts thing, and probably much better than the debut. But you know as well as I do that if you are really charging quality CDs on your credit card and shoplifting the rest, this one's definitely going down the front of the baggy pants next to the 40 and the Phillies Blunts. One star from the All Music Guide? Those guys have their lips so attached to the record industry's ass it's pretty damned disgusting.

Capn's Final Word: Dare I say it? The last of the classic Aerosmith studio albums. Shed a tear for our lost brothers.

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Done With Mirrors - Geffen 1985.

Welcome back Steve Perry and Brad Johnson, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback, because there's a new Aerosmith album in town. And in case your congenital herpes is acting up, I'll look on the credits for you. That's right, there's ol' Joe Perry and Brad Whitford raht dahr, playin' them 'lectric twangies like 'twas 1975 or sumphin. Yup, the boys came back home much like the Prodigal Son or Rickey Henderson or somebody. And they didn't forget to bring the drugs, neither. Mmm mmm....drugs. As if this band needed more of those. Anyway, we've played that string a few times. Let's just say that absolutely none of the Aerosmith boys were any steps closer to reforming themselves in 1985 than they were in 1980, and proceed on to talking about the album they put together.

Why does Joe Perry play 'Draw The Line' in the middle of his 'Let The Music Do The Talking' solo? Does he wish he was back in 1977 again and Aerosmith wasn't just a 10-year outta date footnote to hard rock? Why does Steven so obviously throw in a reference to 'Pinball Wizard' on the idiotically mid-80's metal titled 'My Fist Your Face'? I could go on and on, but I'll leave it and simply say this album is trying so hard to rock that it ends up leaden. They don't even know where to start to make this album do anything or go anywhere. For one thing, the production is overly echoey and hair-rock oriented, and someone always seems to have the bad sense to throw some toinky synth line next to the over-heavy guitars. And my ass isn't covered in little bristly hairs if this record isn't waaaaay too slow throughout. Aerosmith used to be built for speed, but by this time they're happier just to ride that leisurely riff into the mud without even a hint of a changeup or middle 8 or anything. Just riff riff riff. Quite often they sound like guys who just learned how to play, but more often than that they just sound worn out.

I don't, however, have too many particularly mean feelings about this record, like I fer sure have against some of the later ones, I'm just so bored I feel like having 'family time' instead of listening more. See, they were at this point just a bunch of old guys without an inch of success remaining, trying to keep it together long enough to make a record. And while Mirrors is about as interesting as a bowl of dry corn flakes and some black decaf coffee, we're totally spared the clowning and tear-jerking they liked to indulge in after their cause was taken up by a particular music channel that shall go unnamed.

Capn's Final Word: Not a particularly compelling record to add to your collection. But probably has some pretty neat chemical residue on it from being associated with 1985-era Aerosmith. Buy it and smoke the jacket and tell me if you feel anything...

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Classics Live! - Columbia 1986.

Live record company revenge album from the Crespo/Dufay period (Feb. 1984, if you're into specificities), it's a lot of loud, dumb fun, as you may expect judging from your above average SAT scores.  Weird because there's not a single Hard Place song on here, odd because there's some overlap with Live Bootleg on an album that only clocks in at 38 minutes (I guess there was only two studio albums separating the two, so maybe that's understandable), thereby allowing one to compare the two lineups head to head on songs like 'Dream On' and 'Sweet Emotion' and see that, indeed, Crespo was one energetic dude who probably deserved a better lot in this life than being merely titled 'Joe Perry's Scab Replacement'. You get only two from Ruts ('Three Mile Smile' and 'Reefer Head Woman', whee. Feel my boredom, audience...FEEL IT! Why pick two of the worst songs on that album? Don't they understand that frigging 'Chiquita' RULES?), and otherwise a whole lot of what you were missing on Live Bootleg, meaning good sound. This concert sounds pretty fantastic on headphones except for maybe Steven's voice which can set new standards for 'strain' at this time. And there are times where the band hits the metal pedal a tad too hard ('Mama Kin' has a few too many 'chugga chugga's fer example). But for a cheapie cut-out bin live album, this is pretty sweet stuff.

Oh, and there's a debut-era outtake called 'Major Barbra', a loping ballad full of slide guitar and Steven sounding like a different Stevie.

Nicks.

Capn's Final Word: There are points where Jimmy sounds better than ol' Joe Perry on this one. And the whole dang things so much cleaner than Bootleg....and no ugly James Brown!

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Classics Live! II - Sony 1986.

Live record from the return appearance of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford to Aerosmith, thus completing the prophecy that Spinal Tap had made just two years previous. So the band at this point was a sad and tired joke, they could still play their old songs just fine. And I don't hear them 80's-ing them up any either, thank God. I mean, they play 'Back In The Saddle' so straight and by-the-record they may as well be in the studio recording the dang thing. I guess, of course, that would be a fault with this one, that they play so dang straight that the songs don't get much added to them and blah blah blah....you've heard the drill. Again, this sounds so frigging much better than Live Bootleg I feel we can pretty much count that live album out as your first Aero live purchase. These guys are pretty fantastic playing live, and both Classics Live discs are good enough to help you scratch that Steven Tyler-scream desire you harbor deep down in your pants. It's just that this one's got the original lineup on it. It's yer choice, pardner. I think the other band was a little hotter on the music, but this one's got better songs and better soloing.

They rescue 'Movin Out', always one of my faves from the debut, they crank out 'Draw The Line' (but not quite fast or loose enough for me) but 'Toys' is played about as fast as can be accomplished by people with only two arms, and I'm happy. Yup...whole album makes me happy.

Capn's Final Word: Another good, if not revelatory live album. Lots of energy, not too much that makes for a 'wow'. You can't smell the fart with a crocodile on your face.

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Permanent Vacation - Geffen 1986

Leave it to Run-DMC to save the day yet again. I know I've often been found to raise my low spirits with a blast through 'My Adidas' on occasion, and all it took was Joe and Steve showing up to a recording session and video shoot of Run DMC's cover of 'Walk This Way' and the boys were plucked off the scrap heap for good. They cleaned up, got real famous, won a bunch of Grammys and played on Saturday Night Live a few million times, and even now it looks like there here to stay. Do you realise that without that single, Aerosmith would probably be remembered somewhere lower than REO Speedwagon? I mean REO had plenty more hits than the 'smiths did, and more recently, too. Probably somewhere around Night Ranger and the Alan Parsons Project we'd find Aero, and all us web reviewers would be falling all over ourselves to rediscover this 'lost' 70's band with its Rocks and Toys and such.

But, as most things in life, the story has both a good side and a bad side. The good being that the old Aerosmith was never left to fade away into mid-memory, but the bad news is that the new 80's-90's band was never anywhere close to that level of chocolatey squishiness in its new incarnation. While the old Aero was sorta dark and menacing in a 'their insides are rotted out with drugs' way, the new band is almost cuddly and always, always cheesy. Groan worthy jokes, way overdone power ballads, and nary a hard edge to be found on the rockers. Like, they're recognizable as being the same Aerosmith that did 'Toys', but are much easier to recognize as the band that did 'Big Ten Inch Record' and 'You See Me Crying' instead.

That said, the true commercial breakthrough hadn't happened yet when Permanent Vacation was released (it happened with it) so there's a little more of the ol' Aero spirit here than on later releases where they were really going for the dollar. Especially if you take 'old' to mean Done By Mirrors-era rather than some era from a year with a 70 in it. It's still the 80's, hair metal is still the man to beat in the record business, and this one does its darndest to compete with your Slippery When Wet's and your Hysteria's. Comes out looking a lot better than those two albums, in fact...there's not as much hair metal pretension or awful arena-rocking stuff at all, but it's still far from being down to earth. Like, there's horns on 'Dude (Looks Like a Lady)' and 'Rag Doll', and I'm not talking cool 'Same Old Song and Dance' horns, I'm talking cheesy could-be-synths straight outta the E Street Band. But dang it all, I like the hoo-haw outta those tunes. I like the itchy guitar part you can almost not hear on 'Dude' (and I hate that annoying sample that starts off the song and repeats the whole time...listen for it. It's There, or I'm a Moron). The Broadway-esque 'Rag Doll' does sound like some goofy Get Your Wings joke track, except for Steven's Al Jolson vocals (they never would've done anything that dumb back in 1974, cmon. And anyway, there's only like 5 lines in the whole song, just repeated over and over. Write a whole dang song, idiots!) and those ever present too-loud drums. And I hate the memory of my ex-girlfriends mom, one of the least cool people I ever met, impersonating Steven's drawn out 'come on up and see me' at the end and shaking her hips around. Barf. And 'Angel' is power ballad shite of the most ordinary type, even worse than the ol' stinkers Steven used to tack on at the end of albums ('You See Me Crying', etc.)

The non-hits on here are truly hit and miss. The opening 'Hearts Done Time' is nicely rocking and 'Simoriah', 'St. John', and the jumpy 'Girl Keeps Comin Apart' are all tons more interesting and well-written than anything on Mirrors was, but 'Magic Touch' and the title track take more than a little from (to my ears) the likes of Bon Jovi-mid 80's hair metal: sing along chorus, too-loud snare and high-hat, lots of dueled lead guitar...you know, rock the arena and all that. 'Hangman's Jury' is fun and stupid and all, but the creakin' porch swing chain effect is too much. And 'The Movie' goes back to 'Spaced' for inspiration, and doesn't seem to have improved much. Blech.

And I don't know what everyone else is picking off of the cow pasture, but the cover of the Beatles' 'I'm Down' kicks ASS on here. What, not enough stupid samples and echoey drums for you? Steven sounds better than he has in years. Okay. The piano/synth solo is AWFUL. But the rest of it is great!

Man, this album skirts the edge of being the sort of over-produced late 80's crap pop metal I've sworn to hate with all my might, but then again it never quite falls over into the bubbling tar pit of death more than a couple of times. It is pretty pop though, so take that as a warning, in case the release year and flashy cover and singles aren't enough warning already.  For hard pop rock, it is a pretty darned entertaining listen, especially if you think updating the Aerosmith sound seems like a good idea. I think its a crap idea, but for a crap idea, they didn't fuck it up too bad. And for those die-hard old fans like me, if you listen real hard, you can still hear a tiny bit of the Aero of old. I don't even think the bong had cooled off yet...

Capn's Final Word: Well, a damn sight better than Done With Mirrors, anyway. For an 80's hair metal album, it's aces. For an Aerosmith album, its okay.

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Pump - Geffen 1989.

The thing about latter period Aerosmith is, is that they're willing to do anything to increase sales. I mean, they bring in these heavy rotation production dudes like Desmond Child to do what? Increase sales by making the record more sellable to 15 year old girls with lots of babysitting money. And I'm not even talking about just toning their image down from 'mean and ugly hard-partying rock bastards' to 'cutesy drug-free pop rock icons who take baths'. I'm talking about the pimping. The flash videos starring your insufferable Alicia Silverstone, the Saturday Night Live appearances, the Gap ads, soundtrack music, awards ceremony spots, half-time shows, etc. etc. etc....they're all done for the same purpose. I mean, what other rock band (I'll give you U2) is willing to pimp themselves so heavily for mass media? And you know what? It worked! Their albums sold! This one even garnered its share of 'hard rock category' awards, albeit in a year when there wasn't all that much serious competition besides Van Halen's odious OU812. Or maybe that was the year before. Whatever...I never did study my Late 80's Mature Hard Rock Bullshit 101 notes all that much anyway.

To be honest, reviewing these latest albums is a real chore, much like reviewing the last Van Halen records was. Oh, this band never got quite as awful as Van Hagar (and nowhere close to the abominable Van Halen III), even in it's most awfulest period, but I never found time to like this album when it came out (and I was 13) and I'll be damned if I like it much now. See, Permanent Vacation was poppy dumb fun, hardly a sniff close to the old threatening Aerosmith but all right in it's way. But you see, on here they push the formula further. 'Dude (Looks Like A Lady)' a silly hard rocker with horns? 'Love In An Elevator' goes it one sillier. t least that track still pushes all those Def Leppard-ish big beat *duh* buttons ('Whoa! Whoa Yeah!'...Mutt Lange oughta sue...) rendering the track enjoyable.  Vacation had that ridiculous 'on the porch' track? This has 'Dulcimer Stomp' acting as an intro to the by the numbers grunt rocker 'Take Me To The Other Side', which for some reason is always pointed to as some sort of huge highlight on this album. Why? I don't hear anything going on there besides some neat backup harmonies and some really really fake synth horns. No memorable riff, no melody, just slop and polish...and a passable guitar solo, I guess.

They also go all 'socially conscious' on their mega-hit 'Janie's Got A Gun', which is so calculated to be a hit it cops from the 1988 Van Halen hit 'Finish What You Started', except it's got more wimpy synth orchestra than guitar on it, and that makes me sad. 'F.I.N.E.' is supposed to rock, but where's the riff? It's like Steven just wanted to clown around and write a song based around marvelous lines like 'your mama thinks I'm fine...your daddy thinks I'm fine' and 'I'm gonna kiss your booboo honey...make it all right' (goosebumps? anyone but me getting goosebumps? fuck.). And, of course, there's the traditional massive album-ending tear-jerking bullshit mess 'What It Takes', which maybe isn't as bad as some, but hasn't improved on the old 'You See Me Crying' thing much, either. This is music for 15 year old girls to sing along to 31 Flavors with on Friday night. Not a bad thing, but not for me. I like music for 15 year old girls to strip along to on Baskin Robbins' tabletops on Friday nights, see?

What makes it rough is that beyond that, barely any of this even works on those fronts. It's just so goddamned poppy, but without hooks! And on the second side they even drop most of the hooks and are left with only the hair metal residue ('Voodoo Medicine Man' is bad.) So much of it sounds like Done With Mirrors material remixed to sound like, as I noted above, Def Leppard. *Sigh*...this is the direction of the future, ladies and gentlemen. I dunno, maybe it's better if you're a teenage female. That's certainly one hypothetical I wouldn't particularly want to pursue. Thank you and good night.

Capn's Final Word: So, in short, I like 'Elevator', 'My Girl' is a fun little jaunt, and on a good day I can dig 'Janie's'...but as a whole I don't like it and don't want to recommend it to you, my good friends. I will recommend it to you, though, enemies and ex-girlfriends.

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J.  R.  Gregory     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: You were only 13 when it came out? You're a fucking idiot.

(Capn's Response: You're an old fucking idiot. )
 


Get A Grip - Geffen 1993

Ugh...I don't like this straight out the box, from the disgusting Photoshop 1.0-enhanced cover art to the Cathy-esque hardy-har title (was that ever a cool thing to say? I always associated that phrase with fat middle aged women wearing sweat pants to work) to the vomit-inducing rap intro to the mind-bogglingly huge number of ballads...plus all those godawful Alicia Silverstone (it would be hard for me to imagine a girl I'd like to kiss less than her) and video-game influenced videos that continue to clog up VH1 to this very day. And to think that while Pump was up against the likes of Whitesnake and Skid Row, this was to compete against Pearl Jam and Nirvana...it took some balls to keep with the schlock-rock formula and actually have yet another monster hit record. But it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I'm the one that matters, gosh frig it!

First thing I'm gonna do on this review is count the ballads ('Amazing', 'Crazy', and 'Cryin') out straight off. I mean, if you like Aerosmith power ballads, you'll dig right into these, because by now the band is mass-producing the fuckers like hot dogs. I even know just how the hook is going to go on two of those (and shit sure nuff, they turn out to be frigging identical to each other) but 'Cryin' is just a little different and a little more interesting. Not good (the emphasis on the word 'crying' and the words that rhyme with it in the chorus annoys me to no end) but at least different from the other two. But without any exceptions, this stuff is musically bereft, melodically MIA, cliche-ridden lyrically, and so calculated to punch buttons I feel like I actively resist it when it's playing. The trouble all began when Aerosmith started writing songs for the prom dance and stopped writing songs for the freakers to drink to in the parking lot whilst not going to the prom. Phew, again...this stuff is not for me. I've said it before and I'll say it twice...I know where my allegiances lie. This stuff wasn't cool with me and my friends when I was in high school and it hasn't changed one iota. There's still a division between the people who easily fall for all these MTV hype bands and those who don't.

For the rockers, the opening 'Eat The Rich' sounds okay (not great, but at least it moves somewhat and it's nice to hear Joe rip it out...but I hear some Guns 'n' Roses 'Anything Goes' licks at different points, what is fucking with that?) but what's with the lyrics? I wouldn't touch this subject with a 10 foot penis if I were as rich as Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are. And I wouldn't count it as ironically funny because Aerosmith has always been about as subtle as a bazooka and I don't expect them to start growing a brain now...it's just a dumb joke for the blue collar idiots in the audience to chant along with, that's all. For the social conscious spot, 'Living On The Edge' is just fine. Those intertwining voices really do it for me, while, say, on 'Take Me To The Other Side' they didn't. The 'something wrong with the world today' uber-cliche pisses the shit outta me, though, but I'll reluctantly let it go. I mean, that's the kind of cliche that all the other cliches elect as their leader and carry little medals around with those words engraved on them...'Fever' is delightfully fast, but again lacks the quality riffage to make me say 'allright!', but at least doesn't take 'Love in An Elevator'-esque arena rocking to a silly extreme like the title track. And the closing instrumental doesn't blow.

For the rest, let's just cut it short and say it does improve on Pump-era puffed-up nothingness, but it's still cut from the same cloth. I'll simply forever remember this record as the one with the barfy cover and all the insufferable ballads on it. Of course, it sold millions, probably got bunches of awards, and everyone who had a hand in it felt real nice about themselves. But for me it's nothing.

Capn's Final Word: Another drop in the bucket, another million bucks for Steve and the boys, another record for me to ignore. This is 90's corporate rock without any apologies.

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Melanie     Your Rating: D-
Any Short Comments?: I don't care how many times it's been said,I'm gonna say it again-video music television ruined popular music.Bully for Aerosmith for coming back as the grand old farts of ?rock? (bleeeccchhh),and making piles of money from cashing in on the pity factor,at least at the start,and then just cashing in from clueless video-bred generations,but THEY SUCK NOW. I hate the hair bands too,but at least they were what they were,and (mostly) made no overt pretensions to being true hard rock or metal-Aerosmith had a legacy of some decent music to destroy,and pretensions of still being true rockers and legends in their own minds,apparently,as "true" rockers,lording it over the poor little
much-of-a-muchness hair bands who just wanted to make some chicks and some money while the making was good.

For all the much-maligned pretentiousness of bands like YES and ELP, and the wayward meanderings of the Dead,or even the naive simplicity of groups like The Zombies(not as simple as they seem),or a thousand other artists in the pre-video days,even ones I personally don't care for,at LEAST they were either about the music,or unabashedly about chicks and kicks(ie KISS for a while).

There are probably fantastic musicians out there(there MUST be a FEW left,it can't be a TOTALLY lost art to play an instrument well,even very very well),who will never be heard from because they don't or won't fit the image,either visually or musically. PLEASE tell me there's a kid somewhere who loves his guitar so much that he sleeps with it,takes it to the bathroom with him,and will one day somehow gravitate towards a drummer and a keyboard player and a bassist or whatever who did the same,and they will form a group that gets signed by some young naive talent agent and just blows the world away with something fresh and new and exciting in music-people who can PLAY,and organise that talent as an ensemble.And the world will be even more astonished when they see them-it will be a staright clip of them playing,really playing,and singing,and they may not be all that cute,or there may be "the cute one" in the group-but who will care,the music will be so astonishingly,achingly,wonderful and fresh,that that's all anyone will care about? And this group of my dreams will be so dedicated to making sounds that sound good,or innovative and provoking while still listenable(like the best prog),that they won't even be aware that there's such a thing as an "image" that they need to live up to,other than the one that concerns the direction of the music.

OK, I'm awake now,let me go put "Close To The Edge" on.

Anyhoo, Aerosmith since their "comeback" sucks cannonballs through a lead pipe.
 


Nine Lives - Geffen 1997

Third time really hitting the formula hard and what do I hear? As good as Permanent Vacation but with much better production, that's what. And a few more stinky ballads, but what's wrong with that, I ask you? A whole fucking lot, which is why I'm knocking this one down to a straight B, I rudely answer before you can speak. Yup, but let me repeat it...this album is pretty good, and downright excellent for newfangled clean Aerosmith. I mean, they stopped doing anything remotely new back in like 1976 (those guys died for good when they left Columbia Records, no doubt about that), but c'mon, you can't put as many decent rock songs on a record and not expect me to like it at least a little bit. They all sound fine, Steven's voice is still good and, at least coming after Pimp and that one with the mammary gland on the cover, the songwriting rules here. I mean, if I can pick a totally random song with a stupid title like 'Ain't That A Bitch', a sorta rocker-ballad, and find interesting guitar interplay and some decent howling and maybe something approaching a melody...and that's at random, I'd say this one isn't doing too badly. And I mean, some of this flat out rules the Good Shit Lollypoop, like the title track, 'Something's Gotta Give' (despite the silly electronic beats at the beginning), 'The Farm', and the hardcore speed 'Crash' (I love it!). All real winners, unqualified. Lots of heavy, hooky guitar and fairly hefty rocking. 'Taste Of India' is interesting in a 'Permanent Vacation'-way. And 'Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees)' is pretty fair. It's just that the rest blows in a very familiar way. Don't approach me with that ugly piece of disgusting called 'Pink', and 'Fallen Angels' is 8 minutes of the worst sort of Aerosmith ballad slop. There's so many things I could do in 8 minutes I would enjoy so much more than that song. Like pooping, or washing the dishes, or seeing how many live scorpions I could fit in my underwear before I black out. Oh, why oh why couldn't they have made this a 35 minute record like the old days? What I wouldn't give...I only want a new CD release to have 62 minutes of music on it when I choose the songs, dig? Oh, and even the best songs are too long, but that's a bitch to slap another day. Oh did I say 'bitch'?

See, but I feel weird because I like this thing that isn't all that different from the previous two I disliked. And the audience certainly didn't buy as many copies of it as that Get A Grip shitstorm, and the critics didn't come all over each other awarding it perfect scores like they did Pump. But, as I'll repeat on any possible occasion, most (i.e. non-web community) critics suck my ass for a record industry dollar bill, and the record buying audience are the ones to blame for things like Alanis Morrisette and Pink and Mantovani all that other nonsense on the radio, including Get A Grip and Pump. I, however, know what's best for you, and if you're going to buy Aerosmith albums after 1985 or so, you get Vacation and this one, and leave the others there to smell up the joint. If you really feel you can't get along without 'Other Side' or 'Elevator' or those insipid singles, turn off that Meg Ryan movie and buy either the Big Ones collection or the live album and thank me in the morning.

Capn's Final Word: Well, it's pretty darn fine when it decides to be. Darn near excellent if you cut out the shit. Bet they can't do it again.

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Just A Little South Of Sanity - Geffen 1998

Later period contract breaking double-CD live album that, erm, completely negates ever having to buy Grip or Pump. All the hits, none of the production gloss...songs don't improve much, but do improve a little. And they play the frigging things so by rote (except Joe's solos, maybe) you can set your watch by 'em. If you know how the song goes on the radio, well by damn, that's how it goes on here, too. On one hand, I wanted to reward this record for making all those post-87 singles (75% of the record) listenable (or at least more listenable) but wanted to trash it because, for example, in comparison to any of their earlier live albums, it blows. This is a live show for people who would riot if they changed one single damned note, a live show for idiots. Of course I mean in my opinion, which also says that Grip and Pump deserve to fill up used CD bins from here to Peoria. My opinion rules, and I enjoy feeding it crap like this from time to time just to keep it well-honed and shining. Back to the record...Steven plays the ham ('West Palm Beach!!!! What are you smoking?'...*shaking head* A former addict trying to connect with his audience using drug references is pretty goddamn sad), Joe wanks on songs he probably shouldn't wank on, the fake synth-horns stink up the Twinkie, the rhythm section rocks, and they're as professional as you could hope them to be after all this time.

Oh yeah, except for the 'You like the old shit? Where the fuck were you in '79?' quote to kick off disc 2 , which is by far the most memorable thing on the entire album. I'm sorry to burst your ego bubble, Steven, but you created the fucking monster that drives all your old fans away like it does. It's your own goddamned fault none of your 70's fans can stand to make it through all your idiotic ballads and riff-retard rockers you pack your albums and live shows with nowadays just to hear this version of 'Back In The Saddle' that sucks ass anyway...what, forget how to Rock? It makes me sad, because Nine Lives showed me they hadn't, but there's none of the good songs off of that one played here...

I'll go on...'Dream On', a song they've been playing at every concert for nearly 30 years, bites it, and has almost none of the power it should have. Joe shouldn't sing, but proceeds to do so (just like Keef...I guess they never did stop emulating their betters) on the weak 'Walk On Down' and 'Walk This Way' also suffers similarly from Tyler's inability to sing the thing straight. I wouldn't care so much about these things if they were really burning the house down like on the old live albums, but sorry...the energy just ain't there for me. Same with on the closing 'Sweet Emotion' which....God. It just sucks bad. No songs from Line, no 'Chiquita', no rockers from Nine Lives, no songs from Mirrors...okay, I'm bilivying your ragamuffin on that last one, but still...this is about as imaginative a setlist as farting in the bathtub.

What I do find truly hilarious is that Steven reverts to his debut album vocal style for 'Mama Kin'...oh my God, that is great stuff. Yup, my favorite moment on the record for sure.

Capn's Final Word: This is one of those live albums where at one point Tyler screams out 'Palm Beach', then later says 'Seattle'...and you can't for the life of you tell how they chose those particular versions to put on the album. Sure, it's better than a lot of oldie act live albums I could name (Pink Floyd), but it's still not good.

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Just Push Play - Capitol 2001

Have they finally shaken the 90's girl-rock MTV image? Ahhh, hell, no, but at least they're doing a bit better work within their narrow modern definition of what makes an Aerosmitty an Aerosmitty. While it's still quite obvious that they keep one eye on the charts whenever they put the pen to the paper, I'm fairly impressed with the singles that did hit off this record, even the requisite string power ballad 'Fly Away From Here', if only for the fairly ugly way Steven Tyler sings the song title in the chorus. That's not very touchy feely! It's like, dark and stuff...a tad bit of ugly goes a long way to cut the saccharine string/big baby beat nonsense that, even though they ditched their old songwriting stable that kept them in greenbacks since way back in '87, still pervades this album like a bad cough. Now that Steven and Joe are back more or less on their own, do they really need to have all this 'ear candy' crutch junk to prop up their songs? Did they consider going into the studio and playing clean, just the five of them? I suppose not, not when you consider that they had all that crud piled on top of 'Dream On'  thirty years ago, too. Only 'Dream On' was a driving ballad done by a criminally raw rock 'n' roll group and 'Fly Away From Here' is by a professional bunch of millionaires who don't like getting their hands quite that dirty anymore. Nope, the simple fact is that this album has a super high number of cheesy failures that only really come forward when you start to count how many of the songs on the album you actively dislike. I do prefer this record to Grip and Pump, because....dammit, you can't deny the power of about 4 or 5 of these songs.

Oh, they get 'em a little dirty. I shouldn't make this into an anti-Aerosmith rant when I really should be deconstructing the few good songs on an album that tries to get by without the great rock content that Nine Lives had. What else do I expect from this band after they long ago crossed the point of no return? Not a whole hell of a lot. I'm happy they've given me 'Sunshine' and 'Jaded' and 'Light Inside' and maybe one or two more, and I disregard the rest. They simply don't have the talent to fill up an album full of melodic and/or rocking ideas anymore. I should be thankful they can do what they can, then hit the road for another zillion-date world tour just like the Stones. Except I like the Stones new albums. And anyway, could the Aerosmith of 1972 have made the hippie hookfest 'Sunshine'? Nah...the riff ain't near nasty enough, and they weren't too bright about textures that didn't involve 'raunch' back then. The only song I'd count as being particularly ballsy at all is 'Light Inside', which not only has me reminded of late-period Butthole Surfers on the intro, has me reminded of 1982-era 'Smith on the rockin' part. Nice trick. Oh, and 'Jaded' is the best song they've done in probably 20 years.

I kind of wonder why they did such a bad job with the title track, 'Luv Lies', 'Under My Skin', 'Trip Hoppin', 'Outta Your Head' and 'Drop Dead Gorgeous', which seem to falter under the impression that people still give two honkie hand jobs about techno drum-machine beats in 2001. I mean, Aerosmith doesn't need to be pandering to the techno crowd, who no doubt lump in Aerosmith with everything else they hate in the world (sunshine, beer, football, the missionary position, you, themselves), and since they only throw these beats in on the songs that weren't singles, the whole exercise seems to indicate they replaced melody and decent lyrics with these tricks. Shit, I myself put together a few techno songs, and you'd be surprised how after 5 minutes with a drum machine you can already sound just like a professional hack that makes millions of dollars. Aerosmith need to give up the toys and attempt to recreate the circumstances that led to the song 'Jaded' and see whether lightning strikes twice or not.

Capn's Final Word: I like what David Lee Roth replied when someone asked why he'd made Crazy From The Heat an EP and not a full length album. He said, 'There's only like 3 or 4 good songs on a normal album anyway, so I just saved you all the bad stuff and lowered the price'. Aerosmith didn't heed the advice of Diamond Dave, I'm afraid.

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Brian Dickson     Your Rating: B-
Any Short Comments?: I happen to enjoy almost all Aerosmith, and I still think that Nine Lives is better than either of their first two albums.  Frankly I'm long past being a rabid fanboy of any band, and I tend to listen  more to classical now, but I still listen to Aerosmith on ocassion. The problem I think is that many people view them with  the wrong frame of mind. People who like laid back "cool" Keith Richards-smoking-a-cigarette- type of stuff probably won't take too much to an album like Just Push Play, but to me it has a lot of what I liked about Aerosmith in the first place - energy and enthusiasm. Tyler is without doubt one of the most upbeat personalities in popular music, and it usually shows in the albums.  Whether Just Push Play is an attempt to go more mainstream or simply an experiment I don't care, I still find most of it enjoyable to listen to, and I think The Light Inside one of the best things they did. I suppose the album is a bit like Queens' Hot Space or The Doors Soft Parade, in that is maybe too radical a departure from their standard sound (snyths for Queen, brass for The Doors, electronica for Aerosmith), but I think all albums are actually better than their reputation suggests.

 


Honkin' On Bobo - Capitol 2004

Arrowsmitty spew out an entirely unnecessary (read: they did it for the bucks) album of rootsy (read: shitty) covers (read: someone else's songs, since they've been wholly unable to write decent song longer than most of their fanbase has been alive) that pretty much meets the expectations of anyone who ever heard 'Train Kept-A Rollin' and ever wondered why this band didn't rerecord other highly familiar songs that several other people have done better anyway.  For those of us tired out by recent vital failures like Just Push Play or near-misses like Nine Lives, I gotta say that it's a pretty freshmaking feeling to hear the overloaded groan of Joe Perry's guitar kicking things off on Bobo, but the initial feeling of 'Hey! They're playing bluesy rock music just like God and Chuck Berry intended it!' wears off pretty quick.  Then I realise once again that Aerosmith isn't too great an interpreter of other people's material, and for the most part this material was chosen with the care and consideration of a nuclear sub sailor at a Bangkok harbor whorehouse. I mean, can anyone who reads this site with regularity actually listen to 'Eyesight to the Blind' and not immediately think of the Who's version of this song on Tommy? Or hear 'You Gotta Move' and not think of the Stones' 10-zillion-times-more-prescient version on Sticky Fingers? I know there's a finite number of classic electrified blues songs out there for bands to cover, and I know that this particular corner of music's playground was just about trampled to death by over-exuberant and under-developed British Invasion groups trolling for material to fill up their 13th album of 1965, (i.e. back when this stuff could still be considered relatively 'new'), but couldn't Arghroschmidt have tried just a tiny little smidge harder to find some fresher material? I mean, 'Baby, Please Don't Go', fer chrissakes? Why didn't they just cover 'Gloria' and 'Batman' and get a trifecta of the most cliched pieces of garage-band trash on the same record? Why listen to Aerosmith when I can probably get the Rock Bottom Remainders (including 'humorist' Dave 'Don't Say Jerry Seinfeld for Morons' Barry and 'horror writer' Stephen 'Human Speedbump' King) to do these songs for union scale? Or what about Kevin Bacon's Band? Or Russell Crowe's Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts? Or Keanu Reeves' band? Okay, maybe not them. But what I'm saying here is that an album of Aerosmith covers promises to be somewhat less than what you think you might get for the money. Don't look for cover under the originals, 'cos there's only one and it's a sadly leprous remake of the same unimaginative slow blues the band's been hacking at since 'Angel' so many TRL episodes ago. There's a couple of tasty rarities, like say the dobro-classic 'Jesus Is On the Main Line', but the lion's share of this stuff is as shopworn as a Salvation Army pair of Air Jordans. And none of it outside 'Baby Please Don't Go' comes within an elephant's prick of topping 'Train Kept A-Rollin' as the best Aerosmith cover ever.

Okay, big knocks coming forthwith.  The first major problem I have here other than some truly lame song choices is that Steven Tyler's voice becomes damn near unconscionable by about halfway through this album.  He's either in his blackface soft-shoe 'Big Ten Inch Record' 'I-wanna-be-Brian-Setzer-when-I-grow-up' mode or his Big Screech mode that's been disgusting for nigh on 20 years now, and neither of which is too much fun for more than one song.  Moreover, neither one of his chosen singing styles has the muscle mass to carry off something that should punch the gut like 'Eyesight' should.  'Baby Please Don't Go' may sound tough enough, but otherwise Tyler likes to substitute squeals for excitement and gimmick for power.  He doesn't sound like he's got a hellhound on his trail, he sounds like he's got a chihuahua gnawing on his nutsack.  He doesn't even take vocals on Mississippi Fred McDowell by way of Nick Cave's 'Back Back Train', which are somewhat catatonically performed by Perry.  Of course, Cave sounded catatonic on them as well, but in a sort of possessed by the essence of pure evil way rather than a just-another-day-in-the-studio way. The band, thankfully, generally sounds great throughout, with Joe Perry as dirrrrty-arse as he ever is and the rhythm section staying out of the way enough to be passable.  They are still a good band, or at least as good as they've been in nearly thirty years, when they're effortlessly just letting the rocking happen.  Riffs careen off the fingers of Perry and Hamilton like it ain't no thang, and I can't say anyone's lost too much off their game.  It's just that I don't find that I need any of this near as much as I need a few more great self-written Aerosmith rockers, so in final analysis my reaction to Bobo is very much 'yeah, yeah...what else can you show me?' At times they transcend their material and add a real infectious Boston, Mass hoodoo that sounds homebrewed and natural, but for the most part this stuff isn't exactly inspired. 

Capn's Final Word: Aerosmith have been honkin' on something else for so long that when they finally get around to Bobo, I'm afraid the joke's already worn out.

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Jack C. Your Rating: B-
Any Short Comments?: Everyone wants another Rocks or Toys. They got clean and their sound changed. Give them a break. They still put out interesting stuff. They try to put out a different sound. It's not going to be as great as their early stuff...be real...After a couple of listens, most of this album is very good. We should all hope to be like these dudes when we are 50+ years old. Go see them play live and enjoy...Draw The Line....
(Capn's Response: Give 'em a break? What, I should have mercy on their rich, aging, uncreative asses? Oh, and when I saw them live in October 2003, Kiss blew them off the stage.  So maybe we shouldn't be giving breaks, eh?)

Angelia
Any Short Comments?: You said Kiss blew them off stage? I have to disagree. Kiss, has admitted to lipsyncing, they used way to much fire and fireworks, and they dont even have all their original memebers. At least Aerosmith can play a great show without all the "special effects". But, atleast they have lasted the years, unlike someother bands from the 70's, and all the band members are still alive. And for the record, Run-DMC should be kissing Aerosmiths ass, because without them rap-music would be where it is today.
(Capn's Response: No. As much as it pains me to say it, and as surprised as I was, Aerosmith pretty much sounded like a half-assed bunch of amateurs on the night I saw them. Maybe they were all hung over, or had had some bad fish. But Kiss put on the better show, hands down. Even people who HATED Kiss thought so. Listen, you can see by my ratings how I feel about both bands, and that I'm NOT biased towards Kiss somehow. In fact, I think they were dunderheads and phonies even at their 'peak' . Believe me, I was PULLING for Aerosmith to put on a great show. They abso-fucking-lutely let me down, that's all.

As for your sincerely stupid-ass comment about Run DMC, let me remind you of what kind of shape Aerosmith's career was in in 1986.  It maybe would've taken another few months to break through, but rap sure didn't need 'Walk This Way' to get where it is today.)

Zachary      Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: I dont agree with a C+ for this album but in context with your other ratings, and what you like about Aerosmith, I can understand where your coming from, but a B or B- would seem fairer on your scale.    

For me, I like this album alot.  Instruments are real good, and I really dont expect more from Tyler than screaming...even if he is rich...But since my favorite Aerosmith album is their first one, my standards are lower than yours.  If i had to pick a second fav one, it would probably be Rocks, but this album is rock-blues similar to the first, which wont win any Grammys, but.... even the Grammys are not really about quality...anyway, its only rocknroll...personally I dont think awards should be even given to rock anyway...it cheapens it...its music for the streets and streams...Im not really short on mycomments...sorry...neat site though, help me make some good cd purchases.
 


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