Aerosmith – Part 2

After making us think they were the best band on Earth, Aerosmith drops a huge stinking turd on our ears, and then redeems themselves in true rock hero fashion on the very next album.

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After making us think they were the greatest band on Earth, Aerosmith drops a huge stinking turd on our ears, then redeems themselves in true rock hero fashion on the very next album.

Get a Grip

get a grip

I have tried SO HARD to like this album, forcing myself to listen to it at least a dozen times and “appreciating it”. But it just comes off flat to me every time. What made Permanent Vacation and Pump so appealing to me, is completely missing from this album. What is that, you say? Feeling, raw emotion, and desperation even.

In my opinion, Aerosmith became a parody of themselves for this recording. The mega rock star, commercial vibe is all over this baby. Steven Tyler especially is flaunting his sassy, rock star ego on top of the tracks and killing what was an otherwise excellent performance by Joe Perry. Joey Kramer, who was so great on the last two records was neutered by the producer and recording engineer. His drumming was missing that punch from previous albums.

There are a couple good songs, like Eat the Rich and Amazin, but overall this album just sounds like a record company’s best attempt at making popular radio singles. They did it, but sold their souls in the process.

I have one funny story about this album though. If you’re really into music you gravitate towards friends with that same passion. Abe Savas, who is now owner of the best record store in Kalamazoo, MI: Green Light Music, was one of my “music buddies” in college.

Every time we would hear Living on the Edge on the radio we would laugh at the break near the end, when the drums would come in with this ridiculous amount of echo. BOOM BOOM BOOM. Well, we heard someone down the hall playing this song and when it hit that part we both jumped up and down along with the beat, stomping as hard on the floor as we could. We ended up skipping the guy’s CD player and getting in trouble a bit, but we’ll always have that memory of rebelling against this ridiculous album.

Nine Lives

Aerosmith's Nine Lives

So, what do you do when you go 7 x Platinum, but had to compromise your integrity to do it? Well, if you’re Aerosmith, you break everything down, go to a new record company, and rediscover what made you great in the first place.

When my good friend Joe Bogan told me about Aerosmith’s new album and how good it was, I was skeptical to say the least. I had pretty much written them off as a band. Joe and I hosted a radio show Saturday nights on WQAC, Alma College’s radio station. At first, I didn’t want to listen to it, but he basically forced me to listen to it one night after our show over a couple beers.

Wow is all I can say.  The passion and raw emotion are back, the songs are more complete, and they totally rock. As you can see reflected in the album artwork, they experimented with some sounds from India with great success IMO.

I had a really rough time in 1996/1997. My grandfather passed away, I got rejected from all the grad schools I applied to, and went through two gut wrenching break ups back to back. You know the kind, where you totally lose all self respect and become the most pathetic human being on Earth? Well, I had a core group of friends that I leaned heavily on during this time, people who had my back no matter what. I owe it all to them for picking me up and pulling my sorry ass through it.

When I hear the song “Hole in My Soul” it always reminds me of those great friends. Joe had dedicated this song to me one night when we were on the air. Despite the tough times back then there were so many great times too and I wouldn’t have missed them for anything.

Speaking of great times, this song is quite possibly the best non-Irish drinking song of all time. Get together with old friends and just put this on repeat.

Thanks everyone for going on this trip down memory lane with me. If I’ve learned anything it’s that life has its ups and downs. Music and great friends/family are there with you through all of it. Make sure to appreciate those that are close to you.

D

Bonus Song! This is a GREAT song, but one of the most fk’ed up videos I’ve ever seen in my life.

Aerosmith – Part 1

I heard someone say once that your favorite James Bond movie is always the one that came out when you were a pubescent teenager. I’m pretty sure the same applies to music and these next two albums are it for me

I heard someone say once that your favorite James Bond movie is always the one that came out when you were a pubescent teenager. I’m pretty sure the same applies to music and these next two albums are it for me: Aerosmith Permanent Vacation (1987) and Pump (1989). Filled with songs of love gained (and lost), desire, and just rocking good party times, these never get old for me. In my mind, I always view these albums as a continuum of one great project, but for the sake of the playlist I’ll try to break them into two parts.

Permanent Vacation

Quite possibly the most complete album in my collection, this one is great start to finish. So much, that the one real single off this album, Dude Looks Like a Lady, just kind of blends into the listening experience as it rolls past. As with Pump, it’s an extremely rich production experience. It has a bunch of auxiliary instruments and sounds added in to give more depth to the music and it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t distract from the main elements.

Steven Tyler (vocals and harmonica) and Joe Perry (guitar) get most of the glory in this band, but I feel like the main driving force to this album and Pump is the drummer, Joey Kramer. He kicks off the album forcefully and doesn’t stop until it’s over. His drums are mixed perfectly with plenty of punch and just kick ass the whole way. I’m a guitarist, so it really is saying something for me to notice him over the other stars of the band.

I recommend listening to the entire album, but at very least listen to the first couple minutes and you’ll hear what I’m talking about. Joey Kramer, Aerosmith’s unsung hero.

NOTE: If you have high quality headphones or speakers, please listen on those. The crappy little laptop speakers most have will not do this justice.

Pump

What can I say about this album that I haven’t already said about Permanent Vacation? These two are extremely complex and rich. There’s a sprinkling of Native American sounds on this album, which is think is really cool and done well. I think I even heard pipes or some kind of synth among other things on Janie’s Got a Gun.

For as over produced as these albums are, they’re still raw and full of emotion, which is why I think they resonate so much with me. At their heart, they’re still solid blues rock albums that kick out the jams. You can feel the hurt in Tell Me What It Takes and longing in Angel. Even though these guys are mega rock stars, these two come from a place that’s underneath all that exterior.

Well, that’s it until next time,when I continue with more Aerosmith and a review that’s not so nice.

D