Analysis: C’monnn U Love Aerosmith!
Out today is Aerosmith’s first new album in like a decade — which is like a century in the life of an aging rock band. It’s funny that Music From Another Dimension!‘s pre-release life coincides neatly with the presidential election in the USA, for each is equally contentious, polarizing, annoying, and fraught with heated misconception.
Just as u took a deep breath and a fresh, fair look at each candidate before hitting the voting booth, let’s review what we know — and what we think we know — about America’s rock band, Aerosmith! Weren’t they much awesomer in the ’70s? Are u certain that they’d die without their hired songwriters? Have u dumped the baby with the bathwater and missed out on awesome deep cuts? Read on! It’s your civic duty! lol
Song “Seasons Of Wither”
Album Get Your Wings (second)
Aerosmith’s first ballad after “Dream On” appears on just their second album, one helmed by Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd) after their debut kinda sank. And though “Wither” is awesome, it is typical of ’70s Aerosmith in that its chorus is not awesome. It’s weak. Not exactly a fatal flaw — the band has sold 150 million units — but one that would foretell their post-rehab practice of enlisting pro hitmakers — and their enduring, much-decried penchant for balladry.
Song “Uncle Salty”
Album Toys In The Attic (third)
That “Wither” sounds thin and incomplete via its half-written chorus can be chalked up to youth and inexperience. Still, like “Uncle Salty,” the jam helps to debunk the myth that ’70s Aerosmith was aces but then reconstituted ’80s-’90s-’00s Aerosmith only survived on the strength of outside songwriters. Not true: Their chorus deficiency always existed, but not until the face-the-truth sober era of Aerosmith did they acknowledge the need for supplements (Desmond Child, Marti Fredrickson, Jim Vallance lovvve uuuu). That’s not to say that “Salty” is less than a masterpiece, just that every other part of it must rule to cover its hooklessness.
Song “Lick And A Promise”
Album Rocks (fourth)
No recurring part of “Uncle Salty” is as robust or concise as, say, AC/DC’s way of repeating a song’s title a bunch in its chorus. But songs like “Lick And A Promise” abandon words completely, and opt for some proto-Cheap Trick Na-na-na-na-naaaaaa’s. Again, I state that the song is a super-classic, sure, but not for the big reason that most radio rock jamz rule (ie. a huge hook). And again, this makes clear early that in order to be a hugely successful band in the ’80s and beyond — that is, without the benefit of youthful looks, concert-awesomening drugz, and stylishness — Aerosmith would need some songwriting workshops (not likely for druggies) or some hired help (not easy on Tyler’s pride).
Song “I Wanna Know Why”
Album Draw The Line (fifth, final before temporary departure of founding guitarist Joe Perry)
I think what bugs many about Aerosmith — and esp about Steven Tyler — is their kinda sweaty, desperate hold on super-fame. Non-fans (and their rhythm section) tell me that they should just make a solid rock record and sell it to fans of solid rock; they should skip “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thang” stuff and American Idol stuff and all the interviews about ancient infighting and drugz. I totally get that, but then again it’s not really human nature to earn a seat atop the throne that overlooks a kingdom and then graciously exit to resume your seat on a lawnchair by the pit toilets. (Look at fuckin Jon Bon Jovi that maniac changes his tune to whatever sells be it country-western, acting, or Dido.)
Song “Rag Doll”
Album Permanent Vacation (second album after reunion)
Draw The Line had three good songs. Aerosmith’s next three albums had about three more. So by Permanent Vacation, Steven Tyler had to bow to A&R guy John Kalodner or risk his band’s recording contract. So in came mercs like Child, Vallance, and Holly Knight, who gets a credit on “Rag Doll” but only contributed a tweak to its title and chorus lyric. So the point is, the Tyler/Perry duo could still muster a monster jam — “Rag Doll” is runner-up only to “Draw The Line” — though again, we can marvel at its hookless hookiness. Compare it to “You Shook Me All Night Long,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” and “Jump,” whose similarly slight choruses nonetheless have space for a listener to wind up and sing along.
U have read how Aerosmith jamz rarely have textbook choruses of standard hooking power — “Walk This Way” is a good example, “Dream On” a good exception — and that their jamz rule despite this. But now let’s elaborate: What is it that powers Aerosmith classics to their mind-mangling awesomeness, if not a instantly-grabable refrain? Well, there’s the wisdom of momentum; Tyler and Aerosmith are smart enough to quickly exit unsubstantial choruses and pack them in thrilling solos and verses. And let’s also credit them with great performance: Riffs are awesome and played awesomely, and the Aero rhythm section smokes. But those aren’t Aerosmith’s most estimable skills: Take “F.I.N.E.”, their best album’s second track, and u will be struck by Tyler’s sense of fun, of mischief, and of charm. These are rock music’s rarest gems, its most coveted connectors from artist to fan: Aerosmith is lovable! Ask yourself how many others are? Bon Scott? David Lee Roth? Dave Mustaine?
Song “Attitude Adjustment”
Album Nine Lives (the one with “Pink”)
I once hand-fucked a latte cup discarded by Tyler at a mega-mall signing event. He’d mistaken me for the Sony Music college rep and sent me off for a refill. (And man I refilled it.) cough But anyway it’s telling for a guy who’d fondle Aerosmith litter to state that 1993’s Get A Grip was a joyless, tiresome collection of eminently hatable bumper-sticker cliches. I remember shrugging and preparing to depart my active Aerosmith fandom on the day I heard “Cryin’”; so I was prepared for more hurt via Grip‘s follow-up Nine Lives — but I hatched a plan: I stole the album from a Chicago CD store. See, that way there’d be no weight, no expectations on this meeting of estranged lovers. We could just have a laugh and see what happens. Well, we ended up banging feverishly, so to speak, cuz Nine Lives ripz!
Song “Beyond Beautiful”
Album Just Push Play (the one with “Jaded”)
Though stylized and fussily produced, Nine Lives had a lot in common with classic ’70s Aerosmith. So let it not be said that Tyler and crew had turned their backs on fans in the hard rock sector: Nine jamz like “Something’s Gotta Give” and “Crash” were their heaviest since “Nobody’s Fault” and “Kings And Queens,” and just like in the old days, Tyler and Perry could pen a killer jam with a bum-but-brief chorus (see “Attitude Adjustment” above). But Aerosmith fans didn’t truly learn the meaning of the word “stylized” until Just Push Play: holy shit it’s overproduced, its every moment filtered and pro-tooled and panned and farted on until it hardly breathes. Even so, about half of Play is amazingly awesome: its charming lovesickness (“Luv Lies” and “Under My Skin”), its post-Armageddon weepers (“Fly Away From Here” and “Avant Garden”), its top-heavy rockers (“Sunshine” and “Beyond Beautiful”). However Play‘s other half isn’t swift enough to burst through the busy clack and jibbering glabber that clutters its horizons. That’s sad, but at least it mandates a follow-up; Aerosmith couldn’t go out on this note. And now exists 2012’s Music From Another Dimension!
Have a listen here! What u think?