After a very long tour in support of their album, “Get Your Wings”, the band was tight and playing better than ever. They were ready to jump back in the studio and bring producer Jack Douglas back with them. This time around though would be different. Their first two albums used up all the songs they had been playing for years. Aerosmith now had to write a whole album from scratch. As a result, they would create an album that was spawned from a new level of confidence with the band and a more polished understanding of how to write songs. The album they created, ‘Toys in the Attic’, would take the band to a whole new level of stardom. The album would go on to sell more than 8 million copies and be one of their most commercially successful albums of all time.
‘Toys in the Attic’ was released on April 8, 1975 and was recorded at the Record Plant in New York City from January to March of that year. It would go as high as #11 on the Billboard Charts and deliver not one, but two Top 40 hits with one going all the way to #10 as well. The success of this album also saw the band’s first two albums get a renewed interest and so they would re-release the single “Dream On” in from the debut seeing it go to #6 on the charts. Yes, ‘Toys in the Attic’, finally saw Aerosmith get what they had been working so hard for over the years. Fame, Fortune and Drugs…lots and lots of drugs.
The band was still the same old song and dance of members with Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer. Everyone had at least one writing credit on the album except for Joey. Tyler had them on all of the songs except for the cover song they do. The band was on fire, but so were things behind the scenes, especially with the band members wives who didn’t all get along and would be a driving force behind a lot of the band’s battles and problems over the years…well that and drugs…did I mention drugs? These boys could not get enough of the stuff. That would soon become a problem, but not so much now.
The band’s swampy blues, booze infused version of rock was ready to be unleashed on the world. So sit back and get ready to absorb the tastiness and nastiness of one of the country’s greatest rock and roll band’s as we now dive in to the music of ‘Toys in the Attic’.
The album kicks off with the title track, “Toys In the Attic”, which is rich with the guitar riffs of Joe Perry and Tom Hamilton’s bass groove which gets the juices flowing. It is fast-paced, a bluesy and gritty rocker that is almost punk, but so not at the same time. It is a fun-filled pack of goodness and the band just explodes out of the gate. You have to listen to the bass on this album as it is front & center and some of Tom’s best work. Really brilliant!!
Then the band slows it down a little with “Uncle Salty” which is more blues guitar with a little jazzy overtone to the whole thing. Tyler’s sings with such swagger and even gives us a little scream to add some flair to the track. The song is about a girl who is abandoned by her prostitute mother and shitty father and left in a home with a guy named Uncle Salty. He wasn’t a nice man and did not-so-nice things to the girl. Kind of a sad song that totally sounds cool…strange I know. The song was written by Steven and Tom. The vocals layers at the end are so cool and show the band is learning and stretching their talent in songwriting and delivery.
“Adam’s Apple” was written solely by Tyler and he gives his version of the Biblical story from the garden of Eden and it is full of sexual overtones of course. The blues rocker is a showcase for Tyler as his vocals are so front and center, but don’t rule out the others as there are some great riffage, a cool solo and spectacular drum fills to make everyone happy. Hamilton’s bass work is also sensational as he keeps the groove going for the band and keeping everyone moving forward. Not a super well-known track from the band so I would say a very underrated track.
Then we get what might be their most popular song ever with “Walk This Way”. The opening drum beat is so recognizable on its own, but when you throw in that Perry guitar riff, you are instantly sucked in to a song that takes you on a fantastic journey on a sexcapade adventure (yes, I am making up words for this). I know I keep repeating myself on the bass, but damn, is Hamilton prominent throughout this album and song. All the instruments are so full in the songs that you can’t help but hear each one perfectly. But it is the guitar work of Perry that is the key to this track. Well, that and maybe Tyler’s frantically paced lyrics and his deliver struts through verse after verse and explodes on the chorus to give us one of the coolest songs ever from the band. Now, it would go on to even bigger and bigger strides in the future.
Lastly on Side 1, we get the albums only cover with the song “Big Ten Inch Record” originally by Bull Moose Jackson in 1952. The song was written by Fred Weismantel and was originally a full on R&B with the emphasis on the blues part. The band kept to that rockabilly style and stuffed it full of horns (which are uncredited) and an old-school piano. The double entendre filled lyrics are a blast to sing and you can’t help but get lost in the harmonica, piano and horn instrumental piece towards the end. They showed that you don’t always have to have the guitar front and center to have a little fun.
“Sweet Emotion” kicks off side two and what a way to start. The album’s first single would go all the way to #36 just cracking that Top 40. Another Hamilton and Tyler track which explains that killer bass opening to teh song. Damn Tom is on fire. That bass line is so hauntingly cool and then throw in Perry on the Talk Box and you have a memorable, killer opening. Tyler’s vocals are pristine and no one can deliver a lyric like him. Perry’s guitar playing is on fire just like the pants in the lyrics. Kramer lays down a great rat-tat-tat right before Perry’s solo and his fills throughout are over the top. The band shows a more sophisticated side to their writing and deliver one of my all time favorite Aerosmith tracks. It is a freaking masterpiece. The song is supposedly about Joe Perry’s ex-wife and the riff she caused in the band. I guess she was the Yoko of the band.
Next up is “No More No More” which was a Tyler/Perry composition. It starts off with an acoustic feel and goes rocker containing a mixture of guitar and piano that gives it a classic, old-school vibe. The song is about life on the road and its hardships. There is a more laid back and darker feel to the song which I am sure is to showcase the hardships of the road and that it isn’t one party after another. A cool lesser known track.
“Round and Round” completely changes things up. The Sabbathy vibe of the song, thanks to Whitfords riffage, brings us a more metal Aerosmith. It is darker and not like anything else on the album which I am not sure is a good thing or not. It feels a little out of place despite it still being a killer track. Kramer’s use of the cymbals adds to the metal sound and Hamilton takes his bass deeper in to the depths of hell which feels like where the song was birthed. A little torn on where I stand with it, but I’ll keep it.
They end the album with a piano-based ballad. The songs has a full on orchestra thanks to Douglas and conducted by Mike Mainieri. “You See Me Crying” is also like nothing else on the album. They didn’t abandon the guitar as Whitford gets the lead on this one. A sad sounding track and Tyler gives it the emotion it needs and reaches levels I don’t think anyone thought he could hit. The song feels grand in its style and presentation which again shows where the band has grown in their writing. It might not be my favorite song on the album, but it is memorable and a cool side of the band to see them stretch themselves beyond what anyone would expect.
- Toys in the Attic – Keeper
- Uncle Salty – Keeper
- Adam’s Apple – Keeper
- Walk This Way – Keeper
- Big Ten Inch Record – Keeper
- Sweet Emotion – Keeper
- No More No More – Keeper
- Round and Round – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- You See Me Crying – Keeper
The Track Score is 8.5 out of 9 Tracks or 94% which is astounding. This album for me is the benchmark against all the other Aerosmith albums. The band, I believe, found who they were with this album. Their songwriting has matured and grown more sophisticated and they pushed themselves to the limits to bring new and exciting songs. I would say they succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination. With such classics as the title track, “Sweet Emotion, “Walk This Way” and “Big Ten Inch Record” and then throw in something as creative as “You See Me Crying” you can hear and see they were on to something great with this one. My Overall Score on this one is really easy…it is 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars and going to be a tough one to beat.