Aerosmith – ‘Night in the Ruts’ (1979) – Album Review (The Aerosmith Collection Series)

Drugs…wives…tension. Those three things were all starting to boil over with Aerosmith during the recording of the band’s sixth studio album, ‘Night in the Ruts’. What is a night in the ruts anyway? Actually, it is a play on words for “Right in the Nuts”. Pretty funny actually. But wasn’t funny was the drug use was immense at this point. The band could barely function. Steven wasn’t writing lyrics, Joe owed the band money for his room service bills and he hadn’t been in the studio for months, longtime producer Jack Douglas was fired and Gary Lyons was brought in to produce, and the album was taking forever to finish. The band’s relationship with their label was strained as well. At this point, the band was completely and utterly out of control.

The album was taking so long, the band was forced to go out on the road and that was not a good place for them to be. More drugs meant horrible shows. Horrible shows meant more tension. More tension bled over in to the wives starting to fight and things got really ugly in Cleveland, OH on July 28, 1979 when Joe Perry’s wife through milk at Tom Hamilton’s wife. The band I believe already hated Joe’s wife so after the show, Steven and Joe got in to a nasty altercation and by the end, Joe Perry was no longer in the band. He was done and he was out!

Well, that didn’t bode well as the album wasn’t even finished. The band brought in Richie Supa to help on the guitars as well as Jimmy Crespo to finish others. Jimmy was the one that stayed and toured with the band until 1984. The album finally was finished and released on November 16th, 1979. It didn’t do well at all. It did got to #14 on the Billboard Charts but barely went gold. They had one single, “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” which didn’t even break the Top 40 landing at #67.

The band was a hot mess and their output showed as the album was lifeless, disjointed and not good at all. Hell, look how bad the artwork was as the band as miners was about the dumbest thing I have ever seen. The pictures are so bad. You have a band full of rock stars, make them look like rock stars!! We have Steven Tyler to blame as it was his concept. Man, drugs suck!! And in a classic Kiss move, notice that Perry is on the cover like he is still in the band. Wait, this was before Kiss pulled that stunt with Peter on Unmasked and Ace on Creatures. So, Kiss got the idea from Aerosmith apparently. So, they still showed the band as the original guys, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer despite it not completely being the case when the album came out. But Joe did play on the majority of the album.

My version of the album still has the album sleeve and I love it has the order form on the back side so you can order so much cool Aerosmith products and all their albums up to that point. I should try to send away and see if it still works. I really doubt it though.

After this very condensed version of the band’s events during recording, why don’t we get to the actual recording.

SIDE 1:

The opening track was “No Surprize” which is a story about the band. The song is a mix of blues and old time rock & roll with a Chuck Berry vibe on guitar coming from Perry. There is a cool line in it with “Vaccinate your ass with a phonograph needle” and I wonder now if that would work to battle Covid. Probably not. It is a great opening track and one of the very few really good ones on the album.

“Chiquita” was up next and it was a rocker and full of horns that sounded very dirty. The song musically, sounded pretty good and I liked the nastiness of the guitar sound, but lyrically and vocally it is seriously lacking. Strip out the vocals and it is a solid track, but with them, it is not boding well with me.

Next up is the first of 3 cover songs on the album. This one is the best of the three and it is The Shangri-Las cover of “Remember (Walking in the Sand)”. It was the only single as I noted earlier and I can see why the chose it. It is a mix between the rocking sound Aerosmith brings to the table while still paying homage to the original. Towards the end, Tyler goes nuts on the vocals and is really getting in to it screaming his lungs out and it is fantastic. The song has this strutting vibe to it like a peacock fanning out its tail. I like that about it.

Last up on Side 1 is “Cheese Cake” with some killer slide guitar from Perry and I mean killer. Think Zeppelin in style. The rhythm section is really great from Tom and Joey as they bring a really great groove to it. By the time the chorus blows in, I am along for the ride. It is a deep cut that I wasn’t that familiar with before and I love it. Might be my favorite track on the album.

SIDE 2:

Side 2 kicks off with “Three Mile Smile” and it has that classic Aerosmith sound which is almost a shuffle. The song though is lifeless and dull. It is uninspiring in both production and quality of song. I feel Steven is going through the motions and the guys are just filling up the album with whatever song is laying around. The solo leaves me wanting something more than what we got and it was done by Jimmy Crespo which might explain it. The only thing I liked was Joey’s drumming.

“Reefer Head Woman” is a Jazz Gillum cover and it sticks to the bluesy harmonica approach of the original and then they make it an Aerosmith song. Tyler’s harmonica playing is sensational and it is a proper blues song. Dirty, gritty and Joe Perry lays down a wicked solo.

The dirtiest song on the album is “Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy)”. A Coney Island White Fish is a condom. Not just any condom, a used one at that. It is a solid, upbeat rocker that will get you up and moving and another great deep cut. We needed a more upbeat fun track by this point as there hasn’t been much of that. The big standout on this one is none other than Joe Perry as he is a total madman for this one.

The last cover is a cover of the Yardbirds song “Think About It” which I think musically is killer, but vocally I don’t find Steven very likable on this one. I am thinking it is Brad on guitar with this one and he does a great job, the only thing I liked about it.

The final track is a piano ballad called “Mia”. It was a lullaby for his daughter which makes it kind of sweet. However, lyrically I am not sure it even relates to anything for her, it is more about the band. We’ll give him an A for effort even though the song doesn’t make we want to flip this over and start again and for that it fails a little.

Track Listing:

  • No Surprize – Keeper
  • Chiquita – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  • Remember (Walking in the Sand) – Keeper
  • Cheese Cake – Keeper
  • Three Mile Smile – Delete
  • Reefer Head Woman – Keeper
  • Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy) – Keeper
  • Think About It –Delete
  • Mia – Delete

The Track Score is 5.5 out of 9 or 61%. With only 9 songs on the album and 3 of those are covers, you can see that the band was not in any shape to make a record. They couldn’t even come up with more than 6 songs for the album and those 6 were not up to par with songs from the past. I found this overall it be a very poor album. It felt uninspiring, it felt disjointed and it felt lost at times. The first side is definitely better than the back side although the back side did have two killer tracks. Out of all the albums so far with Aerosmith, this was the one I was least familiar with and now I see why. It never connected with me and still doesn’t today. For all that, I give is a Score of 2.5 out of 5.0 Stars. Not their best work, but still some cool songs.

UP NEXT: ‘GREATEST HITS’ (1980)

THE AEROSMITH COLLECTION SERIES:

18 thoughts on “Aerosmith – ‘Night in the Ruts’ (1979) – Album Review (The Aerosmith Collection Series)

  1. Hit the nail on the head with this one – I always catch myself thinking ‘that one’s better than I remember’ then realising I’m only thinking of half the tracks. Way too much filler.
    I seem to recall reading that the cover photo was shot a few years previous hence Perry’s inclusion in ‘costume’ – it was that ‘you owe us for room service’ that was the prompt for his first solo record – though unless they were digging for cocaine it’s a pretty random concept

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cover photos, in a deep, documentary voice: “… and here we see the members of Aerosmith, digging for what they once had before substance abuse and ego pushed them to this point…” Of course, Mike is right, we can only know this in retrospect. In this internet age, we’d all have known, but in 1979, not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s