After ‘Done With Mirrors’, the band was not in a good place with fans, the label and themselves. The drugs use was real bad and it was time to sober up. First Steven got sober and then the rest of the band did and by 1986 they were ready for the next big thing. They needed a break. Something to get them back in the public eye. And it came in the most unexpected way.
The big break for Aerosmith came about because of Rick Rubin. Rick was working with Run DMC on their 1986 hit album, “Raising Hell”. Rick pulled out ‘Toys in the Attic’ and told Run DMC they should cover ‘Walk This Way’. Not a crazy thought as the band had free-styled over part of the song in their live shows anyway. They weren’t too keen on the idea at first, but Jam Master Jay was digging it.
But Run DMC wasn’t going to just sample the album. Why not get the band to come in and play and sing. So, a few calls were made, the band was convinced and Joe Perry and Steven Tyler went in to the studio to help out on the song. Joe played that famous riff and Steven sang the chorus and they even changed one line from “Give me a Kiss” to “Give me Head”…okay! Not what I was expecting.
The song came out on July 4, 1986 and it exploded. The song went to #4 on the Billboard Top 40 and it sold like crazy going Platinum. The radio played it to death as it was on Hip Hop radio, Rock Radio and Top 40 Stations. It was a groundbreaking song and that was because it was really the first big hip hop & rock collaboration that crossed-over into the hip hop world and to the rock & pop world. The song even helped take hip hop and rap mainstream and that genre would go and take over radio years later. The song also helped revitalized a very stalled career and gave Aerosmith that break and brought the band back into the limelight and they would go on to release numerous chart topping albums afterwards.
The music video for the song was played constantly on MTV and featured both Run DMC as well as Joe Perry and Steven Tyler (the rest of the band was not in the video although there were some people posing as their band). The video had the bands in separate studio spaces competing back and forth on who could out do the other for being louder. Eventually, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry break through the wall and Steven screams out “Walk This Way”. If it wasn’t for MTV playing a video from a Rap group in an era of Glam and Hair Metal, who knows what would’ve happened but this pushed the boundaries on what MTV played as well. I’m telling you, as I said earlier, it was groundbreaking!!
The B-Side is listed as an instrumental version of the song, but it truly isn’t just an instrumental unless of course you consider Steven’s Tyler’s vocals as an instrument. Steven’s voice is all you hear on the song and it is only once near the beginning when he sings “Walk this Way” several times. The rest is just the Run DMC mix with Joe Perry’s badass guitars. One cool thing on the vinyl is that there is a drum loop that goes on forever and never stops. Most final songs run out in to the groove before the label and no sound but a hiss. This just keeps on playing that drum loop. I kinda dig it. Now go give the song a listen.
And now back to our regularly scheduled albums…