After the massive success of their previous album, ‘Pump’, the band took a little break in 1992. They started recording the next album in January & February, but stopped for some rest and didn’t return until September of that year to finish up the album. The music environment had significantly changed since 1989’s ‘Pump’ so I believe everyone was curious as to what they would do. And it turns out, they would keep doing what they do best and didn’t change a thing. When most bands faded away around this time, Aerosmith ended up flourishing even more. How did they do it?
First thing was they brought back Bruce Fairbairn as their producer as he has been creating gold with everything they had done…or should I say Platinum since the last album went 7 x’s Platinum. Second, they brought in some friends to help out such as Don Henley and Lenny Kravitz. Third, the record company wanted them to continue using outside writers to help so back was Desmond Child, Jim Vallance, Jack Blades, Tommy Shaw, Richard Supa, Mark Hudson and Taylor Rhodes. Damn, that is a lot of help!!
The line-up was still unchanged with Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer. The Boston Boys we ready to take on the world again. The album was released on April 23, 1993 and became the band’s first album to debut at #1 on the Charts. They released 7 singles on the album and selling over 7 million copies again in the U.S. It was the band’s third straight album of over 5 million in sales. If that wasn’t enough, the album won two Grammy’s for Best Rock Vocal Performance for a Duo or Group in both 1993 and 1994. The band was on fire still and the fans were eating it up.
My copy of the album is a little strange. It is a CD, but it is the limited edition with the cowhide cover on the front and back. The only thing it is missing is the the Chic-fil-a logo and a sticker saying “Eat Mor Chikn”. The actual cover of the album as shown above was done by Hugh Syme who came up with the whole cow theme with the Aerosmith branding and the nipple piercing on the udder. Really not sure how it relates to the album, but I like it. One other thing about the album is that on June 27, 1994, the band released the digital only song “Head First” which is was only available to Compuserve customers. They probably spent hours waiting for that thing to download over dial-up. And then were probably pissed because eventually it was released physically as the B-Side to “Blind Man” off their ‘Big Ones’ greatest hits album a year later.
The album kicks off with an “Intro” that should’ve been merged with the first track “Eat the Rich”. Both written by Tyler, Perry and Jim Vallance, the “Intro” sees Steven Tyler rapping some rhymes along a some cool drumming. And then ends with a riff of “Walk This Way” before going straight in to “Eat the Rich” with some killer tribal drumming by Kramer with a ton of people doing log drumming. There were 6 people credited as log drummers…insane. The song is full of witty lyrics and Tyler just rips through them with ease. It is catchy as hell and the bass groove on this one is sensational along with Perry who slays it on the riffs and the solo. It is a brilliant opening track that gets the juices flowing. So take that Grey Poupon and shove it up your ass. Oh yeah, the song ends with a massive burp. Only fitting!
The party keeps on going with “Get A Grip” which has another co-write by Vallance. The song has a heavy bass groove and some more killer riffs. Steven’s vocals are at times more rapping and screaming and all the backing vocals are layers of his vocals. Hamilton’s bass work is intense and he is prominent during the solo part. It is fun track and shows the boys mean business about having a good time.
“Fever” comes racing in with more bass, quick drum beats, guitars and harmonica. It is bluesy thanks to Perry, but the solo is laid down with perfection by Brad Whitford. It is more rocking than bluesy but you can feel that old Aerosmith sound still in there. The song is about sex which I believe is Tyler’s new addiction since he is no longer addicted to drugs. The lyrics are little corny with lines such as “the buzz that you be gettin’ from the crack don’t last, I’d rather be OD’in on the crack of her ass.” But you got to love it!!
Next up with “Livin’ On the Edge”, the band gets a little more serious with a song that was inspired by the 1992 LA Riots. It opens with Brad Whitford on acoustic. Tyler’s vocal delivery has a much more serious, thought-provoking tone. The song sounds more mature and keeps a tone that lets you know they mean business. The guitar solo isn’t flashy either, the whole things screams importance. I like the break where you hear the wind blowing and then those 4 bass drum beats before the kick back in, very effective.
Desmond Child finally helps out on his first of two songs “Flesh”. A synthesizer opening mixed with someone speaking on a radio show or an old movie, not sure what it is. “Flesh” is another song soaking wet with sex. You have Brad on the solo (the best part) and Kramer pounding on the drums. The verses are great, but the chorus is definitely lacking as it isn’t very catchy or memorable. It is not one you catch yourself singing afterwards.
Next up is a surprise as we get a Joe Perry penned and sung song with “Walk On Down”. A nice change of pace having Joe on vocals. It reminds me of his Joe Perry Project work and not what I want from Aerosmith necessarily, it is still a pretty great track. Maybe we need to hear more Joe. It is a little bluesy, but mostly just dirty and straight-up rock & roll. I’ll take it.
“Shut Up And Dance” is back to the sleazy rock and double entendres lyrics. This time Perry & Tyler get help from the Damn Yankees in the form of Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades. The chorus is catchy enough, the guitar playing is great and it is hard to find fault, but I’ll admit it leaves me wanting as something is missing. There is no heart or soul in the song. I won’t get rid of it, but it is hanging by a thread.
Then we get to the back half of the album which is full of ballads as we hadn’t had one yet and we will get three on the back half and all were singles and all were hits. First up is “Cryin'”. Co-written with Taylor Rhodes, this power ballad is fantastic. It is full on blues rock with horns, harmonica and great guitar work by both Perry and Whitford. Tyler’s vocals are layered upon one another and it makes it sound like he is singing a duet with himself. The chorus is catchy, melodic and memorable and it ups the power aspect of the song. There is a long, drawn out musical interlude that fades in to nothingness.
Next up is “Gotta Love It” which has some funky bass groove by Hamilton, keyboards and two solos. One on guitar by Whitford and one on bass by Hamilton, both great and add so much texture to the song. Vocally, there isn’t much that is memorable so for me, it is more filler than killer when you get down to it.
The next ballad is “Crazy” which is Desmond’s other song credit and the Grammy Winner in 1994 for Best Rock Performance By A Duo or Group. It opens with Tyler speaking or rapping some rhymes and it is kind of corny and once you get past that, you get a bluesy ballad with harmonica and Desmond Child on mandolin and I forgot how prominent that mandolin is in the song. There is another horn section orchestrated by David Campbell (who did Kiss’s Symphonic performance). Perry lays down a sensual solo that keeps in tone with the song and all in all it is a pretty good ballad. More laid back and less on the power, but still effective.
“Line Up” has a co-write by the one and only Lenny Kravitz who also does some background vocals on the song. It is a high energy song with elements of blues with the guitar work, soul with the bass groove and then some horns to add some flavor. It isn’t a bad song, it does keep you moving with a little head bobbing, but still not a killer track.
The final ballad, “Amazing”, is more of a piano based ballad. I do like how each of their ballads was very different. This one brought back the power to the ballad. There were some great arrangements on the song and you even had Don Henley on backing vocals. Richard Supa supplied the keyboards along with a co-write. The song pays tribute to the time the band sort of broke up and then had their comeback. It is really well done and Tyler has never sounded better and even Joe’s solo is perfect for the track. The only thing that hurts this song is that horrible fade out a radio is heard being tuned into a recording of “Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well”, recorded by Lucky Millinder. Tyler says, “So from all of us at Aerosmith to all of you out there, wherever you are, remember: the light at the end of the tunnel may be you. Good night.” Then Millinder’s orchestra plays as the music fades out.
Lastly, we get a very experimental instrumental called “Boogie Man” and it is a little haunting with its eerie guitar picking and the thumping bass. There isn’t much too it and it doesn’t really fit with the album at all. Not sure it is really necessary and could’ve been left off and the album would be better for it as it is kind of boring.
- Intro / Eat The Rich – Keeper
- Get A Grip – Keeper
- Fever – Keeper
- Livin’ On the Edge – Keeper
- Flesh – Delete
- Walk On Down – Keeper
- Shut Up And Dance – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Cryin’ – Keeper
- Gotta Love It – Delete
- Crazy – Keeper
- Line Up – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Amazing – Keeper
- Boogie Man (Instrumental) – Delete
The Track Score is 9 out of 13 Tracks or 69%. The album might have been successful and the sold a lot of copies but that doesn’t mean it is their best album. I do like a lot of it don’t get me wrong. It is heavy on the ballads in the second half which is a weaker side overall, there is some filler and I feel it is missing some of the rawness and heart of earlier Aerosmith. However, the songs on here that are good, are really good and those three opening tracks are stellar and get you really into a groove. I don’t feel they maintained that groove the whole way through. My Overall Score might be surprising to most as I only give it a 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars. I liked the first couple songs when the album came out, but I quickly lost interest in the band and that continued for some time to come as this was the last one I bought for a long, long time.
UP NEXT: ‘NINE LIVES’ (1997)
THE AEROSMITH COLLECTION SERIES:
- ‘Aerosmith’ (1973)
- ‘Get Your Wings’ (1974)
- ‘Toys in the Attic’ (1975)
- ‘Rocks’ (1976)
- ‘Draw the Line’ (1977)
- ‘Live! Bootleg’ (1978)
- ‘Night in the Ruts’ (1979)
- ‘Greatest Hits’ (1980)
- ‘Rock in a Hard Place’ (1982)
- ‘Done With Mirrors’ (1985)
- Run DMC – “Walk This Way” 12″ Single (1986)
- ‘Classics Live!’ (1986)
- ‘Classics Live! II’ (1987)
- ‘Permanent Vacation’ (1987)
- “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” (1987) – 7″ Single & 12″ Maxi-Single (Bonus Edition)
- “Angel” (1988) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- “Rag Doll” (1988) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- ‘Gems’ (1988)
- ‘Pump’ (1989)
- ‘Pandora’s Box’ (1991)
- ‘Get a Grip’ (1993)