Released on October 28, 1998, ‘A Little South of Sanity’ was the final album to be released with Geffen Records. Funny thing with Aerosmith, three albums in to a 6 album deal with Geffen, Aerosmith signed a new contract with Columbia Records…who does that. At the time they signed the deal, they only had done 3 albums. ‘Get a Grip’ became #4, the greatest hits compilation was #5 and this live album was the 6th and final one. I guess Columbia Records and Geffen had a good relationship because before this 6th album came out, Columbia got to release ‘Nine Lives’. Only Aerosmith could pull something like that off.
But we are here to talk about the live album ‘A Little South of Sanity’. The album was pieced together from two entirely different tours. Some songs from the 1993-1994 ‘Get A Grip’ Tour and the rest from the 1997-1998 ‘Nine Lives’ Tour which was still going on after this album was released. And here is the strange thing, we don’t know the shows every song comes from which I think is nuts. Isn’t anyone tracking that information? Apparently not. We do know some songs, but a lot are still a mystery. What we do know are there are 23 tracks and almost 2 hours of live Aerosmith. That is perfect.
The cover art is said to be inspired by an incident where Joey Kramer’s Ferrari caught on fire at a gas station. Joey blamed the gas attendant for the incident. Therefore the picture of the gas attendant on the cover is said to be filmmaker Patrick Connolly. At least he is claiming it is him. I don’t know if it is confirmed. And it says filmmaker, but I don’t know what films he has done and I guess it isn’t important. Also on the cover, you notice the album got a Parental Advisory Sticker and it is the only album of Aerosmith to ever get one. It is for some of the colorful language Steven uses in between songs.
The album kicks off with “Eat the Rich” which is from Costa Rica on November 10, 1994. It is pretty much the album version as it has the extended opening and all that jazz. It is hard, heavy and a beast of an opener and a great way to kick off the album. Next comes “Love in an Elevator” from University Park, PA on January 19, 1998 but you’d never know they switched shows as the transition is smooth and mixed beautifully. Another thing you will notice on Disc 1 is that most of the songs are from the modern era, sober time of Aerosmith. They are pretty much all radio cuts and no deep cuts which kind of sucks. “Elevator” is slowed down ever so slightly, there is a great dual guitar solo from Perry & Whitford and the song sounds great.
The next four songs are from West Palm Beach, FL on October 5, 1997. First up is “Falling in Love (Is Hard On Your Knees)” and it sounds fine, but not a favorite of mine. Next we get “Same Old Song And Dance” which really slays as does most of the 70’s songs. The highlight is Tom Hamilton’s bass solo which is killer. “Hole in My Soul” is okay, nothing special and so far the two songs from their latest studio album ‘Nine Lives’ are subpar at best. The final song from West Palm Beach in this song run is “Monkey on My Back” which brings life back to the show with some killer blues guitar in the opening and classic Tyler screams who is on fire this whole song. Great tune.
The next batch of songs we have no idea where and when they were performed. “Livin’ on the Edge” is up first and they kept to the studio version, but it is shorter without a big instrumental break which is a big miss as live is a great time to turn a song in to something more than the album. “Cryin” brings us some great harmonica playing by Tyler and another song they stayed faithful to the album. Now, live I do think it is a little more bluesy which is cool. Lastly, we get “Rag Doll” which is a good song for Joey Kramer to really shine. A solid tune and pretty fun to hear live.
“Angel” is from Tokyo, Japan on March 8, 1998 and it is a ballad so it slows the tempo of the show down a little but still sounds great. It is a great version of the song and seems a little more stripped down which I think it makes it sound even better. “Janie’s Got a Gun” is up next and we have no idea where this one comes from but doesn’t matter . I don’t know if I like this as a live song as I don’t feel it captures the essence of the studio version song and is kind of boring. And the last track on the first disc is “Amazing” from Castle Donington in the UK on June 4, 1994. It is another slow song which I think hurts the flow of the album, a lot. This stretch for me would’ve been the point where I got up and went to the bathroom. It doesn’t mean it is all bad as Perry does have a good solo. But enough with the slow songs.
Disc 2 kicks off with another West Palm Beach show song “Back in the Saddle” and thankfully Disc 2 has more classic Aerosmith, but not by much. This song is killer no doubt about it. Tom’s bass is heavy and thumping so hard your heart beats to the rhythm. Tyler screams and we are off to the races. This is the Aerosmith I love. Then from Yokohama, Japan on March 12, 1998 we get another classic with “Last Child”. Brad Whitford rules the roost on this one and the song is down and dirty with a little funk added to it. Tyler is all grit and sounds great. Next we get “The Other Side” from Las Vegas, NV on December 7, 1997. After coming off the two previous songs this one is sort of a let down. Then we get Joe Perry on vocals with “Walk on Down”. Although Joe isn’t the best vocalists (sorry Joe), I do love this song and he does a good enough job. It is rough and raw and a is a nice change of pace from Tyler.
“Dream On” comes at you and from the first note your heart starts racing. One of my all time favorite songs hands down. Tyler still has it and the band nails it. More of this please. Sadly, we go in to “Crazy” next and it is a letdown. The newer stuff doesn’t really hold a candle to the older songs when next to each other. Sorry, that is just how I feel. From their hometown of Boston, MA on January 16, 1998 we get the classic “Mama Kin”. Perry and Whitford battle it out for supremacy and it is a tie as they are such a great underrated duo. Tyler is also on point here and I have to say I think the band prefers these songs better as they are way more interesting…in my opinion.
Then we get “Walk This Way” and no Run-DMC didn’t come out on stage. This is the classic 70’s version and the boys don’t disappoint especially Joey really lays the greatest fills here. The song is from Albany, NY on January 13, 1998 along with the next track, “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”. The song also sounds great and Steven I think tweaks the words a little here, but who cares as it is live and there should be mistakes. Next is “What It Takes” which is a ballad, but I don’t think it takes away the energy. Tyler sings a little of it a cappella and the full band joins in and it is pretty enjoyable. The final track from Seattle, WA on October 22, 1997 is one of their most famous songs “Sweet Emotion”. Throw in a fantastic bass solo and guitar solo and those Tyler vocals and you can walk out with a big old smile. It is Amazing (and not the song)!
Now, how do I score it? Well, I don’t like that it is mostly tracks from ‘Permanent Vacation’ up to ‘Nine Lives’. There are 15 out of the 23…way too many. There are no deep cuts whatsoever unless you count “Walk On Down” which was great. That for me is very disappointing. However, I do find it an enjoyable album and it does feel like it is one show despite Tyler screaming out different cities in between some songs. My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as if you are a more recent fan, this is a killer set and will have everything you want. If you are a bigger fan of their 70’s songs, stick with Live Bootleg!
UP NEXT: ‘JUST PUSH PLAY’ (2001)
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)
- ‘Nine Lives’ (1997)
- ‘A Little South of Sanity’ (1998)