It has been years since we have been given any new, unreleased material from Aerosmith. The last studio album was 10 years ago in 2012 and there were two live albums back in 2015, but nothing to light the world on fire. That was until Black Friday Record Store Day on November 26, 2021 when they had a “first release” of a found recording that contains the earliest known recording of the band to exist. The album is called ‘1971: The Road Starts Hear’ which is around 18 months prior to the release of their debut album in January 1973.
The timeframe of the release is sometime during the Fall of 1971 as Brad Whitford was in the band as he was the last cog in the wheel as he joined in August 1971. So, we had Brad as well as Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer and Aerosmith was born in the form we all know and love. However, the whereabouts of where this was actually recorded is in question. There are several possibilities, but no one actually knows for sure. We know it is not an actual concert as there is no crowd noise so thoughts are it is either a soundcheck or a band rehearsal, but whichever it is, it is totally amazing as we get a band that is fairly new, but extremely tight musically and destined to explode on to the world. The thought is it was recorded originally recorded in October 1971, Boston, Mass. on Joe Perry’s Wollensak 3M 1280 2-track tape recorder, but that is as much as we know for sure.
The packaging of this releases is lovely. It is done in an old school bootleg style with a sort of stamping vibe on a cardboard box type album sleeve. It is a single LP but comes in a gatefold with some very old band pictures in black & white. It also comes with an insert that tells the story of the album and the early days of the band. It is a fascinating little read.
The album sleeves are designed in the form of the housing that the reel-to-reel was housed with the song listing and even Joe Perry’s contact information that has the famous 1325 Commonwealth Avenue address of the band’s apartment from back in the day. I wonder if Joe still has that number…let’s go call it…nope, not him! Oh well! (kidding, I didn’t really call it). To keep the whole impact of the reel-to-reel that the source is from, the labels on the LP are designed to look like a reel-to-reel. It is awesome. High marks for the packaging!
The album kicks off with an “Intro” that has a lot of talking in the background which leads some to believe that they might have been at a club and rehearsing prior to the show and any guests. You can her Joe Perry playing “Albatross” which is from Pete Green’s Fleetwood Mac. They then go in to the original song “Somebody” which wound up on the debut album. It is a killer groove from Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer delivering the goods as an essential rhythm section. It feels like a jam session and the boys are having fun and sound amazing.
We then get a twofer of covers as the band sounds like a real bar band here and the not yet stadium anthem band. First up is “Reefer Head Woman” up first which is a cover of the 1945 jazz classic by Buster Bennett Trio. The band makes it sound like such a down and dirty blues songs with a Zeppelin feel and that blistering guitar sound which is Joe Perry doing what he does best. You have Tyler on harmonica and the band is playing slow and saucy and mindblowingly good. Then comes “Walking the Dog” a cover of a song by Rufus Thomas. The song has been Aerosmithed-up enough that it is their own. A crowd favorite and back then Steven Tyler played a flute (or a “big ass wooden alto recorder” as the liner notes say) but as they years went by that flute was no longer added. Another song that shows the massive blues influence the band wore on their sleeves. Earlier Aerosmith was drenched in it. “Walking the Dog” ended up on the debut and “Reefer Head Woman” finally found a home on 1979’s ‘Night in the Ruts’.
Side two kicks off with “Movin’ Out” and is this even better then the debut studio track? It just might be. It is raw, a little pyschedelic, a little raunchy and I even think Tyler sounds better here. It is a gritty and tough sounding band that hadn’t been molded and shaped in to the band they are today and that is a good thing. Next up is “Major Barbara” which is another blues track more in the country & blues style of old. It has a slide guitar sound, harmonica and towards the end there is even a little bit of “Merry-Go-Round” in the music which is strange, but I love it. Maybe we should’ve known that Steven would go country one day based on this song alone. This song wouldn’t see the light of day until 1986’s Classic Live! (but as a studio outtake).
Then we get “Dream On” and the piano doesn’t quite sound in tune, but the gist of the song is here. Actually, the sound overall is a little off and even Tyler hasn’t fully found his voice as he struggles on the high notes to the point he seems to be out of breath. It isn’t the greatest version of the song, but to hear it in its infancy is rather cool. And lastly, we get “Mama Kin” and might be the most straight-forward rock song on here. There is a guitar solo to open it up and Joey Kramer slams away at the drums and overall the machine is cranking in fine form.
And that is it, but man what a great find this was for the band. I am excited to have a copy of this and I can’t find any fault with what we have here. Yeah, the sound is a little rough at times, but give me a break, this is a rare glimpse in to a band before they had even made their first album. A collector’s and an Aerosmith fan’s wet dream. Between the package and the songs we have hear, it is easily a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars for me. I liked the bar band sound, the really down and dirty, nasty-ass blues and the pure rock & roll sound the band had going. A band destined for greatness, but on this day back in 1971 that this recorded, they were just a hungry band, wanting to play, wanting to make a living doing what they loved. What is not to enjoy about this? NOTHING!!
And that is the last review in the Aerosmith Collection Series and I can’t say I’m sad, but at least we went out with a total gem. Up next as it says below, we will rank the 15 Studio Albums!! See you then and thanks for stopping by and reading.
UP NEXT: THE ALBUM RANKINGS WORST TO FIRST
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)
- ‘Just Push Play’ (2001)
- ‘Honkin on Bobo’ (2004)
- ‘Rockin’ The Joint (2005)
- ‘Music From Another Dimension’ (2012)
- ‘1971: The Road Starts Hear’ (2021)
- The Albums Ranked Worst To First