We are not on to the twelfth studio album for the Scorpions and it is called ‘Face the Heat’. It sees the band bring on a new producer with the late, Bruce Fairbairn and it sees them go a little more political as well as change their sound a little to be heavier at times and yet more contemporary. Whether or not that is a good thing we will soon see. As with most Fairbairn produced albums, we see the band go to the famous Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver Canada to record this one as that was Bruce’s home base. And with them being in Canada, Bruce brought in Paul Laine to work on some backing vocals and as you know, Paul Laine was my first rock & roll star interview so anytime I can draw a connection to him, I point it out.
The band saw their first line-up change in a long time as Francis Buchholz left the band and new bass player, Ralph Rieckermann was now in. This would also end up being Herman Rarebell’s last album with the band but we will get to that on the next album. The rest of the gang was still in place with Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Mathias Jabs. The album was released on September 21, 1993 and saw the band’s popularity drop significantly. The album only went to #24 on the US Billboard 200 and only sold 450,000 copies, not even going Gold. Was it the change in sound or the fact the US was going in to a more grunge direction. I think it was a little of both.
Now my copy is a recent re-issue of the album with the first LP being the regular album and then a Bonus E.P. added holding 4 bonus tracks a couple of which were bonus tracks on the European and Japanese editions of the original album. The first LP is the standard 33 1/3 RPM while the Bonus E.P. was a 45 RPM and it is important to note that because when you throw on the second LP, if you don’t make the switch it sounds like a demon is singing as it is too slow. Now, if you play the 2nd first and then the first 2nd, you get Alvin & the Chipmunks, but I’m going off topic now. Back to the album.
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.
‘Permanent Vacation’ was the band’s comeback album selling over 5 millions copies so the next album was critical…well critical in the fact that was the last album a real comeback or did the band get lucky. Bruce Fairbairn was back on the boys and they flew up to Vancouver, Canada to Bruce’s Little Mountain Sound Studio from January to June of 1988. The band had 19 songs written and whittled them down to 10 for the album. And was the album successful? Yes, you know it was. The album sold over 7 million copies, had 4 singles with a Grammy for their song, “Janie’s Got a Gun” and if that wasn’t enough, their song “Love in an Elevator” went to #1 on the Mainstream Rock Chart which was their first #1 ever.
When making the album, Bruce was focused on adding as many hooks as possible and they wanted to become more free with their sound. As a result, they ended up having numerous musical interludes between songs or should I say to start songs. It added a whole a new dimension to their sound and made things a little more interesting. One thing that didn’t change was their lyrics. The boys from Boston still rule the world with their double entendre lyrics and as a result, the lyrics were left out of the release as they were afraid what the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center). It turns out this caused an issue with some people so to remedy that, the bands tour book included the lyrics.
The album finally came out on September 12, 1989 and went all the way to #5 on the charts. The comeback was real and Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer were back on top. Aerosmith had solidified their comeback and they had done something few bands get a second chance to do. They were now sober and they were bigger than ever…coincidence? I think not!!
The opening track is “Young Lust” written by Steven, Joe and Bryan Adam’s writing partner Jim Vallance. The sexually charged song comes roaring out of the gate and gives you and idea of what the rest of the album is probably like as it is going to be full of melodic, hook-laden songs about sex, sex and I think more sex. The song is so produced and commercialized as that was the goal for this album to make the band as commercial as possible and it worked. The song doesn’t set the world on fire with originality, but it is a ball-buster of an opening track that gets the juices flowing with Steven giving his all, Joey laying down the beat and Joe ripping through the guitar riffs. What more could you want.
Next up is “F.I.N.E.” or I like to say, “Fucked-Up, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional”. Ok, I don’t really like to say that as F.I.N.E. is so much easier. This time around Tyler and Perry get help from the famous Desmond Child and as a result you get a more melodic song than the opener, a little more toned down and it sounds a little more like early era Aerosmith. The band sounds fresh, focused and so not-fucked up. Another song that reeks of sexual innuendos so much you might catch VD just listening to it.
“Going Down / Love in an Elevator” is up next and the little spoken word opener with the sexy elevator operator, Catherine Epp, oozing sexuality with her voice and her innuendos is enough to drive you crazy. The song kicks in with a blues-infused rocker that is catchy as hell with a Def Leppard style anthem that gets stuck in your head and that is what they were going for I suppose. Perry’sguitar work is sensational, Tyler’s vocal delivery is perfect and then the Bruce Fairbairn horns at the end give it that little extra flair and it all works so well. The song did really well as a single going to #5 on the Billboard Top 40.
Finally a song that isn’t about sex, sex and more sex. Nope, it is about drug use and the impact it can have on you. “Monkey On My Back” is another bluesy track and more Perry slide guitar. Kramer lays down an almost tribal drum beat before the song really kicks in and goes full throttle. Hamilton’s bass is thumping a nasty groove and overall musically it is a good song. Vocally and lyrically it was a little boring to me as the music was a little overpowering. Not to say it is a bad song, but compared the first three it isn’t up to snuff.
“Water Song / Janie’s Got a Gun” is another track with an opening little piece before you get to the song. “Water Song” has a glass harmonica played by Randy Raine-Reusch before the bass-riffs come in by Hamilton (who co-wrote the song with Tyler) and those percussive drum hits by Kramer the song lets lose and is an overly dramatic, masterpiece that takes you on what feels like an incredible journey and when it gets to that incredibly distorted guitar solo you are so engrossed in the song. The song is about child abuse and they tackled with such respect and crafted a song around it that is both beautiful and sad at the same time. The song went to #4 on the Top 40 Charts.
The second half of the album kicks off with “Dulcimer Stomp” which is a down home, swampy instrumental thanks to the Appalachian dulcimer played by Randy Raine-Resuch before kicking in to the main song “The Other Side” which was written by Tyler and Vallance before they had to add Holland-Dozier-Holland as song writers as they were sued for stealing the song from their hit “Standing in the Shadows of Love” and this was the settlement. The song is full of horns arranged perfectly, full of harmonies and full of hooks that will snag the biggest fish even if just swimming by with a quick listen. The song is a romping stomping good time track that rocks it out from beginning to end. A little over-produced and commercial, it still went to #22 on the Top 40 which was their goal to make any way.
“My Girl” is a very generic, old school good time rocker. It is a quick tempo-ed track and will get your foot stomping and head bobbing, but there is little heart behind it. It is a soulless song that is probably more filler than hit. It is catchy and you will get sucked it as that is its sole purpose.
Next up is “Don’t Get Mad, Get Even” which is another bluesy, swamp-filled song with an Australian flair thanks to the didgeridoo played by Randy Raine-Reusch. When the song kicks in it gets a little boring despite the cool opening. Tyler speaks more than sings and then screams and I do like the whole “Don’t Get Mad, Get Even” line, but the song falls flat and leaves me a little empty inside.
We do get saved with “Hoodoo / Voodoo Medicine Man” and this one is written by Tyler and Brad Whitford who doesn’t get many songwriting credits. “Hoodoo” opens with a khean performed by Randy Raine-Reusch who has handled all the weird instruments used on this album. After this little interlude, “Voodoo Medicine Man” kicks in and seems to be going for dramatic and epic like “Janie’s Got a Gun” and I think they succeed. Kramers drum barrage is awesome, Hamilton’s bass groove is killer and Tyler’s vocal deliver of the chorus all just gels and totally kicks some ass. After a couple duds, it is nice to the back half being saved by this one.
The final track is another single “What it Takes” and is the only ballad on the whole album. It is written by Tyler, Perry and of course, Desmond Child. The song is pure cheese with its emotionally filled lyrics sung perfectly by Tyler. The accordion gives it a little something different than most ballads. And ballads were so played out, but this one is too good not to love. It is easy to see why the song went all the way to #9 which helped propel this album to the 7 million sold figure.
Then there is a hidden track that is so completely unnecessary. It is an instrumental by Randy Raine-Reusch who plays the naw (gourd mouth organ of the Lahu people of Northern Thailand) starting at 5:19 in the hidden track contained in “What It Takes”. It sounds like a hillbilly stomp so doesn’t really fit with this song. It must’ve been something they were toying around with in the studio and decided to throw it on here at the last minute. Are we sure they were done with the drugs? Kidding.
Young Lust – Keeper
F.I.N.E. – Keeper
Going Down / Love In An Elevator – Keeper
Monkey on My Back – Keeper (1/2 Point)
Water Song / Janie’s Got A Gun – Keeper
Dulcimer Stomp / The Other Side – Keeper
My Girl – Delete
Don’t Get Mad, Get Even – Delete
Hoodoo / Voodoo Medicine Man – Keeper
What It Takes – Keeper
The Track Score is 7.5 out of 10 Tracks or 75%. It is another solid album by the band and that is two in row on the comeback trail. With four singles, four Top 40 hits and 7 million sold, I think they found their way back to the top. Yes, the album is over-produced, too commercialized and yet, it works on so many levels. There is still some old Aerosmith in their, but this is the late 80’s and they have evolved with the times without completely losing their identity. Do I like it as much as the 70’s stuff, no, but that doesn’t make it any less good. My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as they are killing it with this one, but still not my favorite work by the band. However, I can’t deny the impact the had on the music scene and how excited everyone was that Aerosmith still had some life left in those old bones.
The band was in trouble after ‘Done With Mirrors’. What was supposed to be their comeback album, flopped big time. The drugs were still a big problem. So the band had to make a huge change…and they did. They got sober! ‘Permanent Vacation’ is the first album the band has ever made that they were sober…no drugs, no drinking…clean and sober. And people reacted to that in a big way. Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer had a lot to prove and they couldn’t do it alone.
The studio that the first batch of help should come from a great producer. At the helm this time around was Bruce Fairbairn and his amazing engineering staff of Mike Fraser and Bob Rock which is one of the most impressive crew behind the boards every in music history. Heck, Bruce even played trumpet, cello and sang background vocals while Mike Fraser played something called a plunger mute. Huh??? Well, that is a trumpet with an attachment on the front that mutes the sound a little. I don’t see where Bob is credited with anything other than masterful engineering. The recorded at the very famous Little Mountain Studio in Vancouver, British Columbia. If you saw my interview with Paul Laine we talked about that studio a lot.
The second row of help came from some song doctors, however, this was one big area of contention with the band. They were forced to work with outside writers much in the way Cheap Trick had to with ‘Lap of Luxury’ that we discussed earlier this week. The biggest contribution came from Desmond Child who co-wrote 3 of the tracks, 2 of which were massive singles for the band. They also had help from Jim Vallance (Bryan Adams writing partner) and Holly Knight (Kiss and Cheap Trick).
On my Summer vacation back in June, I found over 20 singles with the picture sleeve. I’ve been through a bunch of them so far and now we are tackling the Bon Jovi singles that I found. There were 5 Singles found and we kicked it off with the following:
Now it is time for another ‘New Jersey’ single with “Born to be My Baby”. This was the second single off the album and did pretty dang great going all the way to #3 on the Billboard Top 100 and it was one of 5 Top 10 Singles off this album…crazy!!! It was another track written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and of course, Desmond Child. There is no denying his impact with the band.
As you can see from above that the B-Side is “Love For Sale” also from the same album. However, that is WRONG!!! Ok, not really, that is truly the B-Side, but my copy is not normal. It is actually a promo that was sent out using the regular single cover. So, my copy has “Born to Be My Baby” on both sides. It even says on the single label, “Promotional Copy – Not For Sale” which I think is cool. Like some older promos that I have which has one side Stereo and one side Mono, this one is all Stereo and the same song on each side, no differences.
For My Sunday Song #244, we are going to discuss the song “Elegantly Wasted” by the band INXS. The song is the title track to the 1997 album of the same same. The album and song were produced by the great Bruce Fairbairn and was written by Michael Hutchence and Andrew Farriss. The song was the first single off the album but the song did not chart on the Billboard Top 40.
It is believe the song was inspired by a night out that Michael had with Bono from the band U2. And from the lyrics it sounds like they had a good time. It sounds like Bono lives the good life and they saw a lot of things that weren’t actually morally decent. Michael realizes that it really isn’t the good life. I don’t know if it is really about Bono or just Michael blasting the media for the trashy coverage he received from the tabloids. Either way, it is a fun song to play when on the dance floor.
An interesting story I have read about the song, apparently Michael went back in to the studio after the song was finished and added another line to the chorus after an altercation he had with the Gallagher brothers from Oasis at the 1996 Brit Awards. When accepting an award presented to him by Michael, Noel made the following statement…”Has-beens should not be presenting awards to gonna-be’s.” This pissed off Michael and he went and added the line “I’m Better than Oasis” to the song. Now, I don’t know if I believe it or not as it is really hard to tell.
After the very successful Reunion Tour from 1996-1997, it was time for the original band members to put other their first album in 20 years with the Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter. The last one they did together was 1979’s ‘Dynasty’. Let me tell you, I was super excited to get a new album with only the original 4 guys. I couldn’t wait. I would get to hear Ace rip solos and cool riffs on every song and Peter would bang those drums until the cows came home. Man, I am getting goosebumps just thinking about it. Now imagine my surprise when it wasn’t even close to the build up.
Yes, it was a new album that did feature all four original members. Their pictures are on the front, they each sing song, but it was far from only being the original four guys. Ace appears on only 2 of the 10 songs and Peter sings on 2 and only plays drums on 1. Nothing seems to have changed as ‘Dynasty’ was also an album Ace and Peter slightly appeared on as well. Gene and Paul still rule the roost and do things the way they want to do them. Ace does appear on the Japanese only track so on that release he is on 3 of the 11 tracks. The only song that features all four members is the Ace sung song “Into the Void” which we will discuss later. To be fair, the reason behind Ace and Peter not getting to play much as they were trying to renegotiate their contracts with Kiss and I don’t think that sit real well with Gene and Paul.
Imagine this, you are extremely young and you get a record deal. You are set to make your first album and the label picks the great Bruce Fairbairn to produce your album. How stoked you must be. You are about to make it big time and be famous worldwide and be the big rock star you were meant to be. All your dreams were about to come true. I am sure that was what Paul Laine was thinking…I know I would have been.
But for some strange reason, that didn’t happen with this album. However, Paul would go on to make it in the industry and he is still very active today and I bet makes a pretty good living with his music. I don’t know why this album didn’t take off, but for some reason it didn’t. It was 1990 and we were at the tail end of the 80’s Rock scene and Grunge was coming on fast so I am writing it off to that as the issue because it sure as hell wasn’t the music’s fault.
In my producer extraordinaire series, this is the 3rd producer who helped create some of my favorite albums. The first post in the series was for Robert John “Mutt” Lange and then second post was for Brendan O’Brien. Both legendary producers.
Bruce Fairbairn didn’t have as long as career as the first two guys due to his untimely death back in 1999. However, during his brief time, he crafted some of the most memorable albums of the 80’s & 90’s and the albums sold well over 65 million copies if you just count the platinum and gold albums.
It all started in back in Canada in the late 70’s when he started out producing for a band called Prism. Prism had moderate success in Canada, but not much internationally. In 1980, Bruce started production on the debut album for another Canadian band called Loverboy. Loverboy opened the doors for Bruce with the bands international appeal. He produced 4 albums with Loverboy in the 80’s. They were as follows: