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.
We are to the final single that I have for the ‘Permanent Vacation’ album and I am sure you will be happy to get back to the normal reviews as it has been 4 weeks of this album. The final single if for the song “Rag Doll”. The song was written by Joe Perry, Steven Tyler and Jim Vallance (Bryan Adams) as well as Holly Knight (Kiss). Tyler was furious that Holly got a writing credit because he says all she contributed to the song was changing the name from “Rag Time” to “Rag Doll”. One word got her a writing credit and it didn’t sit well.
“Rag Doll” went to #17 on the Top 40 Chart which continued to push the album to multi-platinum status…5 X’s platinum. The single was released on May 3, 1988 and my version is the standard U.S. version. The B-Side is “St. John” and both songs are the basic, standard LP version. No new mixes here.
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).