As we mentioned in the prior post on ‘Classics Live!’, the band Aerosmith had reunited with Brad Whitford and Joe Perry and went out on tour to celebrate the reunion. That tour was the Back in the Saddle Tour. The band had been on Columbia Records, but jumped ship and signed with Geffen Records in hopes of getting back in the good graces of the buying public. They planned out and released their comeback album ‘Done With Mirrors’ with little fanfare at least that was until they were on the Run DMC cover of their song “Walk This Way”. That combination of Hip Hop and Rock joining together and being celebrated so much on MTV brought them back in to the limelight.
This new found fame was great for Columbia Records because the bands new deal with Geffen still allowed Columbia to release material they owned of the band, which was a lot. Columbia took full advantage of this opportunity and the first release was a live compilation called ‘Classics Live!’ in April 1986. This time around in June 1987, a little over a year later, Columbia released ‘Classics Live! II’.
This time around the album is mostly one show which was the New Year’s Eve show at Orpheum Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts, December 31, 1984. It had all five original members back in action. There are two additional songs from other shows, but like the other songs, it is the full gang back together. Nice thing is there are no repeats songs from ‘Classics Live!’ and four of the song titles were not on ‘Live! Bootleg’. There are just 8 songs like before so it isn’t a full show. It is purely a money grab by Columbia, but as a collector, I don’t care. I’ll take it. Plus, it would be 11 years before we get another live album from the band which we will get to eventually.
Back in 1984, Aerosmith reunited with Brad Whitford and Joe Perry and went out on tour to celebrate the reunion. That tour was the Back in the Saddle Tour. The band had been on Columbia Records, but jumped ship and signed with Geffen Records in hopes of getting back in the good graces of the buying public. They planned out and released their comeback album ‘Done With Mirrors’ with little fanfare at least that was until they were on the Run DMC cover of their song “Walk This Way”. That combination of Hip Hop and Rock joining together and being celebrated so much on MTV brought them back in to the limelight.
This new found fame was great for Columbia Records because the bands new deal with Geffen still allowed Columbia to release material they owned of the band, which was a lot. Columbia took full advantage of this opportunity and the first release was a live compilation called ‘Classics Live’ in April 1986. The songs were collected from live shows ranging from 1978 up to 1984 and there was a bonus track any Aerosmith had to have, an unreleased studio track.
Four of the tracks on here come from the February 14, 1984 show at the Orpheum in Boston, Massachusetts. This was a very important show for the band because in the audience was Joe Perry and Brad Whitford who were no loner in the band at this time. Of course, this mean Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay were on guitar. But that wasn’t the important thing about this show. This was the very beginning of the original band getting back together and would start the band’s climb back to stardom.
After ‘Done With Mirrors’, the band was not in a good place with fans, the label and themselves. The drugs use was real bad and it was time to sober up. First Steven got sober and then the rest of the band did and by 1986 they were ready for the next big thing. They needed a break. Something to get them back in the public eye. And it came in the most unexpected way.
The big break for Aerosmith came about because of Rick Rubin. Rick was working with Run DMC on their 1986 hit album, “Raising Hell”. Rick pulled out ‘Toys in the Attic’ and told Run DMC they should cover ‘Walk This Way’. Not a crazy thought as the band had free-styled over part of the song in their live shows anyway. They weren’t too keen on the idea at first, but Jam Master Jay was digging it.
But Run DMC wasn’t going to just sample the album. Why not get the band to come in and play and sing. So, a few calls were made, the band was convinced and Joe Perry and Steven Tyler went in to the studio to help out on the song. Joe played that famous riff and Steven sang the chorus and they even changed one line from “Give me a Kiss” to “Give me Head”…okay! Not what I was expecting.
Something big happened to the band on Valentine’s Day 1984. But at the time, they didn’t realize how big. While the band was playing a show at Boston’s Orpheum Theater, they received two special guests to see the show. It was former band mates Joe Perry and Brad Whitford. When the five original band members got in a room together, the magic started bubbling again. And by June 1984, the original band was reunited and were now out on the road for the Back in the Saddle Tour which would keep them busy until January 1985. One big thing that helped was that Perry was now divorced from his wife who the band and all their wives hated. And she wasn’t a great influence on Joe either. However, the drug problems were not gone.
After the tour, it was time for the big Comeback album. Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer…the boys were back together. They were now on a new label, Geffen, and the incredible producer, Ted Templeman was brought in to be behind the boards. This was supposed to be the album that brought Aerosmith back to the top, however, that didn’t happen.
Templeman was going for a rough and raw sound like the days of old for the band. He wanted to capture that tough, live sounding magic that they had on their earlier albums. He felt that was the sound everyone loved. A trick he used with the band was removing the “red light” in the studio that indicated the band was recording. He did this so the band wouldn’t get all stressed out when the light went. He wanted them loose and relaxed as he felt that would get the best sound. Hell, it worked for Van Halen. The problem was twofold, the band was still doing drugs and Ted was working in a studio he wasn’t familiar with so he never captured the sound he wanted. In fact, the band hates this album for that reason, especially Joey Kramer who thinks his drum sound sucks. And maybe it does. But this was my gateway in to the band. My first Aerosmith album I ever bought and as I result, I kinda like this one.
By the time the 80’s hit, Aerosmith was a mess. Joe Perry was out of the band and Steven’s drug use was way out of control. During the Fall of 1980, Steven was in a horrendous motorcycle accident which put him out of commission for months upon months. When the band finally went back in to the recording studio, things weren’t any better. After recording the first song and single, “Lightning Strikes”, Brad Whitford was done as well. He picked up his toys from the attic and walked away.
Was the band near the end? Probably pretty close. But there was an old friend that came back in to the mix. Famed producer, Jack Douglas, was back to produce the album. Jack had done all the band’s big albums and they really needed a friendly face to help them navigate this mess.
So who was still in the band? You have Steven Tyler, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton of course. Then Jimmy Crespo was still around after replacing Joe Perry and the newest member was guitarist Rick Dufay. However, he was brought in after the album was done and didn’t actually play on it although he was credited. The album is also notable for its price tag. Because of how long it took to record (1981-1982), the cost of the album was immense at around $1.5 million. That was an unheard of price tag in those days.
Aerosmith was a mess by this point in time. The drug use was out of control and during a show in Portland, Maine, Steven Tyler collapsed on stage. Even if that didn’t make matters worse, Steven was later in a really bad motorcycle accident that left him hospitalized for two months. It was a scary time and they needed a break. One way to do that was for the record label to release a greatest hits compilation which they did and on November 11, 1980, the ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation was released.
The album didn’t do that well as it only charted at #43. However, over the years it grew in popularity and has wound up being one of their biggest selling albums of all times with sales well over 11 million which would certify it as Diamond. Hell, I’ve bought it twice at least.
The track list was short at only 10 songs, but they are 10 great Aerosmith classics. While some songs are straight from the albums they were on, others have been edited. The album also included the Beatles cover of “Come Together” off the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Soundtrack. Now, they have reissued the album with a bunch more tracks, but we are sticking with the original track listing. Now, my version is the CD version of it for some reason as I could’ve sworn I had a vinyl of this, but apparently not.
Drugs…wives…tension. Those three things were all starting to boil over with Aerosmith during the recording of the band’s sixth studio album, ‘Night in the Ruts’. What is a night in the ruts anyway? Actually, it is a play on words for “Right in the Nuts”. Pretty funny actually. But wasn’t funny was the drug use was immense at this point. The band could barely function. Steven wasn’t writing lyrics, Joe owed the band money for his room service bills and he hadn’t been in the studio for months, longtime producer Jack Douglas was fired and Gary Lyons was brought in to produce, and the album was taking forever to finish. The band’s relationship with their label was strained as well. At this point, the band was completely and utterly out of control.
The album was taking so long, the band was forced to go out on the road and that was not a good place for them to be. More drugs meant horrible shows. Horrible shows meant more tension. More tension bled over in to the wives starting to fight and things got really ugly in Cleveland, OH on July 28, 1979 when Joe Perry’s wife through milk at Tom Hamilton’s wife. The band I believe already hated Joe’s wife so after the show, Steven and Joe got in to a nasty altercation and by the end, Joe Perry was no longer in the band. He was done and he was out!
Well, that didn’t bode well as the album wasn’t even finished. The band brought in Richie Supa to help on the guitars as well as Jimmy Crespo to finish others. Jimmy was the one that stayed and toured with the band until 1984. The album finally was finished and released on November 16th, 1979. It didn’t do well at all. It did got to #14 on the Billboard Charts but barely went gold. They had one single, “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” which didn’t even break the Top 40 landing at #67.
The band had been recording / touring and recording / touring non-stop for years now and it was taking its toll. The drug use was rampant as Tyler and Perry became known as the “Toxic Twins” if that gives you any indication of the toxicity of their drug use and relationship. The record company and management felt the band needed a break so they decided to put out a live album. I believe the record company wanted a clean, studio overdubbed album like every other band was doing at the time, but the band wanted it to sound real and raw.
Luckily for us, the band won out and we got a rough and raw record that was more representative of how the band really sounds live. They even took it a step further and made the album cover look cheap and dirty like a real bootleg album would look. You have coffee rings on the back cover and everything looks stamped and very unprofessional. One great thing about bootlegs are they are usually riddle with mistakes so the band purposely left the song “Draw the Line” off the setlist although it is really after the song “Mother Popcorn”. They were meticulous to make it look like a real bootleg. And to go even further with the bootleg theme, they recorded a couple songs on to a cassette and used that version so you get a slight hiss like a cassette usually has. I love the authenticity they were shooting for on this record.
The band pieced together songs from numerous shows over 1977 and 1978. They also threw in 2 songs from a radio broadcast from 1973 and those songs are obvious as they don’t sound anything like the other tracks and it does disrupt the live feel they established over the rest of the album, but we will get to that later. The album includes the same ol’ crew of Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer but that would soon come to an end…more on that with the next review.
Drugs…Addict…What do these words describe? It is simple. They describe Aerosmith! Rock band certainly doesn’t describe them because at this point, drugs were way more important than being musicians as that was what they spent most of their time doing..drugs!
As a result of this massive drug problem, their manager, David Krebs, thought he needed to get them away from the drugs so he shipped the band to an old Convent in Armonk, New York. But what David didn’t take in to account that drug dealers are basically Grubhub, especially if your names are Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. Place an order and they will deliver and that they did…in droves. So much so that Tyler and Perry were less involved in this album than any other. But it did give the rest of the band, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer more say in to what was going on with the album.
Producer, Jack Douglas, was back and did the best he could. The music is pretty straight-forward blues rock & roll and far less fancy stuff than prior albums. Heck, he was lucky to even finish recording the album with everyone still alive. The album took forever as they worked on it from June to October of 1977 as Joe and Steven were so drugged up all the time that they could only record in little increments of time. The album finally saw its release on December 9, 1977 and although the album did sell over 2 million copies (by 1996) and went to #11 on the Billboard Charts, it is still perceived as a lesser album than the prior two. It is also believed to be the beginning of the end as the tensions and drug use would eventually reach a breaking point.
The band had their break-through album with ‘Toys in the Attic’, then their fourt album, ‘Rocks”, would solidify them as one of America’s greatest rock & roll bands. The album would see the band go a little more raw and heavy as the band really let it loose with this one. They recorded the album at the “Wherehouse” which was the band’s rehearsal space where they took the Record Plant’s mobile recording studio and backed it right in to the space and did their thing. Producer, Jack Douglas, was able to get the band loose and wild, which I am sure the heavy usage of drugs helped. Despite all the drugs being used, the band was clicking and the end result fits the album title perfectly because the band ‘Rocks’.
The album came out on May 14, 1976 and would spawn three singles, two of which hit the Top 40 and would eventually go on to sell over 4 million copies in the U.S. (but not all in the year of release of course). The album would go all the way to #3 on the Billboard Charts and would inspire so many future musicians such as Kurt Cobain, James Hetfield, Nikki Sixx and even Slash all citing this as a major influence in their decision to pursue music. Heck for the longest time, ‘Toys in the Attic’ was always my favorite…now, it is ‘Rocks’! The band was still unchanged with Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer and for this album they were a true band, a single unit and were on fire…but not sure how long that would last.