Aerosmith – “A Little South of Sanity” (1998) – Album Review (The Aerosmith Collection Series)

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.

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Aerosmith – ‘Pandora’s Box’ (1991) – Album Review (The Aerosmith Collection Series)

Columbia Records was taking full advantage of the band’s new found popularity on Geffen Records. Even though they lost the band to another label, they still could release Aerosmith material for everything they had rights to and that was quite a bit. They kicked off with two live releases ‘Classics Live!’ and ‘Classics Live! II’ as well as compilation called ‘Gems’. The cool things about those releases is there were no repeats from old live albums or greatest hits collection. It made it enticing for collectors. And this was no different. Released on November 19, 1991, this was a 3 CD compilation full of the bands greatest hits (while under Columbia) with a ton of previously unreleased material. That alone makes this worth getting. There are 31 previously released cuts and 21 unreleased consisting of live, alternative mixes and pure rarities.

I am lucky enough to have the long box version and it really is a box. It contains a book plus 3 CDs all in jewel cases with artwork. If you picked up a later version, the long box was replaced with a cardboard sleeve and the book was shrunk down to CD case size. The set I have is the one you want…in my opinion at least. The box set did real well going to #45 on the Billboard Charts and it was eventually certified Platinum on August 16, 1996. If I’m not mistaken, since the set includes 3 CDs, they only had to sell 333,334 copies to reach the 1 million sold platinum status. Someday, I might go song by song, but for now I am sticking to an overview of each disc and what I like about it each one. So let us get to it.

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Aerosmith – ‘Classics Live!’ (1986) – Album Review (The Aerosmith Collection Series)

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.

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Aerosmith – ‘Greatest Hits’ (1980) – Album Review (The Aerosmith Collection Series)

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.

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Aerosmith – ‘Live! Bootleg’ (1978) – Album Review (The Aerosmith Collection Series)

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.

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Aerosmith – ‘Toys in the Attic’ (1975 ) – Album Review (The Aerosmith Collection Series)

After a very long tour in support of their album, “Get Your Wings”, the band was tight and playing better than ever. They were ready to jump back in the studio and bring producer Jack Douglas back with them. This time around though would be different. Their first two albums used up all the songs they had been playing for years. Aerosmith now had to write a whole album from scratch. As a result, they would create an album that was spawned from a new level of confidence with the band and a more polished understanding of how to write songs. The album they created, ‘Toys in the Attic’, would take the band to a whole new level of stardom. The album would go on to sell more than 8 million copies and be one of their most commercially successful albums of all time.

‘Toys in the Attic’ was released on April 8, 1975 and was recorded at the Record Plant in New York City from January to March of that year. It would go as high as #11 on the Billboard Charts and deliver not one, but two Top 40 hits with one going all the way to #10 as well. The success of this album also saw the band’s first two albums get a renewed interest and so they would re-release the single “Dream On” in from the debut seeing it go to #6 on the charts. Yes, ‘Toys in the Attic’, finally saw Aerosmith get what they had been working so hard for over the years. Fame, Fortune and Drugs…lots and lots of drugs.

As you can see from the pictures, my copy of the album is well loved.

The band was still the same old song and dance of members with Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer. Everyone had at least one writing credit on the album except for Joey. Tyler had them on all of the songs except for the cover song they do. The band was on fire, but so were things behind the scenes, especially with the band members wives who didn’t all get along and would be a driving force behind a lot of the band’s battles and problems over the years…well that and drugs…did I mention drugs? These boys could not get enough of the stuff. That would soon become a problem, but not so much now.

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