What can I say about Aerosmith that hasn't been said already? Aerosmith are mostly here to be a shot in the arm for the credibility of my web site, anyway -- the band who, above all others here, are unarguably not a glam, hair, '80s, or anything else band, other than good, timeless hard rock. Just Push Play and the new songs on O. Yea -- Ultimate Greatest Hits are a complete joke, though, so I've written this page in the font Comic Sans to honour that.
Aerosmith were and continue to be a direct influence on every other band featured on this web site. Jon Bon Jovi was quoted as saying he wished he could be "half as cool as Aerosmith for half as long." Who knows, Jon… someday you might make it if you stop trying to be a smooth pretty boy! I've seen old photos of Def Leppard from before they were famous with Joe Elliott in a Toys in the Attic T-shirt. You can hear the Aerosmith influence in the work of most of these bands. Aerosmith were initially targeted by critics as being cheap Rolling Stones/ Led Zeppelin clones. It's true that they were never cutting edge, but this has very much worked in their favour. In 1983, Def Leppard moved the goalposts for rock with their revolutionary Pyromania album and whilst not a favourite with the critics, nevertheless became the coolest band in America. These days they are struggling to gain the place they deserve in rock history. By being cool, you run the risk of being a fad and disappearing. Aerosmith, on the other hand, were very popular but not hip or cutting edge, and their music has remained timeless. So timeless, in fact, that they really should stick to making their traditional sound rather than trying to be hip with pop records like Just Push Play. I'm not saying they shouldn't evolve musically, but I think they should remain true to who they are and not try to be fashionable. When you are a legend, you have the luxury of not having to follow the trend. Anyway, Just Push Play was their worst selling album since Done With Mirrors so they'll probably get the message now that people don't want to hear Aerosmith the pop band. In the video for "Girls of Summer", when the music stops and those kids are talking by the car, the way they talk is like something from a rap video and could not be less Aerosmith. Aerosmith: you don't need to try to be young or cool!!
Anyway, I'm not sure what those early critics were on about, because the funk influence on Aerosmith is huge… the swing feel in so many of their songs, and those sassy grooves were definitely distinctive. Along with blues and hard rock, Aerosmith have elements of soul, motown, and R&B in their sound, and it all adds up to make a heck of a band. Joe Perry is just an awesome guitarist too… a million miles from Joe Satriani, Perry is sloppy, bluesy, funky, with swing, soul, and style… He will always look cooler than you and he will always sound cooler than you. Part of me would love to jam with him, because he's the man; another part of me knows he would make me look totally lame. Steven Tyler will also always be the coolest man on the planet the wrong side of 50, even when Nikki Sixx breaks that barrier. His leering lyrics are riddled with double-entendres, wit, and wordplay that mean he can get away with stuff no one else could. I've talked on this web site about Motley Crue and Tesla being rock 'n' roll, and they are, but they all wish they could be as rock 'n' roll as Aerosmith.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who think Aerosmith have sucked since 1987. I love Permanent Vacation and Pump; I would love Get a Grip is Brendan O'Brien hadn't got his ridiculous grungy lo-fi mitts all over it and ruined the mix (songs still rule though). Nine Lives is an excellent and very under-rated CD. I even like Just Push Play more than most, but it just doesn't sound right coming from Aerosmith. Sure Aerosmith were at their best in their '70s heyday, but that's not to say they haven't been great since.
What a year for classic rock fans 2004 proved to be: New Van Halen, a Danger Danger reunion, a new Tesla album, Nikki Sixx's Brides of Destruction, but far more importantly... An Aerosmith blues album arrived at last! Okay, it was nearly all covers, but, crucially, it marked the creative reunion of Aerosmith and Jack Douglas. Buy Honkin' on Bobo today to send the message to Aerosmith that this is what we want, not "Girls of Summer".
Best album: I want my mummy! There's no way I can choose, but unreserved recommendations go to Toys in the Attic, Rocks, and Pump. If you're just starting out, you might want to get a decent compilation: Pandora's Box is a boxset with almost all the good stuff from the '70s plus some rare tracks; Greatest Hits does the same job on 1 CD. Young Lust is a 2CD retrospective which really covers all the best bits they did on Geffen records (1987-1998), and Big Ones is another Geffen compilation which goes up to 1994. The new O Yea compilation is the only comprehensive anthology, however, with songs from every phase of their career.
Personally, I started my collection with A Little South of Sanity, a 2CD live album which is still the Aerosmith CD I listen to most. It has storming versions songs from the '70s, '80s, and '90s. Maybe it's because I heard these versions first, but in most cases I prefer these live recordings to the studio ones. The guitar sounds are fat and the band is happening. It's a heavily mixed affair -- not at all raw like Live! Bootleg -- but essential having such great renditions of classic songs.
Official website: www.aerosmith.com
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