I will admit that when I first heard earlier this year that Aerosmith was putting out a new album of original material that I was a little concerned. Their last studio effort, Honkin on Bobo, was not my cup of tea. But then I heard that they were using Jack Douglas as their producer. My ears perked up. What is this? Jack Douglas? Producer of such classics as Get Your Wings, Toys in the Attic, and Rocks? And Johnny Depp wrote a song with Steven Tyler for the record? Well, surely this could be interesting….as in disastrous or great, who knows?
I grew up in the 70’s listening to classics like Sweet Emotion, Walk this Way, Last Child, and Train Kept A-Rollin. I saw pictures in Hit Parader and Creem magazine of Tyler and Perry – aka the Toxic Twins. The stories are legendary – the in-fighting, the drugs, the women, the rise and fall, the clean up, the comeback, more in-fighting, more drugs. They are America’s Greatest Rock n Roll Band, the Bad Boys from Boston – Tyler, Perry, Whitford, Hamilton, and Kramer.
Well, I checked them out on the Today show appearance where they played one of the new songs from Music From Another Dimension. Eh, it was ok…Not too sure about the chorus. I haven’t been all that impressed with a complete Aerosmith album since their 1989 release Pump. But it is Aerosmith, so I got the album and gave it a listen.
“There is nothing wrong with your perception of reality. Do not attempt to adjust the illusion. We control the harmonics. We control your emotions. We will move you to the left. We will move you to the right. We can reduce your volume to a whisper or increase it to a deafening roar. Now is the time to submit quietly. We control all you hear and feel. You are about to enter a great adventure and experience of odd and mystery, from your ultimate fantasies to your deepest fears, from which you may never return.”
LUV XXX – As soon as Joey Kramer’s drum kicks in, the ass-kicking starts early and strong. With lyrical prose reminiscent of the Beatles (Julian Lennon sings backup), this is a tune that makes you want to move. Groove-ridden riffs with the unmistakable rasp of Tyler’s voice is the perfect top to a solid bottom end.
Oh Yeah – Lyrically not the strongest track on the album. The guitar licks are classic Perry though. It does carry some pop sensibility and is radio friendly. Good pick for a single.
Beautiful – Pop-rock love song with a sexy groove. Hard, psychedelic, and smooth with the classic Aerosmith false ending mid way through this tale of love and friendship.
Tell Me – Mid tempo ballad starts off acoustic then the drums kick in and give it power. Tyler asks why things went wrong but you aren’t sure if it is a lover or Joe he is talking to.
Out Go the Lights -Classic dirty double entendre laced lyrics and a killer groove. “Lick her in the front then poke in the back……..If you wanna take a lookie, cookie” How can you not love that? This is a track that makes you wanna move and while the smirk of a dirty mind makes your lips curl.
Legendary Child – Pop-friendly riffs with a strong Kramer/Hamilton combo holding down the bottom end. An Aero-story of the highs, lows, trials and tribulations of the life of a rock star. Perfect for the classic fan.
What Could Have Been Love – No one does love gone wrong better than Aerosmith. This one reminds me of You See me Cryin and What it Takes in the sense that Tyler reaches deep into his soul and lyrically let’s you take a peek at the pain.
Street Jesus – Street noise starts off this choppy drum beat driven song. From there it blasts into an energetic frenzy of guitars and classic Tyler lyrics. This could have easily come from Pump, Get a Grip, or Toys in the Attic. All aspects of the Aerosmith we know and love combined in one. One of the best on the album.
Can’t Stop Loving You – This duet with Carrie Underwood shows off her rock range and the harmony with Steven is magical. Aerosmith is one of the few rock bands that can put a country feel to a ballad and not make it offend the classic fan. Carrie’s Oklahoma twang just adds depth to the grittiness of the dual guitars of Perry and Whitford.
Lover A Lot – Pounding drums, dirty guitars, and Tyler’s gravely rasp knocks you on your ass and keeps going. Love the harmonizing and catchy hook. One of the best on the album. Bringing the kids into the fold, Joey Kramer’s son Jesse Sky earns co-writing credits on this track.
We All Fall Down – Falling off the wagon is never a pretty road as the boys in Aerosmith know. Tyler’s recent admission of the 2000’s relapse gives this track a truth to the reality of addiction; how easy it is to get into old habits and gives hope that someone else has been there before and relieves the shame. “I will catch you…..”
Freedom Fighter – Written with Johnny Depp, this is very reminiscent of ‘Rocks’ era Aerosmith. It kicks off with a deep guitar riff and doesn’t let go. Perry takes the lead vocals on this one and rightfully so. His raspy voice is perfect for this song with Tyler harmonizing on the bridge.
Closer – You can hear the rip on the Beatles ‘She’s So Heavy’ with hints of Seasons of Wither and Nobody’s Fault all through this track. Jack Douglas obviously had a big influence on the style. Bringing their influences and classics together in one smooth ride.
Something – Funky, sexy, and bluesy; the embodiment of Aerosmith. Steven Tyler pounds the drums on this track with such power, pushing this track harder and harder.
Another Last Goodbye – A not so subtle rip on She’s Leaving Home graces the chorus on this piano ballad with Tyler’s heartfelt screech telling the story of another broken heart. Beautiful strings and a strong bass line draw you in and leaves you bleeding. “And then you go and leave me….pissed off and alone….”
Bonus Tracks – available on the Deluxe version
Up On a Mountain – Hamilton takes lead vocals on this track and gives an unusual edge to this bonus track. Without Tyler’s background vocals, one would be hard-pressed to determine this is an Aerosmith tune. “Oh no, Oh no, this ain’t what I came here for…..I’ve got to find out what is you and what is me”. Kramer and Hamilton really go to town on pulling this song together…pushing that beat to the forefront.
Oasis in the Night – Bluesy and sexy, this track is a gem. A smooth little song that reminds you of sitting around a campfire on the beach with your lover. The deep breathy vocal of Joe reminds you of the softer side of the guitar god.
Sunny Side of Love – Little ditty that reminds us all that love isn’t all dark and painful. Giving an optimistic look at life and love in a short sweet song of hope. “Take me to the sunny side of love……Yeah”
Overall, this is a solid effort from Aerosmith. Some of the more recent releases have lacked the vibe of the classic sound, but this one definitely pays homage to their past and gives a nod to their heroes at the same time. One listen through this release will make you remember why you love Aerosmith.
Just a side note, if you check out the artwork inside you will see an original drawing from a teenage Slash that impressed the band so much they decided to include it with the album. A reminder that even current rock guitar gods know the glory that is Aerosmith.
Check out our interview with Joey Kramer from this past summer