It’s time for another series here at mikeladano.com! It’s been a while since I’ve tackled something this big, but for the last two weeks I’ve been writing and listening to a band that I hadn’t been spending a lot of time with in recent years. That band is AEROSMITH and it’s time to look at every original classic Aerosmith album on Columbia Records. The scope of the series is really simple: I’m reviewing all 13 discs in 1994’s massive Box of Fire collection — the entire box set from start to finish!
If you’re not into Aerosmith, I apologize, but that’s what I’ve got for the next couple weeks. To use the words of my friend Aaron, I just had to give’r.
You ready? As Steven Tyler might say, “Oooh-wha-ga-ga-ga-GOW!” Let’s go!
Who woulda thunk that the band of young kids on this shitty album cover would become one of the biggest rock bands in history? Nobody, that’s who!
I love this album. I love its simplicity, its raw sound, basic production and youthful glee. I love the built-in musical maturity that seemed to bloom fully formed. I love the interplay of the whole band, their chemistry already intact. Everything you love about the way that Perry and Whitford make their guitars mesh with bassist Tom Hamilton, and how Hamilton syncs in with Joey Kramer on drums — it’s already here. Meanwhile, Steven Tyler had yet to discover all of his sass, but he was well on his way. All Aerosmith (1973) is missing is great production, something the band would develop with Jack Douglas on the next album Get Your Wings.
It’s easy to draw comparisons between Aerosmith’s and Kiss’ first records. Both records exhibited a more “rock n’ roll” vibe, and tame production values, with a band straining at the leash to really play like they do live. Ultimately it took both bands a few years to capture that.
The two massive hits on Aerosmith are two of their best known and beloved: “Dream On” and “Mama Kin”. Think about that for a second. One album with both “Dream On” and “Mama Kin”! What more do you want?
You’ll also get six other great early Aero-gems. “Walkin’ the Dog”, a Rufus Thomas cover, is one that Aerosmith still drags out in concert occasionally. A decade later Ratt covered Aerosmith’s version, well before Guns N’ Roses made covering Aerosmith the cool thing to do, as they did with “Mama Kin”!
Hidden gem: “Movin’ Out”, based on a couple really cool Joe Perry riffs. There’s also a killer, even more raw alternate version on the Pandora’s Box set. Aerosmith recently dusted this one off again, and it sounded amazing.
I don’t think there is a weak song on the album. There aren’t a lot that are “greatest hits”, but each one is great in its own way. “Write Me”, “Somebody”, “Make It” and “One Way Street” are all catchy little blues rock tunes, nothing to write home about but plenty to shake your ass to.
Incidentally, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, Aerosmith also contains the greatest opening line of any debut album ever: “Good evening people welcome to the show…”
Long story short: Aerosmith is a tasty blend of all the great Aerosmith ingredients that I love. Electric rock and blues form a perfect blend, and Steven Tyler was the perfect singer to front this band. Throw in some of his harmonica, piano and mellotron and you have a potent mix. But keep in mind, greater things came in very short order. Aerosmith, solid as it is, was only a precursor to true greatness.