When a fan walked up to Joe Perry in 1980 and asked him to sign the brand new record Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits, the guitar player was so out of it that he didn’t even know there was such a record. Now 35 years later, it has sold 11 million copies and has become that one Aerosmith disc that everybody seems to have. My wife asked for Aerosmith’s Get A Grip for her birthday in 1993 from her uncle, but he couldn’t find it, so he got her Greatest Hits instead. She didn’t know a single song but quickly grew to love every one of them.
This album is legendary. Even though all the Columbia studio albums were already included, Sony still put Greatest Hits in the Box of Fire set. Two probable reasons for this are 1) the album is now considered a classic hits record, and 2) there are some versions here not on any other Aerosmith albums. In fact Sony revamped this album again a few years later, re-releasing it as Greatest Hits 1973-1988 with seven more songs including one unreleased rarity. That’s another review though, not a part of this series. Since the Box of Fire has the original 10 track version of Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits, then that’s the one we’re going to look at. This is the album that was released in 1980 to buy the band some time before having to crank out another studio LP…this time without Joe Perry.
This was my first album of “old” Aerosmith, just like it was for my wife. I got mine in the spring of 1991, and while I was familiar with the hits, I had never heard the rest before. “Dream On” wasn’t new to me, but if it’s new to you, you might be shocked how Steven Tyler’s voice has changed so much over the years. Even familiar hits like “Walk This Way” sound ancient compared to today!
Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits was perfectly sequenced. At 10 songs and 37 minutes, it was also the typical length for a single record hits album. There are very few songs not included that are glaring by their absence. Even so, they were eventually released on a second volume called Gems in 1988. If you’re missing “Mama Kin” or “Nobody’s Fault” then you can simply get Gems to fill in the gaps. On its own, Greatest Hits has material from all six prior Aerosmith albums, including some rare single edits and one non-album cut.
“Come Together”, the Beatles cover, was released as a live version on Live! Bootleg while the studio version (produced by George Martin) was on the soundtrack for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Saving fans the hassle of buying that awful album to get “Come Together” is the kind of thing that greatest hits albums are meant for.
The single edits include “Same Old Song and Dance”, with the line “Gotcha with the cocaine” replaced with “You shady lookin’ loser”. I didn’t even notice. “Sweet Emotion” has a different intro and outro. “Walk This Way” and “Kings and Queens” are single versions, but most probably didn’t notice that either. “Kings and Queens” is a stunning inclusion. It’s one of those Aerosmith classics that always deserved more airtime.
- Great, concise hit-loaded tracklist.
- Rare tracks/versions.
- Covers all six prior Aero-platters.
For a single record hits compilation, you can’t really ask for more than that.
AEROSMITH BOX OF FIRE review series:
Disc 1: Aerosmith (1973)
Disc 2: Get Your Wings (1974)
Disc 3: Toys in the Attic (1975)
Disc 4: Rocks (1976)
Disc 5: Draw the Line (1977)
Disc 6: Live! Bootleg (1978)
Disc 7: Night in the Ruts (1979)
Disc 8: Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits (1980)