A reunited Aerosmith managed to put it together enough to tour, and record new music. Now on Geffen, Done With Mirrors was considered a “good enough” album in most circles. The Box of Fire set, which this series of reviews is really about, doesn’t include any of the Geffen material. Instead it jumps ahead to the next Columbia release, which came out the year after Done With Mirrors. Columbia were now able to put out live albums and compilations. Classics Live! was the first of these.
We have already established that the Live! Bootleg album is simply excellent. As a double live album, it is one of the essential releases from the 1970’s that serious rock fans should own. Classics Live is a different beast, a single LP with odds and ends from tours from 1977 to 1983. There is no indication who is playing on what, but it is known that all four Aerosmith guitarists (Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Jimmy Crespo, Rick Dufay) play on the album. They are all pictured inside, but only by ear could you determine who is playing. For example I think “Train Kept a Rollin'” is a 1983 recording with Crespo and Dufay.
It’s cool that there are songs on Classics Live that were not on Live Bootleg. The most notable of these is “Kings and Queens” which really deserves a lot more praise than it gets. Aerosmith at their most regal. The others are a medley of “Three Mile Smile” and “Reefer Headed Woman” from Night in the Ruts. Joe Perry was definitely out of the band by that time.
Of the more familiar tracks, “Sweet Emotion” is a particularly good version with Tyler sounding pretty rough from the night before! I’m pretty sure there’s some heavy overdubbing going on with this album, if the backing vocals are anything to go by. “Dream On” is excellent as usual, with exceptional sound quality and a raw sounding performance. “Mama Kin” on the other hand ain’t so hot. Pretty sloppy and ragged but a lil’ too much. “Lord of the Thighs” is solid.
The icing on the cake is the unreleased studio track “Major Barbra”. This outtake from Get Your Wings saw its very first release on Classics Live. It’s a slow, mournful, but classy ballad in 3/4 time. It’s a great song that deserved a spot on an Aerosmith album, so here it is!
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)
Disc 9: Rock in a Hard Place (1982)
Disc 10: Classics Live! (1986)