REVIEW: Aerosmith – Classics Live! (1986)

CLASSICS LIVE_0001AEROSMITH – Classics Live! (1986 Columbia, 1993 Sony)

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.

CLASSICS LIVE_0003

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!

3.5/5 stars

AEROSMITH BOX OF FIRE review series:

BOX OF FIRE THUMBDisc 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)

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32 comments

  1. Me not diggie this album or Classics 2 for that matter well this one Classics Live had the better mix but man the bar was set way too high(literally!) by the Aero slop Smith Express on Live Bootleg! I always go back to Live Bootleg!
    Who knows who’s on what it’s just a patchy thrown together cash grab by a corporate suit who knew Aero would be leaving the company…….

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  2. Man, I’m going to have to have a big Aerothon listening session after all these reviews. It’s only really the studio stuff that’s hit me from it. All I remember about this one is that Kings and Queens was really cool… but that’s about it!

    And Live! Bootleg… still not doing it for me. I’m enjoying it a little more but I can’t rate it alongside the greatest live albums. It’s simply not in that league for me.

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  3. Strangely enough, I was listening to Tiny Music … and thinking about Aerosmith. Perhaps because DeLeo’s guitar on that one. Some big Aerosmith influences in there. Anyway, I think I would go for the Live Bootleg! release if I was looking for a live one … though I’d maybe pick this up if I saw it cheap.

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        1. The Talk Show album is actually really good, but I imagine the store didn’t see that one as a unit shifter. Even if it lacks the creative spark that Weiland threw at Tiny Music, I’m fair fond of it.

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        2. I tend to agree. After that it was all downhill for me … well not me, cause I like to think I’ve lived a good life since then … but my opinion of their catalogue.

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        3. I think Colour and the Shape is still the peak, and it’s kinda crappy it happened on album #2! The third album took forever to grow on me. Years. I do like it today, but it’s clearly not the album that #2 was. Although I have liked pretty much all their albums except One By One, none of them hit me like Colour and the Shape.

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        4. I didn’t go beyond Colour and the Shape. I just didn’t take to anything after that. One by One is the QotSA-lite album, eh? I do have a copy of the last album, though. Someone gave me that with a promise of great things. Mnah. What I heard of Sonic Highways didn’t sell it, though I would get just for the Joe Walsh solo!

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        5. Ah see Sonic Highways was more about the series than the album, in my humble opinion. The album is more just a soundtrack to the series. In my opinion! After watching the series, I felt like I had seen something very profound. And it turned me onto Roky Erickson.

          I have a mega, massive, huge 8 part review of Sonic Highways. Unfinished! It’s a collaboration and I’m still waiting for my collaborator to get off his ass!

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        6. The cynic in me saw it as a TV show selling the album. A massive advertisement! Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed the look at different times and artists (some who shaped the music I dig) and it got me hooked on Stevie Ray Vaughan. It just scratched the surface … and those songs they were showcasing at the end of each episode were pretty poor. In my opinion, of course. Anyway, I’ll stop hating on Grohl & Co. (And yeah, Roky is tremendous!).

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        7. I don’t wanna say too much about this because I do have an 8 part review waiting to be finished and released. I also have the album here, but it’s still sealed. From Christmas!!!

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        8. Yeah exactly. Congregation is the current single on the radio, so I hear it several times a week. I haven’t had the desire to revisit the rest. But we’ll see, I gotta finish that series.

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        9. Oooft. That’s unfortunate. I try and stay away from radio as much as I can so I can avoid such things. I couldn’t cope with that – only so many anthemic choruses a man can stand, amaright?

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  4. I’ve seen these in the shops before, never tried them. Maybe I should. I wonder how much I’d play it, though, when I’m so used to playing the studio hits set… Cool review!

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