AEROSMITH – Music From Another Dimension! (2012 Sony Music Japan)
When this album came out in 2012, Tommy Morais and I both took a shot at reviewing it, and you can find both those reviews here. With the benefit of hindsight, Tommy’s review (2/5 stars) is more in line with how I feel now, compared to the 4/5 stars I rated it in 2012.
Having recently acquired a Japanese import of Music From Another Dimension, with two exclusive bonus cuts, now is the time to revisit the album for yet another review. It can be interesting to document how music does or doesn’t grow on you over the years. Unfortunately for me, Music From Another Dimension has become more irritating, and I am less willing to overlook its flaws.
The core weakness is that the album sounds like a collection of soundalike outtakes from Get A Grip. The modern production and layers and layers of overdubs do it no favours. “Luv XXX” sounds incomplete. I praised it as “really good” before; I’m not willing to go that far this time. The production is unnecessary and that’s true of most of the album. I think that’s why nobody believes Aerosmith when they say “it sounds like Rocks“. It was never going to sound like Rocks. Aerosmith simply do not record things basic and live like that anymore.
“Oh Yeah” is still pretty good, as is “Street Jesus” and the funky “Out Go the Lights”. Given a few years to absorb the album, “Out Go the Lights” is one of the few tracks that really does harken back to better days. More cowbell! Probably the best tune on the album, and certainly the most vintage. The ballads, as before, are largely crud. “Another Last Goodbye” is the only one still memorable today.
The Japanese fans did not get the same bonus tracks that we got on our North American deluxe edition (“Sunny Side of Love”, “Oasis in the Night”, “Up on the Mountain”). They got some equally interesting stuff instead. “Shakey Ground” is so good, it’s insane that it wasn’t included on the album proper. Just nuts — “Shakey Ground” is the most authentic thing Aerosmith have done in decades. With full-on horns, sax and female backing vocals at the ready, Aerosmith finally really turn up the funk again! I want to know who’s playing clavinet, but the credits don’t say. Tyler? “I’m Not Talkin'” is also quite good, being a rockabilly experiment. No layers of production, no additional accoutrements, this is just Aerosmith playing, and Tyler singin’. Unlike much of the rest of the album, this sounds like something real; an actual band!
Can you imagine if Aerosmith had cut just a little bit of fat from the album (mainly ballads), and included the bonus tracks instead? You’d have a shorter, harder, more Aero-sounding disc. Less is more. Music From Another Dimension is the musical proof of this concept. The less fiddling in the studio, the less overdubbing, the better. And fewer songs are better, too. Aerosmith albums used to have 10 songs on them. Maybe they should get back to that, especially considering that Music From Another Dimension has 20 altogether.