RE-REVIEW: Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension! (Japanese edition)

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.

3/5 stars

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23 comments

  1. Comparing this album to “Rocks” was nothing more than a desperate attempt by Aerosmith to get old fans like me to buy the album, uh… it worked in my case but it doesn’t come anywhere near that classic album. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not but the track that sticks in my mind the most is that “Can’t Stop Loving You” where Tyler duets with Carrie Underwood.

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  2. I just remember the interminable wait that preceded this, pre-release. All the hype and spin-doctoring from the Aero camp could not prevent the reality of this steamer being DOA. We all wanted to believe this thing might benefit from the drama and tinkering that went into it, alas it was limp as it went up on the shelves for sale. If I recall, “Shakey Ground” was maybe included on some Wal-Mart deluxe edition, and none of the stores around me got any copies on Release Day. I settled for a standard edition, and that listening experience was so underwhelming, I just gave up the quest.

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    1. That would be cool if Walmart got “Shakey Ground”. The CD claims it’s an exclusive, but I have read that claim before….

      The pre-release drama surrounding this album. For a little while I was actually hoping Tyler would leave the band. Not that Perry wasn’t firing back, but Tyler taking claim for all the success of the band really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s true he is the focal point, but to just dismiss the other four guys like that…publicly…there’s no good reason for it!

      So there was a real sour cloud around this whole album. Unfortunately I think the timing of its release also overshadowed the release of Monster by Kiss, a way better album back to front.

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  3. Maybe one for a deluxe reissue. Deluxe in this case being the removal of a couple of tracks. I can’t even remember if I heard this one … quite possibly not. I think I gave up on Aerosmith after the Just Push Play album (maybe heard a little of the Bobo album?).

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    1. Well J it’s been very easy to pass Aerosmith by, for the last 20 years. They always had a song or two, though. Like Jaded for example. Simple little ditty, but still memorable. But certainly a crappy album spawned it.

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        1. I could burn a few CD’s worth right now. And there are still odds and ends that they did to add new songs to greatest hits albums, singles that aren’t on other albums, to help bulk up a CD like that.

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  4. My most recent Aerosmith — besides Honkin’ on Bobo which I don’t really count as Aero-canon — is Get a Grip and while I do like some songs there when they come up on a shuffle, I find myself uninterested in putting the full disc on for a concerted listen. The songs, groove, and production just don’t carry the same swagger as the older Aerostuff for me. I felt no attraction to this one when it came out and reading your re-review, and the comparisons to Grip, reinforces that lack of interest on my part. Aerosmith feels done for me, although that doesn’t take away at all from the high esteem in which I hold so much of their 70s & 80s output.

    I’ll admit to being truly intrigued about the upcoming new Whitford/St. Holmes music though. I just read on their website that they’ll release some “fiery” new tunes online on 6 May. Fingers crossed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES! I was just discussing Whitford/St. Holmes with Stone over at Metal Odyssey last week! Interesting to say the least. Whitford has always seemed to be a musician of integrity.

      This album is probably closest in sound and vibe with Get A Grip, compared to any other record. And I don’t really count Bobo either. I think I probably haven’t played it in 10 years. It felt pretty lifeless.

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  5. Less is more is a fine motto!
    That’s interesting to see a star decrease 4 years later, can you think of one that’s gone the other way, one you initially weren’t impressed with but has since clicked?

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  6. I still think 3/5 is generous for this album, but you have heard the bonus tracks and I haven’t! You make it sound like they’re good songs worth checking out, but I don’t think I’ll give Aerosmith that chance this time. I like this much better than your original review :)

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    1. Honestly I couldn’t even care about the artwork. In fact the artwork kind of bugs me. It seems unfocussed, like the music. It seems scattershot. Not simple and to the point, like Rocks or Draw the Line.

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