“I don’t think we’ve made a decent album in years. Just Push Play is my least favorite.” – Joe Perry
The sad and depressing fact of the matter is, Aerosmith could have retired long before Just Push Play, and we would have lost nothing terribly valuable. They’ve pandered for hits before, but never as blatantly contrived as Just Push Play. It’s an embarrassing state of affairs that deserves every inch of scorn we’re about to unload upon it.
Hi-tech digital tracks written and produced with outsiders make up Just Push Play, a weak attempt to be young hip and cool when Aerosmith were anything but. Look at the sleek haircuts in the band photo. Only Joe Perry appears to know what band he’s in. The album was recorded with sterility. At no time were all five members in the studio together, according to Joe, and that’s exactly how it sounds.
If their heads weren’t in the clouds (coming off their biggest hit single ever) they might have made a rock album. “Beyond Beautiful” is a close imitation, a robotic and stiff carbon copy. Ballads like “Fly Away From Here” sound as if faxed in from the office. These blatant attempts to repeat past glories are among the most offensive on Just Push Play. It is true that one of Aerosmith’s first hits (“Dream On”) was a ballad. That was a long time ago and a long way from being flat broke and banging out a song in the middle of the night on a piano. These new ballads like “Luv Lies” and “Sunshine” are written specifically by hitsmiths in order to appeal to people who would not normally buy an Aerosmith CD. The result is that they appeal to nobody.
As bland and unappealing as these forgettable ballads are, none are as offensive as the title track “Just Push Play”. Nobody asked Aerosmith to do a rasta-hip-hop track. The Run-DMC version of “Walk This Way” is the definitive Aero-rap, a masterpiece of serendipity and cutting edge ambition. Aerosmith thought it was necessary to revisit that sound 15 years later, and once again the result is a blurry facsimile that pales in comparison.
“Jaded”, the first single, is a great Aero-hit, one of the few from this era of co-writers and collaborators. Fortunately you don’t have to buy the album to get it, as there was a five track EP you could buy instead. If you go that way, you can still enjoy a couple different versions of the charismatic single. “Jaded” had the kind of chorus that Aerosmith used to be able to write in their sleep, but now apparently need help to do.
There were different bonus tracks for different regions. US and Canada got nil, but Europe got “Face” while Japan received “Won’t Let You Down” and a bunch of other stuff including five live tracks from 1978 (California and Texxas Jams). That 2 CD Japanese edition might be worth tracking down for the bonus material, but “Face” remained exclusive to Europe. Is it worth it? Actually…it might be. “Face” is an acoustic track that sounds a bit like a B-side. It’s closest to “Jaded” in sound, and sounds looser than most of the rest of the album. It’s certainly not going to become a lost favourite, but if you find a copy at the right price, consider it.
Just Push Play deserves the dreaded Flaming Turd.