There is an informal rule that a band should have at least three albums out before they entertain the idea of a live or “greatest hits” release. Aerosmith obviously had lots of albums out in 1994, but on two different labels: Columbia, and Geffen. Their 1994 best of, not-so-cleverly titled Big Ones, drew from only three Geffen albums. Therein lies its weakness, though Aerosmith have often had issues trying to balance their classic and pop hit eras on compilations. Big Ones is easily made redundant by later compilations, but how is it for a straight listen?
A long one: 73 minutes with lots of hits and perhaps a few too many ballads, although there is no denying their chart power.
Three songs were new to the majority of buyers. “Deuces Are Wild” was a fine ballad, one of their best from this era. It wasn’t entirely new; it was written for Pump and considered for Get A Grip before being released in 1993 on the Beavis and Butt-head Experience CD. The other two were brand new recordings: “Walk on Water” and “Blind Man”. Fans who dug the heavy Aerosmith on tunes like “Eat the Rich” will enjoy “Walk on Water” as one of their harder rockers. OK song, but long forgotten now. Unfortunately “Blind Man” is just another ballad, this one similar to “What It Takes” from Pump. It’s the better of the two new songs, but sadly another ballad is not what Big Ones needed.
Making this CD even less valuable to buyers, every single track is on the later album Young List: The Aerosmith Anthology (2001). Even the three new songs!
Otherwise Big Ones plays much like a run-though of Aerosmith’s radio staples that you can hear on the FM dial just about everywhere. Each and every big hit from the three massive Geffen albums is here. How often do you need to hear “Crazy”, “Cryin'”, “Amazing”, “Janie”, “Rag Doll”, “Angel”, “Dude”, “Elevator” and the rest? That is up to you.
Even the cover art is devoid of imagination.