It’s been a while since we’ve been “Just Listening” to an album here, but this one’s always good for a revisit. The last truly great Aerosmith album was 1997’s Nine Lives. I stand by that, because it’s a killer album. We reviewed it back in 2015, so if you’re looking for a more in-depth analysis, check that out. Today we’re just appreciating an album that is too often overlooked for the strengths it has.
The heavy stuff was heavy enough, and the ballads had balls. Songs like “Nine Lives” and “Taste of India” are juggernauts. Drummer Joey Kramer really took them to the next level, which is remarkable since he was sidelined for part of the making of the album. His partner in rhythm, bassist Tom Hamilton, is also on top of things with his lyrical bassline meanderings. You’ll rarely find a better guitar tag team than Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, but Steven Tyler’s words are also noteworthy. The guy is a poet with a dirty mind, and Nine Lives has some of his better lyrics. “‘Cause love is like the right dress on the wrong girl, You never know what you’re gonna find.”
Most people think of Pump or Get a Grip as the last decent Aerosmith. Although it didn’t have as many great singles, Nine Lives is actually a better album than Get a Grip. It has less filler, and rock fans don’t really care about singles anyway. The fact is, from beginning to end, Nine Lives is just a smoother ride.