REVIEW: Aerosmith – The Road Starts Hear (2021)

AEROSMITH – The Road Starts Hear (2021 Universal RSD vinyl)

Are Aerosmith kicking off a series of official bootlegs too?  That would be just swell!  The label on this record indicates it comes from the “Vindaloo Vaults”.  It seems likely there would be more in the vaults besides this October 1971 recording.  But even if this is all there is, we sure got lucky.  This tape from Boston is Aerosmith’s earliest known recording, and sounds bloody great.  Currently it’s only available on RSD vinyl, but don’t be surprised if it gets a CD reissue when Aerosmith re-release their entire catalogue.

Aerosmith’s first LP was different.  Tyler hadn’t found his voice yet.  The distortion wasn’t cranked up.  But there is certainly a fondness for that period, which birthed “Dream On” and a number of other classics.  That’s the setting for The Road Starts Hear.

This record commences with some slow, laid back guitars jamming on “Somebody” while the people in the venue chit and chat amongst themselves.  Then it really starts – Tyler kicking it up, but drummer Joey Kramer being the real driving force.  This recording is clear!  There is some minor distortion on Tyler’s microphone, but you can hear both guitars distinctly, along with bass, drums and cymbals.

The blues cover “Reefer Head Woman” wasn’t recorded by Aerosmith properly until 1979’s Night in the Ruts, but this version predates the familiar by eight years!  They’re very different but both boast a Steven Tyler harmonica solo.  This transitions into “Walkin’ the Dog”, slower and bluesier than the other versions out there.  This is a long jam, and for the brilliant guitar work, it’s likely the best take of “Walkin’ the Dog” that you’ll hear.

“Moving Out” leads side two, definitely edgy and sharp.  Tyler is at the top of his game and the rest of the dudes provide the momentum.  Then they lay back on “Major Barbara”, another song they didn’t release until much later.  Though they did record it in a proper studio in 1974 for Get Your Wings, it didn’t get a release until it was added as a bonus to Classics Live in 1987!  On this version, listen for a detour into “Hail to the Bus Driver”!

“Dream On” is fully realized, Tyler tinkling on the piano, but the guitar solos still in prototypical form.  This brilliant version is probably the heaviest.  Finally “Mama Kin” closes the record, a bit different than the way it sounds on the Aerosmith album: more garage-y.

What a band Aerosmith always were!  The chemistry is evident on their earliest recordings, as is their hard edged approach to rocking the blues.  You cannot go wrong with this record.

4/5 stars

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23 comments

  1. Just bought this last week, it’s great stuff. I think they said that this was an RSD “first”, meaning it would be getting released again in some form later. I daresay there’s a reissue of the debut in the works. But this is a cool standalone release, nicely packaged too.

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  2. This is so awesome. I can’t believe I didn’t see it originally on the RSD list and saw Deke say something and I was able to grab a copy before the late tax kicked into effect. Great review sir and no argument from me on any of it.

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    1. RIGHT? Same with Queensryche – Hear in the Now Frontier. Always hated that title. At least Aerosmith’s album cover wasn’t as bad as theirs, with ears all over it.

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  3. I had to do a double check since John currently has his Aerosmith review series going on. But I love that these bands are doing bootleg releases! Since they can’t go on tour, these bootleg releases are the perfect way for them to make money (as long as they have CD releases too).

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    1. Good point Lana!

      And I do hope it gets a CD release. As HMO said, he thinks they will do it, and I think so too. Aerosmith are doing a massive reissue campaign in the next couple years, and I would be surprised if this wasn’t a part of a deluxe edition of the first album.

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      1. Ah that’s why you mentioned Aerosmith re-releasing their catalog. I’d be surprised too if this bootleg release wasn’t included in their reissued stuff too.

        On a random note, AC/DC should do a bootleg series as well since they only have three studio albums total.

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        1. That sounds like something Angus would do! I just don’t want them to retire before I have a chance to see them live. If anything, I think they should at least make another studio album since they can’t tour right now and they aren’t getting any younger. What do you think?

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        2. The sad thing is you probably would have had tickets by now, if it wasn’t for this pandemic.

          I would love another AC/DC album. There was certainly nothing wrong with the last one! But I would think it depends on how much Malcolm material is left, and if Angus would write new songs without Malcolm.

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        3. Uh covid ruined freaking everything! Then again, I wasn’t into the band three years ago, so if they released the album earlier, I probably wouldn’t have been interested in seeing them live.

          I think it’d be cool if Angus wrote with Brian again since he wrote some good songs.

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        4. I hope it happens. I guess the last 2 years have taught me not to get my hopes up for anything, but also to expect the unexpected. I mean a lot of albums have come out in the last 2 years that we didn’t expect!

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        5. I mean AC/DC is a band full of surprise, so I’m hoping they have something up their sleeves. I would just hate for the band to waste an opportunity like this, when they have the mostly Back in Black line-up back together.

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