Classics Live!

REVIEW: Aerosmith – Box of Fire Bonus Disc (1994) and conclusion

AEROSMITH – Box of Fire Bonus Disc (1994 Sony, only included in the Box of Fire)

Sony did a sonic makeover to the Aerosmith catalogue in ’93, using their new Super Bit Mapping technique. Each CD received a well due remastering job, and improved packaging, as you have seen here throughout this series. In 1994 these albums were released again inside the near-definitive Columbia box set, Box of Fire. Back when I was working in the Record Store, we stocked this one for over $200 brand new. I remember looking at that sealed box longingly, wishing I could peer inside.

The bonus CD included in Box of Fire was an added little reward for those fans who waited to shell out for the full box, rather than buy the CDs individually. In defense of Sony for the double-dip, I distinctly remember them announcing in advance the the future box set would include all the albums and additional goodies. Because of that, I did indeed wait to shell out for Box of Fire. I bought it used, at the store that Joe Big Nose manages today. It was in good shape. I just needed to replace a few broken CD trays, and the outer plastic sleeve was also missing (not a huge deal). I later found that plastic sleeve at another one of our outlets, and the owner “Billy Bob” gave it to me himself! (Thanks man, you have no idea how much that makes an OCD collector like me happy.)

The Bonus Disc has five tracks.

1. “Sweet Emotion” (1991 remix by David Thoener). Remember the music video they released in late 1991 to promote the Pandora’s Box set? That video featured a remix of “Sweet Emotion”, and it was released as a limited as a limited CD single. It’s a little longer and has a few things mixed louder.

2. “Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu”. A later track (1987) from the Less Than Zero soundtrack. I’m always in favour of getting one of Aerosmith’s numerous soundtrack contributions on an Aerosmith disc. I hate buying a soundtrack for one or two songs. Wanna know what Aerosmith sound like produced by Rick Rubin? This old rock n’ roll cover indicates, it’s kinda dry.

3. “Subway”. A cool instrumental jam from the Draw the Line sessions, but originally released on the 1991 “Sweet Emotion” CD single.

4. “Circle Jerk”.  Another instrumental from the same period.  Most fans who collect Aerosmith already had this one.  It was the unlisted “hidden” bonus track at the end of Pandora’s Box.  These two jams are simple and unadorned.  They were unreleased for a reason, although they both could have evolved into cool heavy rock songs.

5. “Dream On” (MTV Anniversary).  This live version from 1991, complete with orchestra, was from an MTV thing later released on a CD of its own. I’d rather have the song on this. It’s a brilliant version, best appreciated by the Aerosmith connoisseur.

The Bonus Disc is housed in a simple cardboard CD sleeve. This slips into a gap inside the Box of Fire, easy to miss and sometimes missing! If you’re buying a Box of Fire, make sure it’s intact.

Wrapping up this exhaustive look at the Box of Fire and all the albums inside, there is very little left to add.  The packaging is cool; a sturdy box with orange flame emblazoned all over.  The front door opens “garage style”, with a little plastic “match” as a handle, painted to look as if burned.  Each CD, housed in its own jewel case, slides easily in and out.  It’s a simply lovely way to display your Aerosmith collection, open or closed — when lined up, the CD spines form an Aerosmith logo!  Each disc is numbered 1-12 (except the Bonus Disc), and can be differentiated from the regular retail versions by the numbered spines.  If you bought these albums separately, they do not have the numbers or the coordinated spines that form the Aerosmith logo.  That’s how you can tell the difference!

I’m glad to have taken the time to listen to the entire Box of Fire, in sequence, from start to finish.  That’s something I haven’t done since I first bought it.

4/5 stars (for Bonus Disc and Box of Fire overall)

AEROSMITH BOX OF FIRE complete reviews:

Disc 1: Aerosmith (1973)
Disc 2: Get Your Wings (1974)
Disc 3: Toys in the Attic (1975)
Disc 4: Rocks (1976)
Disc 5: Draw the Line (1977)
Disc 6: Live! Bootleg (1978)
Disc 7: Night in the Ruts (1979)
Disc 8: Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits (1980)
Disc 9: Rock in a Hard Place (1982)
Disc 10: Classics Live! (1986)
Disc 11: Classics Live! II (1987)
Disc 12: Gems (1988)
Disc 13: Box of Fire Bonus Disc (1994)

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REVIEW: Aerosmith – Classics Live! (1986)

CLASSICS LIVE_0001AEROSMITH – Classics Live! (1986 Columbia, 1993 Sony)

A reunited Aerosmith managed to put it together enough to tour, and record new music.  Now on Geffen, Done With Mirrors was considered a “good enough” album in most circles.  The Box of Fire set, which this series of reviews is really about, doesn’t include any of the Geffen material.  Instead it jumps ahead to the next Columbia release, which came out the year after Done With Mirrors.   Columbia were now able to put out live albums and compilations.  Classics Live! was the first of these.

We have already established that the Live! Bootleg album is simply excellent.  As a double live album, it is one of the essential releases from the 1970’s that serious rock fans should own.  Classics Live is a different beast, a single LP with odds and ends from tours from 1977 to 1983.  There is no indication who is playing on what, but it is known that all four Aerosmith guitarists (Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Jimmy Crespo, Rick Dufay) play on the album.  They are all pictured inside, but only by ear could you determine who is playing.  For example I think “Train Kept a Rollin'” is a 1983 recording with Crespo and Dufay.

It’s cool that there are songs on Classics Live that were not on Live Bootleg. The most notable of these is “Kings and Queens” which really deserves a lot more praise than it gets.  Aerosmith at their most regal.  The others are a medley of “Three Mile Smile” and “Reefer Headed Woman” from Night in the Ruts.  Joe Perry was definitely out of the band by that time.

CLASSICS LIVE_0003

Of the more familiar tracks, “Sweet Emotion” is a particularly good version with Tyler sounding pretty rough from the night before!  I’m pretty sure there’s some heavy overdubbing going on with this album, if the backing vocals are anything to go by.  “Dream On” is excellent as usual, with exceptional sound quality and a raw sounding performance.  “Mama Kin” on the other hand ain’t so hot.  Pretty sloppy and ragged but a lil’ too much.  “Lord of the Thighs” is solid.

The icing on the cake is the unreleased studio track “Major Barbra”.  This outtake from Get Your Wings saw its very first release on Classics Live.  It’s a slow, mournful, but classy ballad in 3/4 time.  It’s a great song that deserved a spot on an Aerosmith album, so here it is!

3.5/5 stars

AEROSMITH BOX OF FIRE review series:

BOX OF FIRE THUMBDisc 1: Aerosmith (1973)
Disc 2: Get Your Wings (1974)
Disc 3: Toys in the Attic (1975)
Disc 4: Rocks (1976)
Disc 5: Draw the Line (1977)
Disc 6: Live! Bootleg (1978)
Disc 7: Night in the Ruts (1979)
Disc 8: Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits (1980)
Disc 9: Rock in a Hard Place (1982)
Disc 10: Classics Live! (1986)