Get Your Wings

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)

REVIEW: Aerosmith – Get Your Wings (1974)

GET YOUR WINGS_0001AEROSMITH – Get Your Wings (1974 Columbia, 1993 Sony remaster)

Only the year after dropping their debut, Aerosmith cranked out another collection of solid bluesy rock tunes, but this time with better production! With Bob Ezrin overseeing the project, Aerosmith made the fateful hookup with Jack Douglas. Although the band had bigger hits under Bruce Fairbairn in the 80’s, Aerosmith made their best albums with Jack Douglas in the 70’s.

Get Your Wings really sounds like the Aerosmith we now know and love. The first album wasn’t all the way there yet. Get Your Wings sounds like my kinda Aerosmith. Surely, the opener “Same Old Song and Dance” is familiar to millions. Horn laden and funky, “Same Old Song and Dance” hits all the Aero-bases.

As a piano player, Steven Tyler usually keeps in simple and rhythmic, and “Lord of the Thighs” is the perfect example of that kind of Tyler piano part. It’s a menacing song, right in the pocket, also boasting some of Joe Perry’s more memorable solos.

One of my favourite songs, and one of the least-known is the sci-fi tale “Spaced”. This is a story about the “last man to survive”. It’s an ambitious tune for Aerosmith, and boasts a number of catchy parts. Another seldom heard track is “Woman of the World” which is also pretty cool. I like the acoustic intro and the smoking Joe Perry licks. “S.O.S. (Too Bad)” is a full-speed-ahead Aerosmith blast of adrenaline, a definite classic. These tracks boast a high level of musical depth and satisfying chops.

Aerosmith covered the legendary Yardbirds song “Train Kept a Rollin'” and managed to make it their own. When it picks up steam at the end, better hold on tight. This song may enduce whiplash. You get to cool down as it fades into the acoustic classic “Seasons of Wither”. As far as I’m concerned, “Seasons of Wither” is almost as brilliant as “Dream On”. It’s that good. It also takes advantage of the fuller production that Jack Douglas brought to the table.*

Although “Seasons of Wither” would have been a fine side closer, a coda is tacked on in the funky “Pandora’s Box”. Double and triple entendres, a rock solid rhythm section, and those soon-to-be-trademark Aerosmith horns n’ piano — what more do you need? While it does feel oddly sequenced, “Pandora’s Box” is every bit as classic as anything else on the album.

Get Your Wings showed significant growth from the band’s debut. Their trajectory had yet to peak…even better things were ahead.

4/5 stars

* I noticed in the photos in the CD booklet, this album was once available in Quad!  Oh, to have a quad version of “Seasons of Wither”!

AEROSMITH BOX OF FIRE review series:

BOX OF FIRE THUMBDisc 1: Aerosmith (1973)
Disc 2: Get Your Wings (1974)