2001, Geffen, 493 096-2COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: LINEUP:
Steven Tyler - vocals, harmonica, piano * Joe Perry - guitars, pedal steel, backing vocals * Brad Whitford - guitars * Tom Hamilton - bass * Joey Kramer - drumsTRACK LISTING:
01 Hearts Done Time * 02 Magic Touch * 03 Rag Doll * 04 Simoriah * 05 Dude Looks Like A Lady * 06 St John * 07 Hangman Jury * 08 Girl Keeps Coming Apart * 09 Angel * 10 Permanent Vacation * 11 I'm Down * 12 The Movie (Instr)WEBLINKS: www.aerosmith.com
Aerosmith were still looking for the big comeback album around 1987 after the underrated 'Done With Mirrors' had bombed two years previously. To make matters worse the band had imploded on the DWM tour, apparently succumbing to chemicals and alcohol once again. Bruce Fairbairn was brought in to tweak the dials this time around, as well as a phalanx of hit songwriters to co-write much of the material. A heightened keyboard presence further signaled the move toward a hard rock/AOR hybrid sound. Geffen clearly not wanting to take any chances then, this album needed to make a mark.
The siren like synth and dolphin calls that usher in 'Heart's Done Time' make it obvious this is a different Aerosmith. Much of the dirt and grit that many claim as indispensable is gone, instead how about a catchy hook and anthemic chorus? This is borderline AOR and it angered many fans who preferred the dirty Aerosmith, but I certainly wasn't one of them. 'Magic Touch' operates in much the same terrain, 'Crazy Nights' era Kiss
visible across the garden wall. Tyler is still doing his trademark scatting here and there, but the glossy hook and AOR chorus set this apart from and above dull hard rock. 'Rag Doll' tugs out the funkier side of Aerosmith, full of scatting and Fairbairn's trademark horn section. It proved catchy enough to earn top 20 novelty hit status. 'Simoriah' is much better, quite uptempo and hard hitting at times, set against a melody that is almost ethereal in an 80's Golden Earring
context. This is the kind of hard AOR that gets the coffee meter redlining! Next up is 'Dude (Looks Like A Lady)', the single that launched this comeback. Again the horn section intrudes, and the melody is passable but I reckon the Geffen execs recognized the novelty potential here. Not one of the album highlights but a big hit anyway. 'St John' has something of a split personality, switching between jazzy verses and a bridge/chorus device that resides at the boogie motel. Fairly bizarre, the verses even reminding me of Angelo Badalamenti's work on the Twin Peaks soundtrack. 'Hangman Jury' is similarly divided, based in the deep swamplands at verse time which gives Tyler ample opportunity to blow on that harp. The band do wave the flies away at times though, rising out of the swamp into the AOR skies above. 'Girl Keeps Coming Apart' reprises the band's mid 70's sound and approach to an extent, coming off frenetic and fairly irritating. And then came the monster ballad 'Angel', an AOR delight full of keyboards, all the right hooks and an incredible vocal from Tyler, again in Kiss
'Crazy Nights' vicinity. Come to think of it, this is almost mid-tempo once it gets going. Much to the chagrin of older fans, 'Angel' made the top ten and propelled the album over the 2 million mark. The title track fully explains all the advantages of an island getaway, blending a serious riff with some steel drums and all manner of sound effects. One could almost describe this as overkill but peel away the outer layers and you'll find a very fine hard AOR tune fighting to break out of it's stifling surrounds. Aerosmith are no strangers to covering a Beatles
track and this time 'I'm Down' gets an energetic outing, fair enough. 'The Movie' closes proceedings in instrumental fashion, something of a rock dreamscape with Perry's soaring guitar to the fore.
This is a very personal album for me, one of a handful of key albums that pointed me in the direction of AOR while still in high school. Sure it's not perfect, but the highlights are many. Aerosmith had dabbled with hard AOR before, tracks like 'Kings And Queens', 'No Surprise' and 'Darkness' to name a few. Here they chose to distill their sound and approach into hard AOR, a good move and mostly well executed. 'Pump' would follow in 1989 and scale even greater heights, but 'Permanent Vacation' was where it all turned around.
All written content on this website is copyrighted.
Copying of material without permission is not permitted.