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Posts Tagged ‘Aerosmith’

Okay, I know who he is. He’s marginally talented and apparently arrogant enough to think he’s such a success that he can put his name in the title of nearly every project he comes up with, unlike…well, pretty much everybody else. (Except Sid Meier.) He’s a guy whose highest rating over at Rotten Tomatoes is merely 53%. (Could change since it’s for his latest flick.)

By the way, this is the real Tyler Perry. And sir, until you come up with something 10% as brilliant as Walk this Way, Back in the Saddle, or Draw the Line, take their name out of your mouth.

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Aerosmith’s 1985 album Done with Mirrors is generally considered to be both their “comeback” album and their first “drug-free” record. Neither is really accurate: DWM never achieved much commercial or critical success; other than the reworked Joe Perry Project track “Let the Music Do the Talking” there’s little hope of ever hearing the band play any of those songs again and even LtMDtT has very rarely made a setlist. In truth, Aerosmith’s comeback really started the next year when Steven Tyler and Joe Perry joined Run-DMC in the latter’s reworking of “Walk this Way”.

As for the “drug-free” label…well, Steven Tyler said in Blender: [Sobriety] made Aerosmith make bad records: We had just gotten sober for [1985’s] Done With Mirrors, and nobody had the balls to say, ‘Dude, that song ain’t finished!’

Interesting quote, but like I said, it isn’t wholly accurate. Tom Hamilton wrote on page 430 of Aerosmith’s autobiography that he was the last person in the band to get sober; that he was “still smoking a couple bowls of pot” every day until the disapproval of the rest of the band made him give it up. He calls Permanent Vacation the band’s first “basically” drug-free album and maybe he’s right.

This post isn’t really about that. I just wish Aerosmith would write more records.

As Steven says, sobriety may have made Aerosmith make bad records, but even a bad record now and then is better than nothing. If you include DWM, since 1985 Aerosmith has made 6 studio records of original material in 23 years: DWM, Permanent Vacation, Pump, Get a Grip, Nine Lives, and 2001’s Just Push Play. That’s 6 records in 23 years and only 3 since 1993’s Get a Grip. There’s been multiple compilations, live records, and the pretty decent blooze album Honkin’ On Bobo,  but that’s it. Even the most recent cash-grab compilation contained two “new” songs that were really only leftovers from the Pump sessions!

Steven Tyler said to Berklee students in 2002: “You can’t be a dreamer and not smoke pot. But that’s not to say it’s any good, because it’s going to wind up stealing your creativity and your spirit.” He told Rolling Stone in 2003: “Drugs get you out of your own way and help you get to another side of yourself. You just don’t want to get caught up doing them all the time, because then you lose the original force of creativity.” When asked last year if he had worried that giving up drugs would impair his creativity, he replied “Of course…but I tried it and found I was wrong.” And over the years he and the rest of the band have made other similar statements.

I’m not saying he’s lying. I’m not saying he’s wrong. And I certainly want to be clear that I’m not advocating Tyler or anybody else to go back to using drugs. They’re probably the main reason that I don’t use them personally–I actually listened to their stories when I was growing up, and I’m proud that they’ve been able to stay clean and help others to get clean.

That said, Aerosmith’s output is depressing. I mean, they’ve never put out a ton of records–for a band that’s been around as long as they have they really don’t have a huge catalog, especially when compared to Alice Cooper or the Rolling Stones. Even a band like Black Sabbath that has gone through all sorts of personnel changes and turmoil (and who hasn’t put out a studio record since 1995) has been more prolific than Aerosmith.

So what’s the deal? If not drugs, then what? Money? Fame? Age? Chasing pop rock success? All would be reasonable, I suppose.

But it’s time to put this old chestnut about drugs having sapped their creativity to rest. In recent years the band has increasingly relied on outside writers and song doctors, and the names Kramer, Whitford, and Hamilton don’t appear on the credits at all anymore. While the Pump sessions with Bruce Fairbairn were truly amazing, eventually the band will run out of material from there that they can rework.

Just a few days ago Tom Hamilton insisted that everyone in the band was saving up riffs they could take into the studio at some undetermined time in the near future. Let’s hope he’s right and the material is worthy of a 7-year (and counting) wait.

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