Review #366: Rocks, Aerosmith
The fact that this is the only Aerosmith album on the RS 500 list made me realize how much I freaking love Aerosmith. None of my favorite songs made the cut! No “Dream On”? No “Sweet Emotion”? No “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)”? No “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing”???? Armageddon got that song AND Steven Tyler’s daughter.
Everybody who matters loves Aerosmith. Rocks was one of Kurt Cobain’s favorite albums, and both Guns N’ Roses’ Slash and Metallica’s James Hetfield went on record saying that Aerosmith made them want to learn how to play guitar, so everybody send Joe Perry a ‘Thank You’ card. I kind of forget that Aerosmith predated all of those bands. Steven Tyler is freaking 75! And somehow, his hair is still more beautiful than mine.
If I had one criticism for this record, it would be the fact that Steven Tyler doesn’t get to show off enough. “Back In the Saddle” is the only one with his signature screech — I’m bAAAACH in the saddle agayiyin. (Fun fact, they spent a lot of time trying to give this one some practical sound effects with a real-life bullwhip.) But Tyler still struts his way through every single song.
And by the way, nearly every song on this record is about sex. Read between the lines on “Get The Lead Out.” Or don’t — just listen to Tyler call you good lookin’ and offer to make your feet start kickin’. Or look at “Lick And A Promise” — need I say more?
Obviously Steven Tyler is my favorite, but several other members of the group branch out from their regular roles to steal Tyler’s spotlight. “Last Child” is rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford’s shining moment, and he steps up to steal the lead from Joe Perry. And as for lead guitarist Perry, he actually dares to duet with Tyler on “Combination,” and holds his own!
Aerosmith makes you think of one particular musical style — “the musical equivalent of getting run over by a muscle car,” as RS says. But though hard rock colors every one of their songs, there are other genres at play. “Rats In The Cellar” has a honky-tonk blues tone, harmonica and all. “Sick As A Dog” has a shockingly beautiful arpeggiated guitar intro. “Nobody’s Fault,” a terrifying tune about natural disasters (possibly the end of the world), is as heavy metal as they come. And of course, it wouldn’t be an Aerosmith album without a great power ballad. “Home Tonight” bids listeners adieu, and yet still provides a sick guitar solo. They know when to pull back from the raunchiness and whip out some sentimentality.