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Aerosmith – A Little South Of Sanity

Here’s another installment in the IOU Series. This one’s for Mike Lebrain… 

***

I found this 2CD at work, and texted Mike about it, asking if he thought I needed it. He replied emphatically that no, I most certainly did not need this. Apparently, they used backing tapes for these performances, or something? My memory is fuzzy on the exact I’m sure he’ll comment to let us all know! Mike?

Anyway, the news was I did not require this set in my collection.

Of course, I bought it anyway.

I’m such a rebel.

Recorded live during the Get A Grip and Nine Lives tours (though it’s not listed where the tracks were played, but who cares?), it’s also (apparently) the only live Aero album to capture tracks from all three decades (to that point) of their career.

I dunno what the issue is, honestly. To my ears, this is a pretty decent set of live tracks, covering a lot of their biggest hits and some oldies too. I’ve never seen them live (oversiiiiiight!), but this is how I’d imagine they’d sound if I ever did get the chance. It sounds big, slightly messy as it gets sweaty rocking out, but it’s never too sloppy. In fact, most of it has the sound of a thirty-year band nailing it down.

I dug around for about two seconds for other reviews of this, as it filled my ears through the good heapdphones and found some naysayers. They claim the crowd noise is mixed too loud into it, at points. Others say the production is bad, sounding synthetic and flat. One said they saw them live around this time and the band was just going through the motions, not soul in it. Some were even mad that they got an edited version, which cuts out Tyler’s potty mouth.

I couldn’t find anywhere that mentioned backing tapes, though I didn’t try all that hard.

But for all that I also saw way more positive reviews, saying that the band plays the hell out of the tracks, that the solos are great (even perfect to the album versions), and that this set captures the atmosphere of being there.

Damn, that took longer for me to type out those other reviewers’ comments than it did for me to scan-read them…

I’d love to hear what you folks think about this one. Is it Aero-Great? Aero-Decent? Aero-Meh? Or Aero-Suck?

Myself, I’d vote for Aero-Decent with moments of Aero-Great.

The Tracks:

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Aerosmith – Amazing

On our annual Mike And Aaron Go To Toronto trip this year, Mike and I also did our annual swapping of goodies. This is as much fun as the trip itself, saving stuff up we know the other will like. This year, Mike gave me a bunch of CDs. Awesomely, this one was in the batch!

Aerosmith in 1993 was riding high and making the most of it. For a song about the perils of drug use and the break up of the band, this song got a lot of play. And rightly so, it’s a powerful tune with all the right chord changes to pull you through it. Reading up on it on Wiki, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the shadow vocals on the track were by Don Henley! I didn’t know that. Look at me, learning new things!

So here we have the album version. You all know it forwards and backwards. Good tune. Next is Gotta Love It, which is an album track on Get A Grip. It has a fun, funky riff and a bouncy beat. Not a hit song though, ya know?

Then it’s two more versions of Amazing. First up is the Orchestral Version, which I preferred to the album track. It’s already an over-the-top track, and the fuller sound here just finishes it off. But my favourite version is the final track, the Acoustic Version. Why? Because without the full band, stripped to piano and basics, this song isn’t even an Aerosmith song anymore. Bloody ‘ell, it’s a Queen song! I swear. Play this version and imagine Freddie singing it. You’ll never hear Amazing the same way again. Brilliant.

Thanks heaps, Mike! I really enjoyed my little tour of this Amazing song (groans).

Aerosmith – Greatest Hits

The one with the red cover… This one almost doesn’t need it’s own post. You own it, you know it, you love it. You’ve probably got all the albums in fancy-pants versions. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, writing about this one.

What we have here are ten pure classics. Each track is sheer bliss, couldn’t be done better. I love this disc. Now, my current copy is just the basic version. I know there is another versions out there with more tracks, and when we are in Taranna, that one is high up in my list of must-gets. Actually, I think there’s probably several versions. Mike, remind me to look!

Pop this in and let it rip. Realise just how awesome this band’s early years were. Use this disc to whet your appetite for more. Much, much more.

One parting thought, and this is not casting aspersions either way, but does anyone else find that Last Child sounds a lot like David Bowie’s Fame? Or is that just me?

Aw nevermind. Just turn it the fuck up and let’s JAM!

Aerosmith Project – The DIY Edition

OK folks, I posted earlier today about Big Ones, a 1994 compilation of the mighty Aerosmith. And I’d mentioned about how there seems to be a veritable slew of compilations of this band.

On further reflection, this makes me think that they’re making multiple stabs at compilations because they haven’t hit on the PERFECT collection yet. And here we sit, all-knowing bloggers and Aero-fans, sure that we could do better.

So. This is a call to all you Aero-heads out there.

Let’s play record label (Keeps Me Alive Records, yeah!) and make our own damn compilation. WE NEED YOUR VOTES.

Let’s pick 30 songs. At 15 per disc, that’d pretty much make it a 2CD KMA Ultimate Aerosmith. Are you in? Of course you are.

Criteria:

1) Pick, from their whole catalogue, songs you think HAVE TO BE included.
2) You can go by Greatest Hit, or dark horse personal favourite.
3) There can be live songs, but I don’t generally like live versions on hits discs. That is what live albums are for… please give good reason why live version needs inclusion.
4) HAVE FUN.

Off the top of my bald head, here’s a list of the obvious Hits choices, to save you all typing them in:

Dream On
Sweet Emotion
Living On The Edge
Rag Doll
Love In An Elevator
Same Old Song And Dance
Walk This Way
Angel
Amazing
Back In The Saddle
Janie’s Got A Gun
Crazy
Cryin’
The Other Side
-14 tracks-

Well hell, that’s practically CD1 right there. And you’re free to disagree with any of those, though I’m pretty sure they’re most of their biggest songs? Anyway. There are still 16 more spaces… 16!

Drop your coments with your suggestions and let’s make the most amazing Aerosmith compilation EVER!

LET’S AERO-GIVE ‘ER!

Aerosmith – Big Ones

Big Ones, indeed.

I don’t know how many Best Of or Greatest hits compilations Aerosmith has, but it’s got to be a metric shit-ton, by this point. Way more than they have studio albums, by now, certainly? I’ve never counted but it feels like a reasonable guess. And they’ve been going almost as long as I’ve been alive. It’s scary.

In a way, this is cool. Aerosmith is definitely a band known for its hits. And the hits are monstrously huge. Radio inundates us with songs we’ve heard a million times over, rarely bouncing a deep cut off of us, just for the thrill of it. Fans will listen to the albums, the rest of humanity can sing along with Rag Doll whether they know all the words or not.

In another way, it’s all a bit insulting. How many of these goddamn compilations are fans expected to buy? And is there value for the money in the (seemingly) endless slew of discs that drops onto the market, at this point? I suppose it’s some new geek behind a desk at the label who’s sure that THIS or THAT compilation will be the Ultimate Aerosmith statement… only to be replaced six months later by another new young turk who says the last guy was an idiot and THIS will be the Ultimate statement… and so on… ad nauseum… Also, whomever’s making these choices (as if anyone cares), Steve Tyler needs another Lamborghini, so make sure you step up and drop your hard-earned.

It would be an interesting survey (Lebrain, maybe you can help) to compile a complete list of these Hits Of Aerosmith discs. I can’t be arsed to do it myself, but I’d love to know just how many there are…

Anyway, here we have Big Ones, and it’s a doozy. You know this, because you probably own it. I’m likely preaching to the choir, here. It’s everything the casual fan would ever (likely) want to hear from Aerosmith (for its time period). Yes, fans will say “but they forgot THIS AND THIS AND THIS TRACK, and they should have at least used the live version of THAT TRACK…” and so on, but generally speaking if even a noob in 1994 had to put together a 1-CD Hits set from this band’s more recent (80s+) output, the track list on this one would be a pretty fair guess.

Am I a fan, to be ranting like this? A fair question. I’m not hard-core. I own a few albums (and would like to have more, especially the earlier stuff). I like the band, and sometimes they’re the only ones that can scratch the itch. Do I think they are America’s answer to the Rolling Stones? Not since the late 70s (a period completely missed by this compilation), and even then only because there was no one else truly vying for the position. Besides, if you want the Stones, you should just listen to the fucking Stones. And am I a Stones fan? Oh hells yes.

Would I recommend this compilation to you? Sure. Why not? It’ll play everything you already know. I bought it for $2 and it pleases me enough to keep it. Will it be all you need, a complete set that means you don’t have to buy more albums (or more compilations)? Oh hells no.

Aerosmith – Greatest Hits

Think about how many Greatest Hits packages that Aerosmith has released over the years. It’s got to be close to 10 or 15 by now, isn’t it? Is anyone even counting, anymore? 

 

Even people who only call themselves fans in passing probably own at least one or two such collections. This band, or at least somebody behind a desk somewhere making these choices, really has a knack for re-packaging these songs and selling them again and again.

 

And that’s just it, folks. It’s the same damn music over and over. Am I the only one paying attention? It may even reach a point where Aerosmith has more Greatest Hits records than they do actual albums. Imagine that.

 

But for all of that, this is one of the originals, and it’s got all the oldies and goodies on it, all the songs from the 70’s that you know word for word, note for note and still you love them. Not even "rock radio," those bastions of hammering songs to death in their limited rotations, where good songs go to become annoying and one-hit wonders can live forever, cannot kill these songs.

 

This disc was a ton of fun to listen to, although I still can’t get my head around the fact that that is indeed Tyler’s voice on Dream On. Yeesh. But this may be the only hits collection to contain the original Sweet Emotion, with its absolute monster riff, not some live version or remix or something. And we get Walk This Way before Run DMC re-envisioned it, with it’s huge riff. And then there’s the Beatles cover…

 

You know, it may be true that Aerosmith is the same as Guns N’ Roses, in that it’s all about Joe Perry more than it is about Steve Tyler, same as it’s all about Slash rather than that shorts-stuffing Axl. Yes, in each case the front man is a whirlwind of energy and soaring vocals, but without those completely gigantic riffs, the songs would have none of their power. Yeah, it’s all in the guitars.

 

A guilty pleasure. Recommended.

 

Track Listing:

01 Dream On

02 Same Old Song And Dance

03 Sweet Emotion

04 Walk This Way

05 Last Child

06 Back In The Saddle

07 Draw The Line

08 Kings And Queens

09 Come Together

10 Remember (Walking in The Sand)

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