2 May 2023
As the band announce an extensive North American farewell tour, Hound Bites takes time out to honour a legendary Rock ‘n’ Roll career.
Coming over as the Stones but with added Glam, Aerosmith’s raunchy, bluesy swagger set the style and sound of hard rock in ’70s America. Developing a lean, dirty riff-oriented boogie they also had the ability to pull off mainstream power ballads while much of the band’s lyrical output filled the airwaves with double entendres and clever jokes. A combination of swagger, glamour, song writing penache and plain cheek has endeared them to three generations of rock fans.
Vocalist Steven Tyler met guitarist Joe Perry back in 1970 and they began playing clubs in the Massachusetts and New York areas for two years leading to an album contract with CBS. Constant touring behind the first two albums allowed them to polish their stage craft and develop as song writers.
1975’s Toys in the Attic was their breakthrough, a sleek, hard-driving rock record powered by simple, blues-based riffs. Sweet Emotion broke into the Top 40 in the summer of 1975 and remains their best track, fusing a dreamy ballad chorus with a funky hard rock verse. Walk This Way and Toys in the Attic proved Aerosmith as a gritty, street-wise hard rock band who played their blues with attitude.
Rocks (1976) captured Aerosmith at their most raw and rocking, containing seminal tracks such as menacing cowboy-stomper Back in the Saddle, viscous funk groover Last Child, the Stones-esque Combination and the apocalyptic Nobody’s Fault. They would revisit these song templates over the coming years.
Live! Bootleg appeared late in 1978 followed by Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits in late 1980, both cementing their popularity and success. However, with internal communication breaking down and drug use of various types creeping through every pore the band closed out their first decade in troubled fashion with first Joe Perry leaving the band to form the Joe Perry Project in 1979 and then Brad Whitford in early 1980, forming the Whitsford-St. Holmes Band.
Neither 79’s Night in the Ruts nor 82’s A Rock and Hard Place were bad albums but it was clear to all that without the original line up the only chemistry working within Aerosmith would be illegal kind. However, in the mid ’80s, Aerosmith pulled off one of the most remarkable feelgood comebacks in rock history and released a group of albums that even surpassed the popularity of their ’70s albums.
Despite an average return with 1985’s Done With Mirrors, Tyler and Perry completed rehab in 1986, then appeared on Run-D.M.C.’s inspired cover of Walk This Way, whose accompanying video became a worldwide hit on MTV. But the real treat was the new songs they had been working on together.
Permanent Vacation (1987) contained the hits Dude (Looks Like a Lady), Rag Doll and Angel. Pump (1989) continued the winning streak spawning the Top Ten singles Love in an Elevator, Janie’s Got a Gun, and What It Takes.
Pump and Get a Grip were both produced by Bruce Fairbairn who found that stadium filling, bombastic sound that we now associate with Aerosmith. Both albums also featured significant contributions by professional songwriters too. Get a Grip (1993) delivered more hits with Livin’ on the Edge, Cryin’ and Amazing.
Almost a quarter of a century into a career most thought would end in narcotic dysfunction within half that time, in 1997 Aerosmith hit machine was still pushing out the hits with the multi platinum Nine Lives album delivered Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees) and the smash ballad I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing….
While the last half of their fifty year career could be said to be treading water the hits, laughs, drama and sheer bravado of the first makes it almost irrelevant. So one last grand hurrah from the ol’ showmen and off into the night. Aerosmith, we salute ya!
Our playlist celebrates one of Hard Rock’s finest song writer combos and a genuine contender in the greatest front man of all time stakes.