Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Hate Aerosmith

I was minding my own business the other day changing clothes after working out in the gym in the attempt to stave off my own inevitable horrific early death. Normally there’s some sort of satellite radio/music service with somewhat unobjectionable crap playing over the speakers. You know what I’m talking about…One of the more recent U2 singles segues into a ten year old hip hop song like “Get Jiggy With It” so the suburban white folks can feel pumped up and funky when they spend 20 minutes on an elliptical machine.

As the sonic wallpaper did its job, I suddenly realized that there was an Aerosmith song playing. I don’t know which song exactly, but it was one of those power ballads they have exclusively done since they returned from the apparent dead in the late 1980s. At first I was OK with the whole situation, until I focused on the fact that Aerosmith might have basically sucked for 25 years. Suddenly that called into question my entire teenage admiration of Aerosmith, and make me question their place in rock’s hierarchy. As you can see, it was quite a situation that unfolded in the locker room…

Can we, as consumers and rock fans, discount the early great works of a band if their later output is so nauseating and pandering to commercial success that the very hint of it in the air makes us ill? Yes, I believe we can. I think it’s time someone stood up and said what needs to be said abut Aerosmith. These guys fucking suck. Now stay with me here…

1973-1976 represents the unquestioned era of greatness for Aerosmith. We’re talking about Dream On/Mama Kin/Walk This Way/Same Old Song and Dance/Back in the Saddle/Lord of the Thighs/Sweet Emotion/Sick As A Dog…Great stuff. That was four years of glory. Four! It seemed longer, didn’t it? But it was four years…

In the last 30 years here’s what they’ve done…1977-1984 they released a horrible live record, two bad studio records, and kicked the two guitar players out of the band because they were more fucked up on drugs than the other guys. In 1985 they “came back” with a horribly dated sounding record featuring the timeless single “Let the Music Do the Talking”. Two years later the timeless classic “Dude Looks Like a Lady” was released on the Permanent Vacation record (1987). Ironically, that song now applies to Steven Tyler, as he looks strangely like a 60 year old Californian New Age Grandma kept too skinny from an illegal imported African root that staves off her appetite while simultaneously making her oddly androgynous. Do you think if a grizzled truck driver with a nice Busch beer buzz on stumbled into Tyler on a turnpike oasis, he might think, “You know, if that old broad ditched that creepy rhinestone jewelry, I might bang her…”.

Let’s move to 1989 with “Love in an Elevator” and “Jaime’s Got a Gun”. Ugh…Those synthesizers sound great. No seriously. You should definitely mix them over the guitars.
They then publicly hooked up with “professional” songwriters to provide them with material since they couldn’t be bothered to write anything on their own. Four years of sifting through songs submitted to them yielded the now expected power ballad “Crazy” and big rocker (at least for them now) “Livin On the Edge”. Four years pass and the first release on the big Columbia contract Nine Lives release comes out. Quick, sing me a song off of that! We’re up to 1997 now, and 21 years past them doing anything of note.

Just Push Play comes out in 2002 and you know what you’re going to get when you see the 1982 styled “futuristic and sexy” metal robot on the cover. Clearly someone from Columbia should have stopped by the old studio to check out what was going on, or at least recommended a graphic artist. But then again, what more are you going to get out of these guys but something that sounds vaguely like the kick ass band of 1976? In 2004 they banged out a blues covers record, but made the now traditional mistake of dinosaur bands of putting too much sheen on the production instead of stepping into a studio and just playing the songs.

The way I add it up, it’s 4 years of greatness and 30 years of mediocrity. Sure, they moved units in the 90s. Hey, so did Creed. I don’t know why these guys keep getting a pass. Limp Bizkit (who is obviously a horific footnote in rock) can make the argument of having 4 solid years. So, are they on the same level of influence as Aerosmith? Maybe they are, no? So does that mean that Limp Bizkit is basically the same as Aerosmith? I guess it does…I guess it does. Try that on for size. Messes with your head, doesn’t it? It's true. Aerosmith sucks.

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At February 9, 2007 at 9:10:00 AM EST , Blogger Uncle said...

I was a huge Aerosmith fan back in the 70's. I used to do bong hits and listen to the albums over and over.
Now that I look back I wonder: does the current Aerosmith really suck that hard, or do I just need to smoke more weed?

At February 10, 2007 at 2:34:00 PM EST , Blogger Greg Miller said...

That's an interesting dilemma. I think you might need to smoke more weed, and listen to those dodgy "Draw the Line" and "Night in the Ruts" records to even consider transitioning into any of the 1990s and beyond Aerosmith Records.

At April 5, 2007 at 11:54:00 AM EDT , Blogger Willie Gorillie said...

Aerosmith was always a B-List band at best. They had a small handful of FM radio hits but they were always overshadowed by The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd...etc. The few hits they had were big ones though. Walk This Way, Dream On, and Sweet Emotion are essential to any school of rock playlist. I really do think that they are great songs but that's about where it ends for the bands talent for song writing.

So how the heck did they become so popular? Well, Dude Looks Like a Lady was a catchy and gimmicky song and it went into heavy rotation on MTV alongside a bunch up up and coming "hair" bands. The Run DMC version of Walk This Way didn't hurt either. I think they somehow rode the hair band wave via a kick start from a dug up classic hit. Something for the old Joe Six-Packs of America and something for the Camel Smokin' Jean Jacket High School Kids.

Aerosmith quickly became darlings of MTV. All of those(again gimmicky) videos with Alicia Silverstone sold a false idea of youth and rebellion. And it work. The formula was perfected and repeated for years. Which is too bad because I really think they are better than that.

Everytime I've ever heard small bits of them playing stripped down traditional Blues it sounds great. Same goes for ZZTop. Why they have to make everything clean and shiny escapes me. Rick Rubin is capable of creating good and simple "let the artist be the artist" production. It worked great for Johnny Cash and even more recently for Neil Diamond. Why not Aerosmith? I have no idea.

I think they are so comfortable being a characture of themselves that it really doesn't matter anymore. Same goes for ACDC. For a band to produce more bland records than great ones is kind of sad but it is also amazing that they a can stand the test of time by doing so.

Now all of that said, I don't really hate Aerosmith. I've never seen them live in concert...that might definitley effect my opinion of the band. I've heard that they put on a pretty good show. Steven Tyler is everything a rock n roll entertainer should be. And maybe that's it. Maybe they settled on being entertainers and not great musicians. Either way Sweet Emotion is still one of my favorite rock songs and my cassette of Aerosmith's Greatest hits has taken a boom box beating over the years but I won't be running out and buying the next CD or downloading MP3s anytime soon. But if anybody gives me free tickets the next time they come around - I'll go. What the Hell.

Now Limp Bizkit and Creed I hate.

-Willie Gorillie

P.S. I do have to laugh evertime I hear that "Eat The Rich" song. Wouldn't that make them cannibals?

At April 13, 2007 at 12:28:00 PM EDT , Blogger jdoublea said...

Aerosmith's first four years were great, perhaps even historic. And yes, every second after that sucks a fart right out of my asshole. In fact I would pay real money to see Tyler set on fire and chased down the street by wild dogs. But I don't agree that the horrors inflicted by Aerosmith over the past three decades taint those mighty four years. They have forever squandered the publics faith and trust, but hasn't every band? The first three Police records were pretty cool, now Sting is some kind of suburban anti-christ. The Rolling Stones also come to mind.....


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