Archive | January 2017

Aerosmith – Draw the Line

Today we wrap up the Aerosmith section of my collection with their 1977 effort ‘Draw the Line’. Again, I have the exact same thing so say about ‘Draw the Line’ as I did about ‘Rocks’ and ‘Toys in The Attic’. They’re great records with a few songs that have been a little overplayed, but the non-radio songs are stronger than most of the hits. Highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t heard it. (I am well that with most records I cover, if you had an interest in the band, then you are probably already familiar with all the music on it, I just needed a concluding sentence for that paragraph, and that’s the best I could come up with.)

 

Last night I was working on photographing and editing various covers for this project, I try to do at least 10 or 15 a day. While I was doing that, I played all four of my Aerosmith records back to back for the hell of it. I concluded that ‘Rocks’ and ‘Draw the Line’ are my favorites of the four. I think I like the both equally, with ‘Toys in The Attic’ just behind them. ‘Get Your Wings’ is good too, but they weren’t quite there yet. (Though one of my favorite Aerosmith songs, ‘Spaced’ comes from GYW.)

 

It seems it took them about three albums to truly get their groove, and from there they maintained it for at least a three-record stretch. My buddy Nick has a theory that any band that can put out three killer records in a row, usually established themselves of a classic band or something to that effect. I must say Aerosmith achieved that with ‘Toys in the Attic’, ‘Rocks’, and ‘Draw the Line’. (I really can’t comment on any of the records that came afterward, because I don’t own them and aren’t familiar with them.) If the band were to have broken up after these three records they would probably still be considered one of the greatest hard rock bands from the 1970’s.

 

The fact that they managed to survive the 1970’s and carry on until the 21st century is an amazingly impressive feat. And when I say survive, I don’t only mean their career. It’s well established that at one point they nearly drank themselves to death. So, the fact they could sober up, revive their career in the late 80’s, and keep it going for another 20 years is unheard of. I may not like anything they did in the last 27 years…Holy fuck I just realized ‘Permanent Vacation’ will be 30 years old this year!!! FUCK I’m old…Anyway, where was I? Oh Yeah, I may not like anything they’ve done in the last 27 years, But I can’t deny that they were very successful and managed to grow their audience to span several generations of music lovers. And it’s not how bands like them, Journey and even Metallica are now. Where people come to their shows because they’re a classic band and it’s just a thing to do and nobody cares about their current records. No from 1987 to at least 1997 Aerosmith were putting out new records that were selling insanely well and had a shit ton of hits on each one. They were just as relevant in the 1990’s as they were in the 1970’s. I can’t think of another band that can claim that.

 

Another thing I noticed during last night’s spins was that Aerosmith’s fondness for overproduced and overblown ballads did not start in the late 80’s as I always thought it did. It seemed to me through the 90’s Aerosmith keep rewriting and releasing the song ‘Angel’ from ‘Permanent Vacation’ repeatedly. What I realized was it wasn’t ‘Angel’ they were rewriting, no it was actually ‘Seasons of the Whither’ from 1975’s ‘Get Your Wings’. It seems it was with ‘Seasons’ that they stumbled across that formula of ballad writing and they somehow managed to milk that formula for the next 40 odd years with at one imitation of it after another on every album ever since. Hey if ain’t broke, don’t fix it…I guess.

 

And finally, after hearing all these early Aerosmith records over the last week,  I realized that the 80’s hard rock and hair metal scene got its start with this band. Particularly Guns N Roses. Though GNR were their own band with their own sound, they were working off the template that Aerosmith created a decade earlier. When you consider this, it only makes sense that it would have been in the late 80’s that Aerosmith could make such a killer comeback and remain on the scene when all the other 80’s hair metal bands disappeared.

 

So, to sum this all up, Aerosmith was and is a great band, whose legendary status was earned back in the 1970’s. Whether you like them or not, you can’t deny their success and claim they didn’t work for it. They deserve their place as a pillar in the Pantheon of Rock N Roll. That said, radio has totally killed them for me and I probably won’t listen to these records anytime soon.

Aerosmith – Rocks

Aerosmith – Rocks

 

If you read yesterday’s review of ‘Toys in The Attic’, you pretty much know exactly what I have to say about today’s record ‘Rocks’. Because I feel pretty much the same way about it. Great record, lots of good tunes. But a few have been overplayed on the radio so I’m rather sick of them. But when listening to them in the context of the record they’re not so bad. Admittedly the radio/greatest hits songs from this album (‘Back in The Saddle’ and ‘Last Child’) aren’t quite as overplayed as some of the songs from earlier records. Which makes it a better listen.

 

Funny thing is, there are a couple of songs from this album that I knew years before I ever heard this record. Either by samples or it being covered by another band. The first song being ‘Nobody’s Fault’ which bay area thrash legends Testament covered on their second record ‘The New Order’. It’s a killer song and Testaments version is awesome. I loved it from the first time I saw the video for it back in 1989. But I never bothered to hunt down the original to comparisons, which is something I used to do all the time. But back then resources available to me to conduct such research were limited. Translate, I either had to figure what record it came from by asking someone I knew who would know, or go through all their albums at the record store and figure what record it came from. Once I knew where it came from, I then had to either borrow or buy the record/CD/tape in order hear the song.

 

For whatever reason, I have no memory of even trying to figure out what record it came from. I’m sure I was told at some point, but I never pursued it. If you’ve been paying attention to these write ups, then you know I pretty much lost interest in this band by the time I would have heard Testaments cover of ‘Nobody’s Fault’. So, it’s unlikely I would have spent more than a few bucks on a record or tape of theirs. But I would have borrowed a tape or CD if it was available to me. Which I don’t remember ever having that opportunity. But thinking back on it now, I hung out with quite a few people who were sometimes up to ten years older than me, who probably knew where I could find the song and would have at least played the song for me. So, I’m guessing the real reason why I never managed to check out the original because I wasn’t that interested in making it happen.

 

The other song from this record that I was vaguely aware of, but never heard the original was ‘Sick as a Dog’. This time though it was only in the form of a sample of the closing guitar riff, and it was much closer to the time that I heard the original version, maybe a less than a year. Supersuckers bassist and front man Eddie Spaghetti put out a solo record of cover tunes somewhere in the early to mid-2000’s. As a bonus track on this CD is a song called ‘Sick as Dog’ which is essentially a cheesy Casio drum loop with Eddie’s then 4-year-old son Quarto, “rapping” over the drum beat about being…well ‘Sick as Dog’. In that tune, a sample of the closing riff makes an appearance. At the time, I didn’t know it was an Aerosmith riff. I just thought it was Eddie goofing around with his son. It wasn’t until I downloaded the band’s discography and took the time to check out all the bands 1970’s output that I discovered the actual source of the riff.

 

I guess that’s it for now. Tomorrow I finish up my Aerosmith section and Thursday we go in a completely different direction for a couple of days. Hopefully, you’ll join me.

Aerosmith – Toys in the Attic

So, I’m feeling a little better today, and a bit more into this silly little project I’ve given myself. So, let’s see how this turns out. Today’s record is Aerosmith’s third effort and from what I understand the one that broke the band into the main stream, 1976’s ‘Toys in The Attic’. According to Wikipedia, it is the bestselling album to date with 8,000,000 copies sold. Though that’s an impressive number, I’m honestly surprised that it’s not a higher. I’m was also a little shocked to see that it outsold some of the late 80’s and early 90’s records by a million units each. I sincerely thought ‘Pump’ and ‘Get a Grip’ would have been their biggest sellers. But it does make sense that this record would have sold more simply because it came out 15 years before ‘Pump’ and was a pretty big seller out the gate.

 

So, if you read my ‘Get Your Wings’ review yesterday, then you can probably guess what I’m going to say next. I first listened to this record in its entirety only 5 or 6 years ago, and only a handful of time since then. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t heard half this record a billion times thanks to the ‘Greatest Hits’ tape and classic rock radio. The title track, ‘Walk This Way’, ‘Sweet Emotion’ and to a lesser extent ‘Big Ten Inch Record’ have been drilled into our heads for the last 40 years. Though all the above-mentioned songs are great songs, but thanks to the radio I could go rest of my life without ever hearing those songs again. I’m so over them.

 

Those songs aside the rest of the record are killer the whole way through. After two years of recording and touring constantly the band had matured greatly. They came into the writing session for the record as better musicians with stronger song ideas. Add in a quality producer they were comfortable working with, it’s no surprise they ended up with their best record to date. You could say the planets had aligned for them in this effort, and it paid off.

 

In a way, I sort of regret never paying this or any of their early records much attention in high school. I had access to this record in particular through my neighbor’s parents record collection. But never bothered with it because I was sort of bored with them by the time I was 16 yrs old. Because of that, I deprived myself of some quality classic rock tunes for a couple of decades. But at the same time, it’s nice to discover music that’s new to you, even though it’s decades old by the time you hear them.

Aerosmith – Get Your Wings

Take three: Ok I’m just gonna come out and say it. Totally not feeling today’s record or doing the write-up. The smart thing to do would be to just shelve it for later in the day after my headache wears off or the caffeine kicks in. But that is not what I’m going to do. Instead, I’m going to soldier on and see what I come up with.

 

Anyway, todays record is Aerosmith’s second record ‘Get Your Wings’. An album I seem to remember liking, though I can’t remember why at the moment. But it’s the next record on the shelve, so we’re gonna talk about it…sort of.

 

I first heard of Aerosmith during the summer of 1986 when I saw the video for Run DMC’s cover of ‘Walk This Way’. I have to say 12-year-old Dave was not impressed. I liked Run DMC’s part but thought Steven Tyler’s attempt at screaming the chorus was terrible, still, do in fact. Over time though it grew on me.

 

About a year later one of my neighbors ended up with a copy of the ‘Greatest Hits’ cassette and I was able to dub a copy, and it was that tape that really exposed me to Aerosmith’s music. This was perhaps six months before the iconic comeback record ‘Permeant Vacation’ came out. So they hadn’t become a household name again yet, so I wasn’t over exposed to all the songs on that compilation record. But overall I liked pretty much every song on that tape and listened to it quite a bit. After listening to Run DMC’s version of ‘Walk this Way’ so many times, though, I didn’t really care for the original.

 

A later that year when ‘Permanent Vacation’ came out, my brother got the tape and I listened to it quite a bit. I thought it was a good record and still do, though I could do without the radio hits now.

 

But it was somewhere around the time I entered high school that I started to get bored with the band. Their popularity was rising and the next thing I knew I started to hear them on the radio all the time, both the contemporary songs and pretty much every song from ‘The Greatest Hits’ tape. By the time I graduated high school in 1993 I was completely over this band and had no interest in anything they were doing through the rest of the 90’s and 2000’s. Which seemed to me to be nothing but one overblown power ballads after another.

 

Because of all this, I never took the time and actually listened to all the early records from the 1970’s. I just didn’t care. It wasn’t until around 2010 when I got my first computer and discovered the whole downloading thing that I finally took the time to check out some of the early records and was shocked to discover that at one point in time Aerosmith actually was a great band writing great music. I have blown away.

 

Because of that discovery, when I first started collecting vinyl, I felt I needed to have Aerosmith in my collection, and I ended up with the four records I have now. But to be honest, I rarely ever want to listen to them. I realize now, though their early stuff isn’t bad, I’m just not interested in listening to them very often. Chances are after I get through these next few records in this series, that will probably be the last time those records get played.

 

Now, this could just be my mood, and I may have a completely take on them tomorrow. But that’s just how I feel right now while typing this.

AC/DC – Back Tracks

So today we conclude the AC/DC section of my collection with a 2 Cd 1 DVD box set ‘Back Tracks’. A collection of rare and unreleased studio and live tracks. Plus, a DVD of various promotional videos. Not my favorite title from AC/DC in my collection, in fact somewhere in the last few years I apparently decided it wasn’t even worth having in my iTunes library and I had to reimport it to be able to do this review. I suspect that may have more due to accidental oversight than intentional because there several songs on the first disc that I like quite a bit and would never have deleted them. The second disc though…

 

Disc 1 of this collection is labeled “Studio Rarities” and is an assortment of B-Sides, movie soundtrack songs or version that only appeared on the Australian release of their early records. It is easily the best part of this set and the only reason worth owning it. And if you have been paying attention to these write ups over the last week, you can probably guess why. If you said because there are a lot of Bon Scott songs, you’d be correct. Though some of the production quality of these tunes aren’t up to the standards of their proper releases, there are some good songs on here that offer a different side of the band. Most notably is the song ‘Love Song’ which appeared on the band’s Australian debut record. To my knowledge, it is the bands only real ballad they ever recorded. Now I’ll admit it sounds like an Alice Cooper rip-off and isn’t the greatest song ever, but after listening to 11 albums worth of in your face ball busting rockers by this band. It’s kind of nice to hear them attempt to do something a little gentler. The rest of the CD goes the way you’d expect. The Bon Scott era songs are fun and entertaining. But when you get the Brian Johnson songs, they start out ok and get lamer and lamer as they progress through the years. Thankfully there are more Scott than Johnson songs on this disc.

 

The second disc is labeled “Live” and is exactly what it says it is. Though the disc is essentially split 50/50 between the two singer’s songs, sadly the majority are performed by Brian Johnson, which is somewhat of a disappointment*. Another let down of this set is that there really nothing rare about any of the songs on this disc. Though they may be rare versions of these tunes, it’s mainly their most popular and over played songs. I don’t even have to list the titles, just think of 10 or 12 of the last AC/DC songs you were subjected to on the radio in the last month and you know which songs are included in this collection. Now I get it, these are a collection of B sides, singles, and soundtrack songs, and it’s rather common for a band to include live versions of their most popular songs as B-side and bonuses. But as a music nerd, I want to hear songs I don’t hear every day. To be honest, when I was listening to the CD’s last night after about 6 or 7 songs of this disc I got bored and turned it off and threw on the DVD.

 

Which brings me to the final disc of this box set, the DVD, which is mainly promotional videos for a bunch of songs that I think originally appeared on various sound tracks over the years. For the most part, all the video’s and the songs are terrible. There is one song which Arnold Shwarzenegger is lurking about, which is moderately amusing for 30 seconds. The rest are easily forgettable songs featuring the band in various situations where they are rocking out. After the first two videos’ I couldn’t make it past the first chorus of each song before I skipped to the next tune. The only video’s I found worth watching were the few Bon Scott songs that are buried toward the end of the DVD. Even those are kind of painful.

 

While trying to make my way through this DVD last night, one thing stood out to me. For the past 40 years, AC/DC has not only been writing the same song over and over again, they have been making the same video repeatedly through that same time. For real, jump on YouTube and search AC/DC promotional video’s and you’ll see the same thing over and over again. All five band members will be standing in the same spot pretending to be playing the song the exact same way for every tune. Angus Young will be the only one running around, but even then, he’ll doing the exact same moves in every video. Brian Johnson will be standing in the same awkward positions pretending to scream but looking like he is not sure what he’s doing. For the few Bon Scott videos, he doesn’t even try to pretend to be singing the songs. (Though he does appear to be enjoying himself). The only difference from song to song will be the scenario that the band is rocking out in and how much effort the band decided they want to put into pretending to be playing the song. That’s it.

 

The only video I’d say is worth checking out is ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock N Roll)’. Only for the fact you get to watch the band set up in a court yard of what looks like a college campus with about 50 people standing around them looking completely confused as to what they are watching. Plus, you get to watch Bon Scott rock out on the bagpipes. That alone it worth the 3 minutes of your day.

 

*That’s not fair to say, he performs these songs just fine.

AC/DC – Let There Be Rock: The Movie – Live in Paris

Today’s dorkfest is brought to you by AC/DC’s ‘Let There Be Rock: The Movie – Live in Paris’, a live record that was recorded during the ‘Highway to Hell’ tour. Which this a somewhat fitting CD to play today considering what’s about to happen in about two hours. But let’s not dwell on that.

 

So, this two CD set is part of the ‘Bonfire’ box set, which is a collection of live and rare recordings from the Bon Scott era of the band. Though I think I had downloaded the set at one time and probably listened to it at least once, I have never owned it and really don’t know much about it. I found this disc used at an Exchange a few years back. When I bought the CD, I didn’t realize it was part of a box set. So, for all intents and purposes, I never heard this album until I around 2011, and even then, only a few times since.

 

From what I understand it comes from a movie released in the early 80’s. I will admit I never heard of the movie until about 5 or 6 years ago when some of my friends who are a few years older than me started telling me about how they used to be able to go see this movie in the theater on regular basis. But for whatever reason, it was never released as a proper LP or home video. Because of that, I was completely unaware of its existence until 2010. In fact, I still have never seen it.

 

I suspect that the reason it was never released during the 80’s or 90’s is because it’s production quality wasn’t quite up to the standards of the day. Though it’s a great documentation of what the band was like live during this time, it still has a few blemishes. Especially when you compare it to the record I listened to yesterday. For one there is a hum from the guitar cabinets in between every song. Scott’s performance fluctuates throughout the set and the band is a little sloppy here and there. But the overall vibe of the recording is fantastic.

 

Nowadays such a raw and imperfect recording can be forgiven and even preferred by many people. But during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s record labels, management companies, producers, and bands had a different philosophy when it came to live records. If something was going to be mass-produced and released to the public, it had to be almost perfect sounding, which usually meant there was a little bit (or a lot) of studio doctoring after the fact. It’s very well possibly that the powers that be may have thought this recording didn’t have enough commercial viability to merit such post production work.

 

But this is all speculation, and I’m too lazy to look it up now, so we’re just going to leave there and call it a day.

AC/DC – Live

So I have about a half hour/45 minutes before I have to head into the shop for an hour or two, figured I’d at least get this write up out of the way before I have to leave. Todays record is AC/DC’s 1992 live two disc set simply called ‘Live’. Though a copy of this CD was in my house during my high school years, I was never interested in listening to it at the time. In fact I have no memory of ever actually listening to it, though I’m sure I must have heard it before because of my brother and his friends. It apparently left no impression on me.

In fact the only reason I own the vinyl version of it now is because it was part of a deal on this website Pop Market where it came with ”74 Jailbreak’ and ‘If You Want Blood You Got It’ for dirt cheap. I really only wanted the other two titles, so this one was just sort of a bonus (that I didn’t want). I think I have only played the record a few times in the last three years, and only then for review purposes. I just never want to listen to a live AC/DC record from this era. 
Now that’s not to say this isn’t a quality live album at all. In fact it’s pretty damn good for what it is. I think it was recorded during the 1991 ‘Razors Edge’ world tour, and though they put out one shit record after another during this time period, they were still a kick ass band live. And these recordings prove that. The bands is tight and sound great and there is ton of energy on every song. Plus Brian Johnson voice hadn’t took a worn out yet and he sounds great delivers a killer performance on every song, both Scott era songs and his own. My only issue with it is there are a ton of lame mid 80’s and early 90’s songs on this record. If you were trim down to the songs I like, it would probably fit on one disc nicely. Of course you can’t do that with vinyl. I could do that iTunes of course, but that’s more effort I’m willing to put into it. I’d rather just listen to ‘Let There Be Rock (The Movie) and for sake the few Johnson songs I like than go through all that.