The Quietus, UK
By: Lisa Jenkins
October 29, 2012
Aerosmith are set to put out their first new album in 11 years next month; we got a six-track preview of Music From Another Dimension! and popped a question to Steven Tyler and Joe Perry ahead of its release
On entering The Box Club in Soho’s red light district, we are welcomed by scantily clad ladies straddling what only can be described as a canon. I wait for the semi-naked men to appear, but, alas, they never do. However fully dressed men spend most of the evening feeding us sushi. One mustn’t complain.
For a listening party, this was more like a high school pep rally, with the host asking us, “Are you excited to hear the new Aerosmith album folks, ARE YOU!?” This being Her Majesty’s rock press, mumbles of ‘Yeah mate’ echo up from the floor and we all clap politely.
At this point I should probably mention that I have been an Aerosmith fan since I was 15. I am now 39. I have gone through 24 years of ribbing, pout jokes, ‘granddad rock’ jibes and still my 15-year-old lustful inclinations towards Mr Tyler have never quite left me. It is inexplicable. It is also the fact that listening to ‘Dream On’ on my 80’s Sony Walkman cassette player, late at night under the covers, got me through some pretty rough times. I have spent years listening to every album they have ever made; I even own the critically panned 1985 album Done With Mirrors on vinyl.
Such is my loyalty to this American rock institution. On this night, listening to six songs from their first album in eleven years, I am hoping to hear the utterly filthy, blues-infused, down and dirty Aerosmith of the 70s. The Aerosmith that writes songs about subjects that are so close to the bone, you have to listen to the song again, just to make sure that, yes, Tyler really did just sing that. Anyone who has heard ‘Uncle Salty’ from their Toys In The Attic album will know exactly what I mean.
But it’s hard to predict what the fans, press and industry, getting stuck into the free beer will be presented with some 36 years to the day that Aerosmith played their first ever UK gig at the Hammersmith Odeon.
Music From Another Dimension reunites the band with Jack Douglas who worked on Get Your Wings, Toys In The Attic, Rocks, Draw The Line and Rock In A Hard Place, who shares production duties with Tyler and Perry, returning the band to the dirtier sound of yore, rather than their more melodic rock of the 90s. It’s downright filthy at times, perhaps something that is necessary to placate their new found younger fans, procured from Tyler’s stint on American Idol.
We were given a six-track preview of the album, ahead of its release next month, and here’s our verdict:
This is the Aerosmith from the good ol’ days. Fast, raunchy and channelling Toys In The Attic with the main riffs, it’s a 6-minute belter of pure power. Fittingly, the track’s been a fan favourite since drummer Joey Kramer premiered it on a radio station in Texas in August. Tyler says of the song: “When I would come to work everyday, I would come across Fairfax and there would be a guy walking that looked like Jesus.”
Can’t Stop Loving You
…and then came this, a country rock duet with Carrie Underwood. Yes, the girl can sing, and it would make a great single, but this is obviously a nod to Tyler’s time at American Idol. Clean production and soaring vocals recall their 90s period, a facet that will definitely open them up to a new, younger audience.
Out Go The Lights
Back we go to retro Aerosmith and my heart lifts just a little again. With a ‘Last Child’ vibe about it, and a truly funk-induced intro, this is old school rock ‘n’ roll at its finest. With the deep riffs and thumping bass, the band go back to their roots with this one. It may not be a stand-out track, but it’s the molasses that keeps it all together.
We All Fall Down
Well it wouldn’t be Aerosmith if there wasn’t a ballad in there for the ladies now, would it? They team up with their old friend Diane Warren who wrote ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ and it lives up to the emotive title. There are soaring melodies, heartfelt vocals from Tyler and just a touch of the rock balladeering that bought Aerosmith back to life again with ‘Angel’. It will also, no doubt, get 15 year old girls all of a flutter.
Co-written and co-produced by songwriter Marti Frederiksen, a close collaborator since Aerosmith’s MTV days, this combines the rawness of old with a melodic chorus that should keep the radio stations happy. With backing vocals from Tyler’s daughter Mia (no, gentlemen, not Liv, he does have two other daughters) this slots in as one of my top tracks on the album.
Joe Perry’s take on the Joseph Kony affair. This is Aerosmith trying to get away from the ‘fun stuff’, and has… wait for it ladies, Johnny Depp on backing vocals. This to me is out and out 80s rock: simple bridges, simple choruses. Should I mention Def Leppard? Probably not.
As well playing back the album, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry also answered a few questions from the press, touching on their longevity, American Idol and finally laying to rest speculation about ‘Love In An Elevator’s provenance:
So have you got any memories of this day 36 years ago and doing the first Aerosmith London show at Hammersmith? Did you know that today is a London anniversary for Aerosmith?
Steven Tyler: Right on this stage?
No, in Hammersmith.
ST: Oh, you mean the Aerosmith Odeon [laughs]! Yes, I remember that well.
So it’s been 11 years since the last full album of studio material right? And you guys only got together more recently to get the songs on the album together for release next month – it hasn’t been a full 11 years in the making, has it?
ST: You guys are taking the piss, it didn’t take 11 years to make it – we were busy getting ready [laughs].
How about playing the new tracks live? Sometimes new tracks don’t go down well live, but you’ve said that the new tracks from this album have been a hit.
Joe Perry: Well, we don’t care if there is silence after each song. Sometimes we will play stuff off the new records and that’s exactly what we will hear, but it’s because they’re missing ‘Mama Kin’ or one of those. This time, for some reason, [the audience] seems to be responding. It’s a really good experience, when we reach out and see it’s working.
There are a lot of styles from start to finish – and it’s a 70 minute album – but it’s certainly Aerosmith through and through. Is there a test in the studio when everyone is discussing their ideas to decide whether material is good or not?
ST: We were with our old producer Jack Douglas, all decked out in our studio in Boston. We used to go and sit in a room and think through our ideas and there would be a band that would play. So that’s what’s different with this album, as a one-off we had outside writers. A couple of songs on the album were actually written by other people.
JP: We’d start off with about 20, 25 things and obviously some songs were left over from the previous album, and then we use new ideas and start working through them. And then some will start to fall away, the good stuff will start to rise up and then the ones that feel really good get to work. We really wanted to fill this record up. We were talking about 10 songs and then 12 songs and then we were like “well, you know, it’s been 10 years, maybe we should throw a few more in there.”