There are some real simple / guilty pleasures in my music collection. They might not be ‘critical’ favourites but I’ll always stick em on.
MTV has a lot to answer for. That’s the MTV that used to be – the one that actually showed more music than reality TV. I can’t say that I’ve watched it for years. Back in the 90’s it was a gateway into a lot of music. For me, in amidst all the “holy shit” moments that came with the explosion of grunge, the video for Aerosmith’s Livin’ On The Edge was an attention grabber – Joe Perry wringing a solo out of his guitar as a freight-train barrels down on him, only to casually step out of the way all cool-as-fuck.
A few years later when the video for Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees) aired I went out and got the CD single (again, almost a defunct format now) but listened more to the b-sides instead – Seasons of Wither and Sweet Emotion. It was like a taster for the early Aerosmith. So, after Big Ones I went right back to the music shop (again, a chain that has long since been relegated to the “do you remember?” list) and picked up Rocks the next day. It got, and gets, a lot more plays than that sumo-wrestler featuring comp.
Jim over at Music Enthusiast (I really need to update my blogroll etc) just finished a great 3-post wrap-up covering Aerosmith and it got me thinking about my own Aerosmith favourites. It wasn’t a deep thought, mind, as back in the days of cassettes I’d already compiled a couple for the car and – though they were on the old 90 minutes cassette and a touch of trimming was required – then done the same with CD. And, now, Spotify.
But why a self-compile in the first place? This is a band with 12 compilations to their 15 studio releases. Chiefly the length of Aerosmith’s career (now at 40+ years and counting) and the switch in record labels from Columbia to Geffen and then back meant that there was no one-stop album that would compile both until 2002’s disappointing compilation (odd song selection, ‘remix’ tracks in the running order, reeked of cash-grab) and those volumes that covered either chapter – let’s call it Pre and Post-Milk Spillage – were a little short on the run time and, therefore, missed a lot of key tracks for my tastes.
Those tracks that were cut off to fit on a CD-length comp were Downtown Charlie and Shithouse Shuffle and a longer, live version of Chip Away At The Stone replaced the studio version here. A few of these tracks (Train and Same Old Song And Dance) most definitely fare better in a live setting but that’s the way it is. Lightning Strikes or Jailbait from Rock In A Hard Place made the cut when there was more tape space but when faced with cutting for length they simply don’t hold up to the rest. Listening through this again now what strikes me most about this part of Aerosmith’s career is the rawness of the sound. Their later work would have a tendency to be more slick and over-produced in its sound as they sought the higher echelons of the chart. Prior to sobriety I guess they just wanted to tear the arse off the place.
So – here’s the slightly trimmed compilation I’ve been spinning in one form or another for the last decade or two from those early days. Starting with what has to be their greatest lead-in to a track, covering personal favourites like Seasons of Wither and the first Tyler/Perry collaboration Movin’ Out before concluding with the biographical No Surprize and, of course, Dream On: