In the music world, seniority means that the longer you or your band have been around, the better you or your band are. However, seniority can also put rust on a band. Aerosmith is a prime example of a band that has ranked high and rusted hard in their 42-year history. From 1973 to 1982, Aerosmith were the American equivalent to The Rolling Stones, playing fast, hard-hitting blues rock and living in rock and roll decadence. They were reborn in 1987 and regained their place as the (sometimes) clean and sober kings of rock. Critics have claimed they’ve gone soft by filling their records with cheesy ballads that made them MTV stars. Recurring substance abuse problems worsened the gap between toxic twins Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. Then, on Aug. 6, 2009, Tyler fell off stage during a concert, breaking his shoulder and becoming addicted to painkillers. When Aerosmith’s other members thought to start looking for a new lead singer, Tyler became a judge for “American Idol” and break-up rumors swirled. Aerosmith have been broken up before, but in a new music scene in which EDM and “Gangnam Style” rule the radio, does the world still care enough to listen to a new Aerosmith record?
If you’re a fan, you should be foaming at the mouth for “Music From Another Dimension!”, Aerosmith’s first album together since 2004’s blues tribute “Honkin On Bobo” and their first batch of original material since 2001’s underrated “Just Push Play.” Working with producer Jack Douglas, the man behind Aerosmith’s two greatest records, 1975’s “Toys In The Attic” and 1976’s “Rocks,” Aerosmith are trying to get back to their formula of blues rock on steroids that heralded “Walk This Way,” “Back In The Saddle,” and “Sweet Emotion.” The classic sound is heard, and enjoyed very much, on the swirly “Beautiful,” the heavy “Lover Alot,” and the urban cowboy anthem “Street Jesus.” The single “Legendary Child” sounds like the band basking in its decadent glory with lines like “And how we got that golden fleece/from tokin’ on that pipe of piece” and “cause the journey from inside my head/to the Taj Mahal”. Guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford have always been the grit of Aerosmith, and they sound fierce on “Out Go The Lights” and “Something.”
What cripples Aerosmith is what has crippled Aerosmith for the past twenty years: ballads. Aerosmith made great ballads before with “Crazy,” “Cryin,” “What It Takes” and their calling card, “Dream On.” But over the years, their ballads have only gotten sappier and boring. Their only Billboard number one hit, “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” is one of the corniest love songs ever written, and Celine Dion was supposed to sing it. Aerosmith—or at least Steven Tyler—have been trying to recapture that ballad magic since then. Here, they achieve the right amount of cheese and grit with “What Could Have Been Love.” The mandolin-plucked “Tell Me,” written by bassist Tom Hamilton, has the better lyrical content with “But I let it be mine—thought you let it be yours.” But, try as they might, Aerosmith’s ballads are a bit overcooked and melodramatic, like the closing “Another Last Goodbye” and the Carrie Underwood duet “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” (yes, you read that correctly). Another damaging feature is in the band’s singer. Tyler, who is now 64, still has his classic yelp, which is another thing making this an Aerosmith record. But Tyler’s standard singing voice is croaking and worn out ,especially on “Legendary Child.” Tyler sounds tired even on track 1, “LUV XXX.” The even more disappointing thing about “Music” is that there are no real classics on this record. There are good songs, if you listen hard enough, but there is nothing that truly stands out.
There have always been two Aerosmiths: Joe Perry holding the fort for swagger-soaked blues-rock and Steven Tyler wanting to show you his love in the most epic fashion possible. These two forms of Aerosmith have been fighting for attention since the 80s, and, in some cases, they were even able to find the perfect balance for a record. Although “Music From Another Dimension!,” is not that record, Joe Perry’s Aerosmith hasn’t sounded this fierce since the 70s. If only someone could tell Steven Tyler to audition for Joe’s band before he croaks (no pun intended). “Music From Another Dimension!” is fun. It is great to hear that this band can still sound as great as it once did, but it’s a shame that they haven’t put that sound on an entire album.