CD Review: Aerosmith’s Music From Another Dimension!
2012 Columbia Records/Sony
Aerosmith has not released a CD of all new material in 11 years. Therefore, it has been a long time coming for arguably, America’s greatest rock band. However, most old-school fans do approach with caution, as they clamored through the “Angel - Crazy - Cryin’” era in hopes that the Boston Bad Boys would one day, emerge with an album reminiscent of the “good ole’ days”… you know, the Get Your Wings - Toys In The Attic - Rocks era.
Photos courtesy of Columbia Records
First, fans need to realize that accomplishing this is nearly impossible because you simply cannot turn back the clock. Name a rock band that has released an album some 30 years after their “classic era,” that entices one to say “hey, this is just like their old stuff.” I am hard pressed to think of one.
With that said, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer at times, come pretty damn close to rediscovering the “old magic” with Music From Another Dimension! With a deluxe edition package featuring 16 tracks, a three-track bonus CD and a bonus DVD featuring band interviews and four live songs (plus a mini-poster), the Toxic Twins and Co. sure do give the long-awaiting fans a big bang for their buck!
To assist in capturing some of that aforementioned “old magic,” the band brought in old friend, Jack Douglas, producer of the aforementioned 70’s era, as well as the 2004 blues-cover disc Honkin’ On Bobo. The reunion works, for the most part, as the band delivers several, hard rockin’ tracks that walk the line between today’s recording technology and that old Aerosmith grit. The riffs, hooks and innuendo-laden lyrics are there, they just sound much cleaner.
Okay, so I’ll get this out of the way now. I say “for the most part” because being one of those old-school fans myself, I cannot whole-heartedly get onboard with Aerosmith’s ”new-era ballads” if you will, which in this case includes “What Could Have Been Love,” (a country song with Carrie Underwood? Really?) “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You,” “We All Fall Down,” “Closer” (though I love the guitars in this) and “Another Last Goodbye.”
That’s not to say I don’t understand why these ballads are included, for they are meticulously crafted and heart-felt songs that appeal to a whole other Aero-audience. Yet for me, they just can’t (and I don’t expect them to) capture the same essence as the old-school ballads such as “Dream On,” “Seasons Of Wither,” “You See Me Crying,” “Home Tonight” and “Mia.”
With that being said, Music From Another Dimension! does not disappoint and in fact, will rock your ass off! All the Aero-elements are here; Tyler’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics and vocal dynamics, the dueling guitar chemistry of Perry and Whitford, the always cement-solid foundation of Hamilton and Kramer and enough bad-ass rock hooks to tie it all together. Yes, some things don’t change 40 years on.
After a trippy preamble from producer-Jack, the opening “Luv XXX” kicks in with a vigor that any old-school fan should appreciate, with the band clearly marking their territory with a slinky rocker that also finds a swirling, psychedelic groove along the way. The song also features a guest vocal appearance from Julian Lennon.
The Perry-penned “Oh Yeah” is a happy-go-rockin’ sing along with a deep-rhythm riff and a couple killer solos over the top, while “Beautiful” is an off-kilter, stop-and-go slab of melodic rock that changes things up, early on. The haunting “Tell Me,” written by Tom Hamilton, does show that the band can successfully walk the fine line of a ballad without completely falling into a pool of schlock.
The bar room rollicking “Out Go The Lights” is trademark ballsy Aerosmith, all full of biting rhythms and leads, horns and harmonica and an R&B soaked, female chorus that cooks it out for nearly 7 minutes… not to mention typical Tyler-isms such as “But a sign on the wall that hung on a tack, said liquor in the front and poker in the back”… or “And it's cool, that’s how I roll, you’ll get a little lovin’ if you got a lotta soul!”
The first single and video off Dimension is “Legendary Child,” arguably the best track of the bunch, featuring yet another classic riff wrapped around vaguely autobiographical lyrics and a smoldering solo from Perry. Coming in at a close second is the smokin’ “Street Jesus,” including middle-section jams that sound like left over outtakes from Rocks in 76’. Can you say “Rats In The Cellar?!"
“Lover A Lot” is another up-tempo rocker that skips over any kind of intro and races a hundred miles an hour right through a dueling-guitar rave up. Perry then takes the lead mic for the bombastic “Freedom Fighter,” the guitarist’s blues-rocking war protest anthem. Joe also takes the lead for “Something,” a stripped down, grind-it-out track recorded in a similar vein as some of his recent solo material.
The final (and exclusive to the deluxe package) track is a tough-groovin’ cover of the 70’s Temptations classic “Shakey Ground,” which I’m wondering if Joey Kramer had a hand in selecting because of his pre-Aerosmith R & B and Soul drumming roots. Whatever the reason, it sure sounds like the boys are having some fun, with guest appearances from old friend Rick Dufay on guitar and the legendary Tom Scott on tenor sax.
Last and certainly not least, perhaps the most important thing I can say about Music From Another Dimension! is that it just sounds more like a “band effort,” as compared to the previous couple Aerosmith releases, with several co-songwriting credits going to Whitford (4), Hamilton (5) and Kramer (4)… not simply the usual co-writing suspects.
Yes, the members of Aerosmith seem to be on the same page once again and as long as you don’t expect to hear Toys In The Attic II, but rather some songs from this dimension, there’s plenty of hard rockin’ here to go around the block!