Saturday Boxing - Aerosmith

Through the 1970s, Aerosmith was absolutely one of my favorite bands. There was no doubt in my mind that they were, as they were then known, America’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band. It was not with open arms, then, that I welcomed first the Jimmy Crespo era, then the pop hits, and then the power ballads that seem to have become Aerosmith’s mainstay. Finally, the biggest blasphemy of all, the Super Bowl XXXV half time show. I put all my Aerosmith records away after that and it was a long time before I could even bear to look them. My only thought was that if this is the sort of crap Aerosmith now called music, someone give the Toxic Twins a bump. I wanted to hear them rock.

I’m still waiting. With every new album, it seems Joe Perry is promising they’re getting back to their roots, only to disappoint me with a disk three-quarters full of bubble gum. Honestly, I think the last complete Aerosmith album I bought was PUMP. Thanks to iTunes, I can do as the record industry fears and buy only a couple of songs instead of a complete album.

But enough about the Aerosmith that -- for the most part -- sucks. The 70s were when the band ruled. And that era is the one covered by the three-disk set Pandora’s Box. Released in 1991, the collection features alternate versions, unreleased songs, live renditions, and remixes, as well as touching on the various members’ solo efforts.

There’s a booklet with the set that tells the by-now-pretty-well-known Aerosmith story. I won’t go into all that. If you need a little brush up on your Aerosmith history and haven’t read “Walk This Way” (Avon Books, $25.00), I’ll suggest you do. Otherwise, of interest in the accompanying booklet are band members' comments and memories (or sometimes lack thereof) about the individual songs.

When I Needed You.mp3
Steven Tyler, pre-Aerosmith, with the band Chain Reaction, 1966.
“I can’t ever forget how excited I was about being in an actual recording band. It was a total dream come true. The other side of it is that it’s a pretty lame song.” -Steven Tyler

Movin’ Out.mp3
Unreleased alternate version from the Aerosmith sessions, 1972.
“We wrote that song sitting on Mark Lehman’s waterbed at 1325 (Commonwealth Avenue).” -Joe Perry
“It was the first song we ever wrote together.” -Steven Tyler

On the Road Again.mp3
Unreleased song from the Aerosmith sessions, 1972.
“This was one of the first songs that we learned. We played it at clubs and high school dances, and other than that, I have no recollection of the recording of it. Needless to say where I was at the time.” -Joey Kramer

Lord of the Thighs (live).mp3
Unreleased live version from “Texxas Jam”: Cottonbowl, Dallas, TX, 1978.
“This song was ahead of its time. It sounds as good to me now as it did then, if not better.” -Joe Perry
“Was I the Lord of the Thighs? Fuck yeah.” -Steven Tyler

I Wanna Know Why (live).mp3
Unreleased live version from “Texxas Jam”: Cottonbowl, Dallas, TX, 1978.
“We were going down to the wire on Draw the Line and a lot of stuff was coming down on Steven. I always thought this song was Steven’s reaction to all the shit he was getting into at the time.” -Tom Hamilton

All Your Love.mp3
Unreleased song recorded at The Cenacle, Armonk, NY, 1977.
“We weren’t into covering like the hits of the day - we were just choosing songs the songs that we loved. That’s just a typical electric blues sort of thing from the Sixties. We were formulating our style by who we covered.” -Tom Hamilton

Downtown Charlie.mp3
Unreleased song recorded at Record Plant Studios, NYC, 1979.
“’Downtown Charlie’ just sounds like one of our drunken jams.” -Joe Perry

From the album Whitford/St. Holmes , 1980-81.
“’Sharpshooter’ was one of the first songs Derek and I came up with. I actually wrote it while I was still with Aerosmith, but we never did anything with it. When I got together with Derek, we put it together in about a half hour.” -Brad Whitford

From the album Rock In A Hard Place 1982.
“Even though I wasn’t around for that song, I think it’s pretty hot. I would have done it a little differently, but if anything I’m a little jealous that I didn’t play on it.” -Joe Perry

Chip Away the Stone.mp3
Unreleased alternate version recorded at Long View Farms, Mass., 1978.
“It’s a Richie Supa song that we always thought was going to be a single. It’s sort of a pet song, but the public never seemed to like it quite as much as we did.” -Tom Hamilton

Helter Skelter.mp3
Unreleased song recorded at Great Northern Studios, 1975
“I don’t remember much about this one, but it certainly sounds pretty cool.” -Tom Hamilton

As a sort of afterthought, I don’t mean to be so flip about Aerosmith’s drug use and subsequent recovery. As any former alcoholic or drug addict will tell you, every day is a struggle. When I was putting this post together and looking for pictures of 1970s-era Aerosmith, I was shocked how horrible the band members, particularly Steven Tyler, looked. I’m glad they’re clean and still alive, I just wish they still played music like they did when they were wasted.

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At 10:15 PM , Blogger Magnetic Mary said...

I think Aerosmith will remain forever my favourite band, because I seriously doubt any other band will ever give me even half the pleasure and joy that I got from Aerosmith.

Pretty much like you, I went through a period of intense rage and despair when I listened to "Just Push Play" (I've played it twice)and also with the Super Bowl thing. I'm also still waiting.

Still, I love them, and I'll never say otherwise.

At 2:47 PM , Blogger Nazz Nomad said...

Aerosmith still rocks- you just have to see them in concert. Forget about the albums, they've used hired guns to write their songs for years.

You can make the case that they are the greatest American rock n roll band ever. Who could compete with them?

I've seen them plenty over the years (last show I saw was Nov 2005) and they're as good (or better) live then ever.
I just d/l'ed the april 2007 Buenos Aires show
that sounds hot- here's the link...judge for yourself.


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