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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aerosmith: Rockin' The Joint


1) Beyond Beautiful; 2) Same Old Song And Dance; 3) No More No More; 4) Seasons Of Wither; 5) Light Inside; 6) Draw The Line; 7) I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing; 8) Big Ten Inch Record; 9) Rattlesnake Shake; 10) Walk This Way; 11) Train Kept A-Rollin’.

Recorded in 2002 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, not released until three years later when nobody really cared, featuring a suitably trashy album sleeve and an oddly short setlist, the album was either mildly trashed or ignored by the critics — and has no chance whatsoever to join Live! Bootleg in its semi-legendary status. Too bad, ‘cause it’s a lot of fun.

On the heels of South Of Sanity, you’d think the guys would be happy enough to entertain the Vegas crowds with a generous serving of their glossy hits. They do not; with the exception of two numbers from their latest studio album (well, they were promoting it, after all), and one more that is pretty painful to mention at this time, everything they play goes back to the gold period — in­cluding freshly unearthed rarities such as ‘No More No More’ and ‘Seasons Of Wither’!

Everything changes in an instant. Where the Sanity tracks, with a few exceptions, reflected Aero­smith honestly earning their daily bread, giving fans note-for-note perfect versions of pre-poli­shed plastic rock’n’roll hits, on Rockin’ The Joint they are clearly having fun. Because with the­se old classics, you don’t care for ideal execution; you just care to get your kicks. The way Joe Perry hammers out that riff for ‘Train Kept A-Rollin’ — don’t you want to trade the band’s entire post-1987 career for that experience? The way Tyler screams his head off on the last verse of ‘Draw The Line’, even if a bit of it is off-key, isn’t it more exciting than all of his come-in-at-the-right-moment bansheeisms on Sanity? The way the band jams its toes off during the instrumental sections of ‘Big Ten Inch Record’, don’t it send these Vegas people into a dance frenzy, so much more exciting than the alleged two-step of ‘Rag Doll’?

Look at this. Midway through, the waves of excitement are unexpectedly interrupted as Steven bursts into a perfunctory rendition of ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’, the worst song ever to be associated with the name of Aerosmith — not only is it a power ballad, after all, but it was writ­ten by Diane Warren, a weapon of mass destruction from outer space fifty times as destructive as the asteroid in the bullshit movie Armageddon for which she wrote the song and Aerosmith, look­ing for new, thrilling, and ever more humiliating ways to sell out, recorded it. (How fortunate it is that the studio version is only available as a single, or on compilations that nobody need buy any­way). Anyway, once they’re done with this monstrosity, obviously targeted at the tasteless gamb­ling ladies in the crowd, “So you like the old shit or the new shit?”, asks Tyler — “OLD SHIT!” yells everyone in the audience with the power to yell. Good for Ms. Warren she was not among the audience that evening.

So, overall, this is terrific — a rejuvenation, a return to senses, perhaps only temporary, but who cares: this is Aerosmith playing as if they were in some lousy joint in 1976, and they haven’t lost a thing — Tyler’s singing still perfect, Perry’s playing still gritty as hell. Perhaps the Peter Green blues cover, presaging Honkin’ On Bobo (‘Rattlesnake Shake’) is a bit too slow and drawn out, but they do insert the fast jam from ‘Rats In The Cellar’ in the middle, so I’d rather hear that than another rendition of ‘Falling In Love Is So Hard On The Knees’.

Absolute fuckin’ best rock’n’rollin’ moment: the band totally cuts loose with ‘Big Ten Inch Re­cord’, fluid guitar solos from Whitford and some guest piano player, and then, when everyone is already pretty well on their feet, “JOE PERRYYY!” from Tyler and the guy cuts in like mad, a cross between Chuck Berry and Alvin Lee. Tune in to this and it may yet make your day. With the sordid exception of the Diane Warren thing — even the two numbers from Just Push Play are decent — this is Aerosmith’s best live offering since Bootleg, and one of the best live albums ever from a band of rock veterans each of which is way beyond 50. For the record, the Stones have never played with that kind of quality upon crossing the half-century age range, although they still get by on enthusiasm and great material. Thumbs up.


  1. Jose Luis ParadaApril 4, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    A precision: They didn't actually insert the coda of "Rats in the Cellar" as a middle section on their version of "Rattlesnake Shake", but the other way round. If you get the chance to listen to Pandora's box you will know what i mean.

  2. It looks like I have to swallow my words - see Sanity. The amazing thing is that Aerosmith seems to get bétter while getting older. I have just listened to this version of Dream On and it's easily the best I've heard until now. It lacks the sterility of the original studio version. At the other hand if it sounds a bit sloppy it's because the band wánts it to sound like that, not because they lack the skills like they did 25, 30 years before. The interplay of the two guitars, with all those well chosen dissonants, is simply fabulous.
    On YouTube there is also a short live version of Baby please don't go. What a fine contrast to the "rational" approach of Budgie, which I still slightly prefer.
    I may seriously have to reconsider my overall opinion of this band. Certainly I will hunt more live footage of the last 10 years down.