AEROSMITH: ROCKIN’ THE JOINT (2005)
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
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.