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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Aerosmith: Music From Another Dimension!


1) LUV XXX; 2) Oh Yeah; 3) Beautiful; 4) Tell Me; 5) Out Go The Lights; 6) Legendary Child; 7) What Could Have Been Love; 8) Street Jesus; 9) Can't Stop Loving You; 10) Lover Alot; 11) We All Fall Down; 12) Freedom Fighter; 13) Closer; 14) Something; 15) Another Last Goodbye; 16*) Up On A Mountain; 17*) Oasis In The Night; 18*) Sunny Side Of Love.

Word of the day is «tedious». Seven years in the making, during which the band almost came to a complete halt (as Joe Perry started spreading rumors that Aerosmith would go on with a new lead singer) — eleven years, actually, since the world's greatest rock'n'roll band, MTV-style, graced us with their last all-original collection of tightly polished, relentlessly professional, thoroughly washed-up rock-a-pop. And now — not only are they back, but what they are offering us is Mu­sic From Another Dimension. Sure thing, guys. Any dimension in which Diane Warren may be residing at present is definitely another by me.

If, like poor deluded me, you ever thought that the not-particularly-inspired, but still relatively tough, blues-drenched, Honkin' On Bobo gave a weak hint at salvation, and that the subsequent live release so strongly reminded us of what was ever so great about Aerosmith in the first place — forget all hopes even before you put the record on. The album cover is cheesier than ever, and once again, they fall back on their corporate songwriter squad: Marti Frederiksen! Jim Vallance! Desmond Child! Russ Irwin! And, oh yes, Lady Di in person, with a brand new power ballad and she's not afraid to use it. If you thought these guys were long since packed in naphthalene, you got another think coming. Another dimension has opened up, and the living dead are upon us.

Except that even the living dead, as it turns out, are not immune to aging. Where «classic late pe­riod Aerosmith» managed to become an outrageous offense to good taste while still retaining a serious level of energy and catchiness, Music From Another Dimension is nowhere near as of­fensive (it is not altogether «mentorial», with neither the carnal nor the humanitarian save-the-world side of these guys over-emphasized as usual) — it is simply dull. Long, overdrawn, repe­titive, monotonous, and deadly, mind-numbingly D-U-L-L.

No one has bothered writing a single new interesting riff. At best, you get rehashes of ʽLast Childʼ, ʽDraw The Lineʼ or even ʽWalk On Downʼ, and at worst, you just get the basic wall of stiffly produced sound that Aerosmith can produce in their collective sleep, having built up so much experience since 1987. Yes, it all sounds like Aerosmith — why should it all sound like anybody else? — and it all sounds tired. Of course, they are old men, and one has to lower the ex­pectations in proportion to age. Or has one, really? With a million and one bands in the world still punching out loud rock'n'roll, why settle for somebody just because they are — just because they used to be — Aerosmith?

Take my advice, if you wish, and make your decision based on the very first track, since most of the rest will sound more or less the same way. Loud, compressed, based on a blues-rock melody taken directly from the stockpile, and featuring multi-tracked vocals from Tyler that finally show serious signs of aging — he is quite consciously sparing his throat after the surgery performed in 2006, and avoids overtaxing the larynx. Obviously, he cannot be blamed, but it is just as obvious­ly clear that, without Tyler's vocal antics, Aerosmith is going to look no happier than the three-legged dog on the cover of an Alice In Chains album. (For honesty's sake, Steve can still hit his famous high notes, but he only does this in exceptional cases now — mostly saving it up for the «climactic» moments of the album-closing ballad, ʽAnother Last Goodbyeʼ, and, actually, it isn't all that pretty any more). And then there are the air-brushed lyrics, no longer dripping sexy sweat as they used to, but somehow it seems that the taming is more generally due to the overall aura of political correctness flowing in the air than the wise decision to finally «act their age»: "Love three times a day, love your life away... there ain't no other way, it's in your DNA" — sounds like a Viagra commercial to me, don't you think?

In terms of general «musical philosophy», the album continues the line of Just Push Play, subtly erasing the line between «rocker» and «ballad» and throwing on poppy lines and psychedelic hugs every now and then — but it also cuts down on the most overtly «Beatlesque» moves of that album; on a purely formal basis, Another Dimension rocks harder (on an intuitive basis, it does not rock at all). Will this please old-time fans? Not sure. Even with the fast-moving songs like ʽStreet Jesusʼ and ʽLover A Lotʼ, there is really no feel that these were recorded with any other purpose than «hey, we still have to prove that we can do another ʽToys In The Atticʼ». Forget it. They can no longer do even another ʽFeverʼ.

Then there are the genuinely dorky bits. The album's equivalent of ʽBack In The Saddleʼ, for instance, is ʽOut Go The Lightsʼ, with the sexual bravado culminating in a chorus that will just have to go down the annals — or the drain, one of the two: "If you wanna take a lookie cookie / Tonight might be your lucky". And ʽCan't Stop Loving Youʼ is a duet with American Idol winner Carrie Underwood — and the song sounds like it belongs on American Idol, one of those «neo-country» pieces of garbage that even a post-Permanent Vacation Aerosmith should be ashamed of being associated with.

And it's loooooong. Sixty seven minutes of one non-descript piece of muzak after another (occa­sionally my brain even fails to register the pauses between the tracks). In this totally draggy at­mosphere, there are almost no high- or lowlights: even the Diane Warren ballad is no better or worse than everything else. Perry gets two lead vocals, including the one on ʽFreedom  Fighterʼ, a perfunctory anti-war rant that sounds as if made on order; it ain't even no ʽWalk On Downʼ — back in the days of Get A Grip, you could at least count on old man Perry to strike out some old-timey rock'n'roll excitement as an antithesis to the band's generally glossy sound, but here there is no difference: the glossy sound has worn off some of the gloss, and the exciting bits have lost some of the excitement. It's all just one big gray blob of sonic murk.

Music From Another Dimension! is not a general offense to good taste (at least, not until the Ameri­can Idol woman enters the studio): even if they still wanted to, Aerosmith simply no longer have it in them to spearhead the «MTV taking over the world» movement. But, much like every bit of original material that their forefathers, The Rolling Stones, recorded in the 21st century, this is first and fore­most merely a reminder — that this here band, Aerosmith, is still with us, whether we like it or not. Naturally, they have every right to issue a reminder like that — and we have every right to remind them that this is nothing more than just a reminder. By giving it a certified thumbs down, for instance.

Check "Music From Another Dimension!" (CD) on Amazon
Check "Music From Another Dimension!" (MP3) on Amazon


  1. "an outrageous offense to good taste"
    Maybe that's why I like classic late period Aerosmith better than you do. I refer to Uriah Heep once again, those absolute masters of bad taste.

    "No one has bothered writing a single new interesting riff."
    Looks like that other old dumb band, Deep Purple, understood the importance of this point much better - and I'm not a fan of Steve Morse.

    "Take my advice"
    Done. Plus the first few bars of the second song. Well, it is not as bad as you suggested, but I don't see any reason to spend money or even time on this either. Wall of sound masking lack of creativity - something rockbands all too often use. The result can be nothing more than pleasant muzak.
    For verification I just listend to "Kiss tomorrow goodbuy" once again (live Montreux 2006).

    1. Comparing Aerosmith to Deep Purple - or, Heaven save us, the Rolling Stones! - is just...well, please just don't do it! I can't understand why anyone laments over Aerosmith "selling out" to MTV, Hollywood, and American Idol when it was always clear that they were "rock stars" first and musicians second. Let's face it, they're the kind of guys who spent a considerable portion of the 70's kicking themselves over not coming up with Kiss's makeup gimmick first.

    2. Maybe that's true, but that doesn't diminish the awesomeness that is the crazy riff to "Draw the Line".
      Maybe Aerosmith never really sold out, maybe they were always just a bunch of corporate suckers ever since they got their first recording contract, but no matter what the reason is, I believe (and obviously George does as well) that Aerosmith used to rcok, and now they no longer do. Surely that is cause for lamentation.

    3. Well, Anton, it's no sin to grow old. We'll all suffer a diminishing of our basic potency and motor skills as we reach senior age. But if Aerosmith go down in history as the "prototypical kick ass American rock band" as they threaten to do, it'll be a goddamned shame. As little as they move me, I'd rather see the Ramones walk away with that title - or even the Stooges. Or, screw it, even Boston! As cheesy as they were (and they were extremely cheesy), Boston were definitely about the music and nothing else. It was calculated down to the last second, but they were honest about it, and at least never pretended to be anything but big, dumb, ultimately insignificant radio fodder. At the end of the day, I'd rather have a bit of that than the faux-heroic ersatz Mick 'n Keef routine of TMZ's favorite feuding couple, Tyler and Perry.

    4. The prototypical kickass American rock bands are Cheap Trick and Van Halen.

  2. You might be right, Malx, but I have a soft spot for Aerosmith - can't help it. For a bunch of corporate suckers or "rock stars" they have delivered quite some good songs. Dream On is even excellent. But be comforted, never in my textbook will Aerosmith be the "prototypical kick ass American rock band". That title would rather go to Metallica or even Nirvana. Or Jefferson Airplane if you want some old geezers.
    Still I like Tyler and Perry. Now and then.

  3. As the subject of "rock star" and "sell out" is concerned - the biggest sell out in the history of music is a certain WA Mozart. He never put a single note on paper without getting paid and knew a few things about stardom as well.
    At the other side of this spectrum we have Gentle Giant. Derek Shulman explicitly stated in an interview that the main goal of the band was to make it big.
    So why blame Aerosmith for it? All I care for is the notes.

  4. I think half this album is outtakes -at least the leadoff single, "legendary child" is an outtake from get a grip, which means they didn't actually team up with vallance to write a new song-. Haven't listened to the whole album, only that song and the second single "What love could have been". I found both of them rather bland. But then a decade ago I found "jaded" bland upon release and now I kinda like it, mostly cause of the drumming. Who knows how will i find these songs ten years from now?

  5. I'm from Boston. Never could stand these guys. Joe Perry's an okay player but a conceited asshole as well. The rest are mediocre, 'Nuff said.