Saturday, May 28, 2011

Aerosmith-Get a Grip

How many breaks does one band need? And how many times can they be literally left for dead and somehow manage to claw their way back? Aerosmith was a really good bluesy 1970's rock band, but they certainly weren't the only ones making that kind of music and they certainly weren't the best (Zeppelin was the best, and Humble Pie, Bad Company, Faces, Free, and AC/DC were among the dozens of similar bands that rocked in a similar manner during Aerosmith's early years). Aerosmith was just another white band ripping off a black sound and trying to make money doing it (it could be argued that most rock music fits that description.). By the end of the 70's, Aerosmith was running out of steam. Their new albums weren't all that great and the fans were finding better music elsewhere. Joe Perry, lead guitarist, and Brad Whitford, rhythm guitarist, both left the band and Aerosmith looked ready for the dustbin of history. Then they got a break that no band from their era could have planned or forseen: Run DMC.

Run DMC, for reasons I could never figure, decided to cover Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," which is not one of their best songs. The Run DMC version wasn't that great either (though I love me some Run DMC) but for reasons that can only be explained by the phrase, "It was the 80's" the Run DMC version became a hit. The single and resulting video launched Aerosmith back into popularity and gave them the second chance that none of the bands they came up with received. They reinvented their sound a bit and fit right in with the blossoming hair metal scene. It must be pointed out that with "Walk This Way" they unknowingly did a terrible terrible thing by opening the door for all the horrible rap metal groups that came in the 90's and 00's.

When the 90's rolled around, Aerosmith's popularity was buoyed by the fact that they had a couple more decent albums under their belt and they were featured as the favorite band by one of the greatest cultural references of the decade: Wayne's World. Say what you want about how the Wayne's World sketches movies have held up over the years, but back in the day Wayne's World was legitimately cool and the things Wayne and Garth loved were cool by association. I can honestly say that I probably wouldn't own any Aerosmith albums if Wayne and Garth had not literally worshiped at the feet of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.

I decided that I'm not going to give a full history of Aerosmith, but they've had a billion breaks. They had a hit ballad on a blockbuster movie when the supporting album was weak at best. Steven Tyler has a crazy hot daughter, which has been a huge break over the years. There are probably many other lucky breaks I haven't listed, but if you really look at it, Aerosmith could have had the career arc of Humble Pie and yet somehow they stuck in there and managed to pull a Rolling Stones and outlast the bands, many of which were vastly superior, they came up with (and don't think I haven't thought of comparing Steven Tyler to Mick Jagger).

The album of the day comes from the 90's, when Aerosmith successfully dodged the crash of the hair metal scene they got lumped in with during the 80's. Get a Grip finds Aerosmith dabbling with alternative. The hit single, "Living on the Edge" is pretty similar to alternative singles like "Black Hole Sun" that were all the rage back then. Get a Grip is by no means a great album. It's ok. Aerosmith tries a few different things, falls flat on a few, succeeds with some, and generally keeps their heads above the water.

I got my copy of Get a Grip in a CD wallet I bought at a thrift store in the early aughts (00's). The owner either mistakenly or intentionally forgot to take some of the CD's out. Inside the wallet were albums from The Cranberries, Foo Fighters, Soul Asylum, No Doubt, and Nirvana. Score...I guess. It all depends on whether or not you had your formative years in the 90's, which I did.

Anyway, much of Get a Grip is forgettable, but "Living on the Edge" still gets me. I like it despite the fact that I often find myself substituting lyrics from the Weird Al pardody, "Living in the Fridge."

No comments:

Post a Comment