Monday, February 4, 2013

"Aerosmith" by Aerosmith (1973)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl

"Nobody knows where it comes and where it goes."

My Favorite Tracks:
One Way Street, Mama Kin, Movin' Out

Classic Rock Mega-Anthem:
Dream On

Obvious Filler & Swings-and-Misses:
Write Me a Letter

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

I came of age in the eighties, and so my understanding of Aerosmith is filtered throught that.  The first time I heard Walk This Way was as a duet with Run DMC.  The first time I heard Sweet Emotion, it had a video with James Spader in it.  And the first time I heard Dream On, it was done in an over the top live performance along with a full orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen.

Dream On seemed like a really odd song to me at the time; it didn't feel at all like the same band who had done Love in an Elevator and Janie's Got a Gun.  At the time, I chalked it up to a sound they must have had back in the seventies that I didn't know about.

But since I have gotten into their earlier catalogue, I realize that Dream On really doesn't sound like ANY other Aerosmith song.  It's piano heavy.  Steven Tyler has stated that he intentionally changed the sound of his voice when he recorded this song.  He wrote the lyrics when he was seventeen.  And it's absent the swagger and bravado of pretty much everything else they do.  AND IT'S NOT BLUESY!  I don't mean to try and pigeonhole a band this signficant, but everything they have ever done has drawn a direct reference to the blues - whether as obvious as a twelve-bar shuffle or as subtle as an attitude.  Dream On exists in it's own little universe.  Basically, it's a Led Zeppelin song that got written by the wrong band.

Personally, I've never been a huge fan of the song - at least not the first three minutes.  The words sound like bad high school poetry (because they are), the guitar part is uninspired and the rhythm section sounds plain bored.  But then it starts building for the last 90 seconds, and what a 90 seconds it is.  Dream On is one of the all-time great crescendo songs.  Much like the 1812 Overture, it's a whole lot of something that's just sort of there - not really bad but not really great - until those few final moments of sheer carthatic explosion.  And that's what I love about Dream On.

So, is it an album?  No.  Dream On isn't the only song where it's clear that the band is still finding their footing on this debut.  But I do think that if they had done a few simple things like replacing one or two tracks and changing the play order, it could have been an album.  Seriously, why would you kick off your introduction to the musical world with anything other than Mama Kin?!

Up next, we put on our platform shoes and slink into the world of R&B and funk with "Natural High" by The Commodores.

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