photo & text by nacrowe
i know its hard now to imagine a time when AEROSMITH didnt suck, with all the EMBARRASSING, SCHMALTZY, TRITE DIANE WARREN-cowritten torch songs the NEW ENGLAND quartet became known for in the later years of their career, but there was a time when they were a LOOSE, SWAGGERING outfit that competed with the best of them. that period was the early-to-mid 1970s which coincided with their first four records, i.e. AEROSMITH (COLUMBIA, 1973), GET YOUR WINGS (COLUMBIA, 1974), TOYS IN THE ATTIC (COLUMBIA, 1975) and ROCKS (COLUMBIA, 1976). for context, during this time AEROSMITH was prominent enough to have prominent support acts including the likes of RUSH, JEFF BECK, SLADE, NEW YORK DOLLS, FOGHAT, TED NUGENT, AC/DC and MOTT THE HOOPLE. it is this era of their career that had a profound influence on everyone from SLASH (GUNS N' ROSES, VELVET REVOLVER), MICK MARS (MOTLEY CRUE) and JAMES HETFIELD (METALLICA) to less obvious musicians like DC HARDCORE legends HENRY ROLLINS (BLACK FLAG) and IAN MACKAYE (MINOR THREAT) among many others.
ROCKS is considered by many to be the pick of the litter from this period and the STANDOUT album of their career. singer STEVEN TYLER and guitarist JOE PERRY were never more on point as a songwriting tandem. guitarists still look back at the SLINKY, DIRTY grooves on tracks like "BACK IN THE SADDLE," "NOBODY'S FAULT," "GET THE LEAD OUT" and "RATS IN THE CELLAR" as a master class in CLASSIC ROCK N ROLL riffage. id even argue that for guitarists of a certain age, this is the PERRY that comes to mind in their childhood imagination. and TYLER comes off untethered like a feral cat slithering throughout the songs adding exponential ENERGY, CHARISMA and PASSION to already UNDENIABLE instrumentals that were already SMOLDERING to begin with. that being said, just like some people are not a GEDDY LEE guy (and i know plenty), i want to be frank and admit that i was never a TYLER guy. unlike PERRY, i just find him to be a SECOND-TIER talent next peers like ROBERT PLANT (LED ZEPPELIN), IAN HUNTER (MOTT THE HOOPLE), ROBIN ZANDER (CHEAP TRICK), RONNIE JAMES DIO (RAINBOW), BILLY GIBBONS (ZZ TOP) and even BON SCOTT (AC/DC) and PHIL LYNOTT (THIN LIZZY). in fact, much as with SCOTT and LYNOTT, TYLER had a similar role in being a bit of a hype and ENERGY man for his band that superseded his somewhat DIMINUTIVE natural talents. because of that lack of INDISPUTABLE talent and the EFFORT exerted on stage, again like SCOTT and LYNOTT, there has always been a WORKING-CLASS appeal to TYLER and his band that extends to the modern day. such is seen with their sold-out arena tours long, long after their CREATIVE peak years in the mid-1970s.
and more power to them. ROCKS is a CLASSIC ROCK masterpiece and most definitely worth checking out.