Thursday, January 10, 2013

Artists I Just Don't Get: Aerosmith (The Post Pump Version)

Aerosmith - Courtesy 

The post Pump version of Aerosmith is today's artist for the 'Artists I Just Don't Get' series. 

I didn't set up any rules for this series, and I did warn you that my whiny Andy Rooney inspired article was about artists that have failed to impress me. Aerosmith has disappointed me since they released Get A Grip in 1993, and what I'm trying to say is that I just don't get why Aerosmith decided to keep recording music after Pump.

Aerosmith was one of my favorite artists when I was in high school during the late 80's and early 90's. My first rock concert experience was the 1990 Aerosmith North American Pump Tour at Cooper Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Joan Jett and The Blackhearts opened the show, and the crowd nearly booed them off the stage. Aerosmith rocked the joint, and that concert solidified my love for the band.

Haters are gonna hate on Aerosmith, but don't overlook their catalog from 1973 to 1989 because it is packed full of awesome material. 'Dream On', 'Toys in the Attic', 'Sweet Emotion', and 'Walk This Way' are good gateway songs for newbies. I don't know about you, but 'Seasons of Wither' is one of their best tunes, and it is good to see this tune getting more appreciation from Aerosmith fans. I shared the song below, so thank me later.  

All good things must come to and end. In my eyes, Aerosmith ended as a band in 1989 with Pump. It was a great album, and it ended well with 'What it Takes'. The final track to that album should have been the final song from Aerosmith to their fans. I know I'm not in the band, but Neil Young was right when he said it was "better to burn out than it is to rust." Take a listen to 'What it Takes' and imagine this being the final Aerosmith song ever released.

In retrospect that song was a good way to exit stage left. Sadly, Aerosmith continued to pump out music, and yes than pun was intended. My argument is that the post Pump Aerosmith made a decision to push aside their rock legacy, and embrace formulaic top 40 radio sound that ruined their catalog.
It's all about the money. 

Aerosmith was signed to Geffen Records from Done With Mirrors (1985) to Get A Grip (1993).  Before Geffen they were with Columbia, and Aerosmith signed a $30 million agreement to get back to Columbia after they finished their album obligations with Geffen. Get A Grip was their final album with Geffen, so you could make the argument that Get A Grip was a less than enthusiastic effort by Aerosmith. That may be the case, but the album sold over seven million copies, so Aerosmith had to make some decent money from album sales.Following Get A Grip was a parade of more forgettable albums like Nine Lives and Just Push Play.

If it's about money, then Aerosmith could have just stopped going in the studio and have been one of those bands that goes on a 'final' tour every five years like The Who. Aerosmith released ten albums from 1973 to 1989, so they had plenty of material to take on tour. They released a box set titled Pandora's Box of album cuts, live tracks, demos, and outtakes from their Columbia period. Instead of Get A Grip, they could have done something similar with their Geffen era and I believe it would have sold well.

Get A Grip was a letdown for this fan because Aerosmith's $30 million deal didn't make the band better, made them worse. I'm certain they could have made that $30 in touring the globe. It's not like Aerosmith has a hard time selling out arenas.

But Get A Grip was a good album.

Are you serious? 'Cryin', 'Crazy, and 'Amazing' seem to be the same song recycled over and over and over.

I don't know about you, but those songs did not capture my interest. Those songs were so dull they had to create Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler eye candy videos to make the music more digestible. That also started their trend with more one word duds like 'Pink' and 'Jaded'. Aerosmith has not released a song since 1993 that can stand with their best material from 1973 to 1989.

Yes, Aerosmith went the ballad route with some great tunes like 'Angel' (Permanent Vacation) and with 'What it Takes' (Pump), but they got close enough to that mainstream pop line to keep them a great rock band. 'Crazy' and 'Cryin' went over that line, and 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing' from the Armageddon soundtrack pushed them into the realm of easy listening.

Bands are allowed to make as many albums as they want.

I understand your point, but how many mainstream acts have had solid careers that have spanned twenty plus years? What was the last great album by The Rolling Stones? Now list all of the albums they released after that album. Odds are your pick for last great album was Some Girls (1978). How many post Some Girls albums do you own? How many of them were good? Be honest.

Now play the same game with REM, U2, Pink Floyd, and The Grateful Dead. 

I thought we were talking about Aerosmith.


So what don't you get?

The post Pump songs of Aerosmith are not good in my opinion. Why force yourself into a studio to push out mediocre material when you can hit the road and play the old hits that are fantastic? Nobody is going to judge you as a shameful artist for not having new material. I'm a big fan of Aerosmith, but my opinion is that they hurt their legacy with weak material. I don't get why you would want to push yourself into a studio and be forced to create new music when you might not be as inspired as you were ten or twenty years ago.

I'll always be a fan of Aerosmith and I'll tolerate the later material. My wife and I saw them in concert in 2002 at Van Andel Arena. They opened the show with 'Toys in the Attic' and rocked the house. All is not lost with my beloved band, but I'm gonna change the channel when they play 'Crazy' or 'Cryin' on the radio.

TonyDoug Wright is The Lost Soul of Rock and Roll and is also the head writer and owner of Champion City Comics. Follow him @TonyDougWright on Twitter. 

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