Philadelphia, PA – 1976-1977
I’ve wanted to write this for a while. Aerosmith is to American hard rock as Star Wars is to SciFi. I’ve loved Aerosmith since I was 13 years old. I’ve not only purchased nearly every album they’ve ever released, but I’ve also bought the same records in different formats. Vinyl, cassette, and CD. So I’ve made all of the payments necessary to this band as a fan.
I’m not going to review them as a band, or as a professional music reviewer. These are my personal opinions based on how old I was, how the music made me feel, what was going on in my life at the time, and what I felt were quality songs. If you want real history on this band, go buy a book or read online about them. I’m not going to get into personalities or anything about the inner workings of this group because that’s not what this is about.
Let’s face it, it’s not the guys, it’s what they did for you and how their music made you feel. I feel I’m warranted to say all of the following things because I’ve made all of the donations I’m ever going to make to this band’s bank accounts by buying their records and seeing them live. I love them, and will always love them for the decades of joy they’ve brought to my heart.
Sometimes I will be harsh with my words, but it comes from a place of pure love. So let’s get started.
Aerosmith – Debut album – 1973
My older sister hung out with a neighborhood band back in 1975/1976. They were called The Grim Reaper. I think because they played that song by Blue Oyster Cult. They also played the song, Dream On’ by Aerosmith and she must have liked that song because she brought this record home. I had heard that song played on the radio for several years but didn’t think much of it or even knew who did it. I was too buried in my love for the band Steppenwolf.
Let’s start with the cover of this album. I’ll run through this from left to right. This is a pretty furry band. What’s with Joey Kramer’s mutton chops? Then we have Joe Perry looking like Injun Joe from Twain’s book, Tom Sawyer. Tom Hamilton looks like he cut his hair with kid’s scissors and a razor blade. Steven Tyler looks kinda cool. Brad Whitford looks like a girl no one ever wants to date, let alone be seen with.
Wildwood, New Jersey – 1977
On a side note, the name Injun Joe came from this kid named Tony Riccardi. He was this guy that met my older sister and fell in love with her in the summer of 1977. He would be sniffing around our house trying to get her to go to the beach or take her out on a date and she just wasn’t into him. He was a moderately good-looking Italian guy about a year or so older than me. He was fit and I didn’t get why she wasn’t into him. Except for the fact that he seemed to only own one bathing suit. It was this dark blue and yellow striped speedo-looking thing he wore every day. Sis wasn’t into him, but I got to know him and he seemed nice. We started hanging out a little bit. But I’m thinking now he may have been just spending time with me to get to my sister. Distract the brother, bag the sister.
I noticed he was missing the pinky on his one hand. I asked him about it and he told me that he lost it in a bane saw accident in woodshop at school. My friends and I had all taken woodshop in school and heard all of the horror stories, myths, and legends about mishaps in wood and metal shop at our collective schools, but we never met anybody that some stuff had actually happened to. Tony Riccardi was that man. All that was left of the digit was a little knuckle.
I remember we were sitting in Sam’s Pizza and he asked our waitress for a pen. She gave it to him and went back to waiting tables. “What are you going to do with that?”
When the waitress returned to retrieve her pen, Tony asked her if she wanted to meet Herbie.
Tony held out his fist to her. On the little pinky knuckle stub, he had drawn a smiley face with her pen. He could actually wiggle it and make it say hi.
The waitress turned away in revulsion.
“Ton… I think I’m starting to get why my sister doesn’t want to date you.”
Anyway, Tony Riccardi was the person who upon viewing my records, saw the Aerosmith cover and called Joe Perry, Injun Joe. I never forgot that because he looks dead-on like an angry or sad native American from popular literature.
When you’re 14 years old every guy who is older than you looks like a grown man. All of the guys in Aerosmith were only in their early 20’s but to me, they might have well been in their 30’s.
The album had modest sales and I suppose they had to put, Featuring: “Dream On” on the jacket so people would say, Oh yea, that song’s pretty good.
I was in our basement listening to records on my dad’s stereo and shooting pool on our billiard table. One of the records I put on that day was this one. I’m going to go through this song by song. (Don’t worry, I’ll be brief.)
Make It: Great song. A kick-ass opening and it felt like it was about becoming a rockstar, so I was down.
Somebody: Another great song. Loved it more than Make It.
Dream on: Already tired of it by then.
One Way Street: Great jam song where I got to hear the different guitar playing styles by Joe and Brad. Also some fine harmonica work by Steven.
Mama Kin: Another solid rocker. Yes, I like this song too!
Write Me: I wrote letters to girls back then so I could relate because getting letters from girls in the mail was a big deal back then. Great song.
Movin’ Out: Not bad. It has its moments. (I always liked the little laugh in the beginning)
Walkin’ the Dog: They didn’t write it, but it’s a sweet little closer for the record. My mom loved this song.
This record got me really interested in this band. It was like Steppenwolf, but harder and faster. I really liked the songs and how they made me feel. I was beginning to have some real love for this band.
I eventually learned how to play nearly every song on this album on guitar. But that wouldn’t happen for another 2 years.
Let’s move on.
Philadelphia, PA – 1976.
I was in the garage with my friend Michael and we were listening to various records on my little green and white record player. We were listening to Bill Cosby, George Carlin, and some other rock music records. Out of all my friends back then, Michael was probably my best friend. He was a year younger than me, but we just sort of worked as friends. He lived a few doors down and wasn’t like the other kids in the neighborhood. We had some great times together and were super close. I felt bad for him because unlike me with my zit face Mike had full-blown acne. That’s different. That scars your face for life. Also, his parents never got his teeth fixed and he always had an overbite. I never understood that. but we were good buddies and at some point, I want to write about our adventures together.
I had the first Aerosmith album and we were listening to that and smoking cigarettes. I asked him if his brother Jimmy had any more Aerosmith albums. He said he had this one and their second record. I asked him what it was called.
Mike: “Get Your Wings.”
Me: “I don’t want to listen to Paul McCartney and Wings right now, besides it’s my sister’s and she probably doesn’t want me bringing it out to the garage.”
Me: “What’s Aerosmith’s second record called?”
Mike: “I said, Get Your Wings.”
Me: “But I don’t want… wait, is that the name of the record? Get Your Wings?”
Mike: “I’ve been trying to tell you…”
Me: “That’s a crap name for a record, but yea… go get it. I want to hear it!”
Get Your Wings – 1974
So here we are.
Okay, again with the cover. Joe looks cool. Joey Kramer actually looks the most handsome and rugged in the band. Steven looks hungover and on drugs, and why is he showing off his bulge? Brad looks sad or stoned. (Understandable) Tom Hamilton has let his razor cut grow out and looks presentable. (and a bit, impish!) It looks like the title for the record was an afterthought because it’s just this little lame phrase slapped on the cover like a little sticker. Look at it! Crap.
Michael returned with the record. Let’s run down the playlist. But before I do, let me say this. You have your whole life to write your first album. If you get signed to a label by some miracle, you have to come up with 8 to 10 more songs by the next year. Super pressure, and frankly I don’t know how bands did it back then, but maybe that’s why I never ended up in that vocation.
Aerosmith was a relatively new inexperienced act that had some magic between them. I later heard that they brought in some hired guns to play on the album to punch up the tracks but that’s not what this story is about.
Same Old Song and Dance: Cool opening track. Joe always had a knack for coming up with cool riffs and he definitely hits it on this one. A solid opening rocker. I liked it.
Lord of the Thighs: A little long and slow for me back then. But Brad Whitford plays some killer guitar on that tune. I later grew to like this song because of its theme and my adoration of women’s legs.
Spaced: Ahh… it is the title. A little spacey and kind of a dated-sounding song at this point. I wasn’t feeling it. But it has a cool psychedelic late 60’s vibe.
Woman of the World: Too long and lame. It’s a throwaway song that finishes side one, and I just never felt it no matter what it did.
S.O.S Too Bad: They used to play this a lot in concert and I never understood why. Maybe it was to get it out of the way to get to the good songs. Never liked it.
Train Kept a Rollin’: This is a retread of an old Yardbirds tune. They must have performed it live as a young band and people liked it. But I will say this, It’s a great rendition of the song, and Aerosmith went on to make it their own. Their live version is an incredible song and I love it. We played this song in my first band, Renegade so there’s that.
Seasons of Wither: This is the most beautiful song on the album. I love this song. (Renegade played this too) It’s a lovely song and the arrangement is gorgeous. I loved that although I loved Aero for the way they made me feel with the energy, this song was gentle and really touched me. Steven really touched the melancholy sound of the song. Oh god, and the strings on the cello on the second chorus. Bliss!
Pandora’s Box: This is a piece of trash song written by Joey Kramer that is about cunnilingus. It’s cheap and obvious and it’s clear they were out of songs for this record to produce this turd.
To sum up, Same Old Song and Dance. Cool song with a good Perry riff, and good lyrics. Train Kept a Rollin’, very exciting song. Seasons of Wither. Gorgeous. That’s it for this record. I’m just going to talk about what was happening at the time, and how the songs made me feel.
At this point, I love the first record, but I’m not thrilled with the sophomore effort of this band.
But there is definitely something happening here with this new band.
Tune in next Thursday for the next chapter of the 9 part series!
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