Philadelphia, PA – 1977
The first time I heard a little bit of this album was over at my friend RJ’s house. I knew at that moment… I had to own it as soon as possible.
I think I bought this next record at Sam Goody records at the Roosevelt Mall in Philly before I went down the shore that year. I had the first album thanks to my older sister, I heard the second album thanks to my friend Mike, I owned Toys in the Attic, and now to collect the final piece of the Aerosmith catalog. This brings me to this masterpiece.
Aerosmith – Rocks – 1976
Toys in the Attic is to A New Hope, as Rocks is to The Empire Strikes Back.
This is my first choice for desert island records. There are obviously others, but this is the album I’d reach for first if the ship was sinking and I was going to be stranded on a desert island. To me, this the finest work by the band. They have reached their creative zenith and playing. They are one of the certified platinum hard rock acts of the decade. This is what they’ve been building to. A rough house rock album, fueled by rage and drugs. Just an amazing watershed moment in the band’s history. This is the quintessential Aerosmith original recording.
Or as I used to call it… The Soundtrack to My Life.
I listened to this album every day for two years straight. I literally played it so much it lost some of its fidelity because the stylus was dragged through the delicious grooves on the vinyl created by this glorious band. This record is the crown jewel to the soundtrack of my young teenage life. There is no other recording at the time that makes me feel the way this record made me feel in the summer of 1977. It felt as though Aerosmith had recorded every song just for me as a thank you for my loyalty.
Rocks is a love letter to me to tell me that I will survive puberty and will be okay. “We know how you’re feeling, Chaz. We know it feels weird, and it hurts. We know you want everything now. So do we. Let’s get there together through these songs. Take this metal medicine every day, and you’ll get better. Life will get better for you. We’ll never hurt you. We’ll never betray you. We’ll never give you a hangover. We’ll never cheat on you or break up with you. We’ll never scold or hit you. We’re your band. We’re the boys from Boston. We’re Aerosmith, and we belong to you.
I’ll tell you what… I’m not going to do this one track by track. I don’t need to. This record is their finest work, and no matter what anyone says, it is.
This album makes a singular statement. “Aerosmith. Rocks.”
And rock they do, sir.
Oh, and of course I had to buy this belt buckle and wear it every day!
If you can see it, it says 1977 on it so you know it’s legit!
Here’s a pic of my older sister and me. As you can clearly see from this old photo, I’m wearing not only an Aerosmith t-shirt, I’m wearing the very belt buckle I just showed you!
Okay, let’s move on.
Wildwood, NJ – 1977
Things had changed for the better for me. The nightmare of Fels Junior High was over and I was heading down the shore for the summer. Things were looking up for me.
I was on the boardwalk one day. I was probably just wandering around with my next-door neighbor. There was a cool store that was down by Marine Pier called The Fun Shop.
The Fun Shop was probably one of the most unique stores on the boardwalk. It had magic tricks, T-shirts, jewelry, music, and other cool junk for sale. Think Hot Topic before there was a Hot Topic. We were in there looking at some cool black and white prints of celebrities and bands. I was deeply in love with the actress from Charlie’s Angels, Farrah Fawcett, and of course all things Aerosmith.
What I didn’t realize at the time was probably all of their merch and memorabilia was bootleg stuff. The word “bootleg” originates from the practice of smuggling illicit items in the legs of tall boots, particularly the smuggling of alcohol during the American Prohibition era. The word, over time, has come to refer to any illegal or illicit product.
(especially of liquor, computer software, or recordings) made, distributed, or sold illegally.“bootleg cassettes”
1.an illegal musical recording, especially one made at a concert.The only access we had to celebrities back then was television, movies, and magazines. That’s it. No internet and no social media. Celebrities and rockstars lived on an exclusive planet in our galaxy that we mere mortals could only look upon in limited places. I bought a few photos of Farrah to hang on my wall and a cool photo of Aerosmith.But I saw a rack of record albums by artists I was familiar with but not the albums. A two album set by Led Zeppelin called Moby Dick. A Rolling Stones record called Garden State, and the album pictured below.
Aerosmith – Look Homeward Angel – 1976
If you look closely it’s obvious it’s a bootleg. It’s not released by the band. It’s a concert recorded at Madison Square Garden in NYC. It’s on Fantasy Discos, not their label which was clearly Columbia at the time. Luis Martinez is not Jack Douglas. Aerosmith isn’t recording any albums in Guatemala City. This product is a rip-off made by somebody to make money off the band. They wouldn’t see one cent from the sales of this record. All of the songs are from the 1975 tour to support Toys in the Attic. Because even though their next album was already out, there are no songs from that new record. This is a pure bootleg, through and through.
But to me, anything Aerosmith was something I had to own. The album was only five bucks. I didn’t really know what bootlegging and piracy was back then. I just wanted more rock by a band I loved. So I bought it and took it home.
To be honest, I loved this album. It’s not a bad recording and I got to hear Aerosmith play live for the first time. It was exciting and new to me. I played the hell out of this album and liked it as much as all of their albums. The second side is what really struck me about this record. The live rendition of Train Kept a Rollin’ is spectacular. It’s a furious explosion of hard rock live magic being performed by a great band. On a live recording, you’re lucky if you get those little improvisational extras you can’t get on a studio recording. Near the end of Train, Joe Perry just starts jamming the theme from Batman, the 1966 TV show. I went bananas. I loved that show as a child, and to hear my idol Joe Perry start playing Batman during one of their songs live was just sweet heaven. They close out the song and then burst into Toys in the Attic, which blows away the studio track. It’s so incendiary that it makes the original sound tame.
So even though at 14 years old I’m guilty of buying a bootleg record of Aerosmith, I loved it and it brought me hours of aural joy for many years.
I found this recently on YouTube. This to me really captures the band I fell in love with over 45 years ago. Just glorious!
Thank you, Gods of Rock!
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