Aerosmith ‘Rocks’…RockClub: a book club for albums
It’s time for RockClub…a book club, but for albums! Where we give you some assigned listening and you, in turn, have an excuse to carve out some time to be intentional about listening to music.
This weeks RockClub featured album was the 4th studio album from the bad boys from Boston.
The 1976 album spawned classic rock mainstays, Last Child & Back in the Saddle…along with fan favorites like Combination & Rats in the Cellar.
When it came out…reviews were harsh. Rolling Stone said Rocks was a pale remake of their earlier hits. And the Village Voice called them a Zeppelin imitation.
It is possible that Rocks is when Aerosmith began to lose steam…and it’s easy to understand with Draw the Line, Night in the Ruts and Rock in a Hard Place following. It’s almost a perfect bottom of the list ranking of Best to Worst Aerosmith records.
That being said, many musicians cite Rocks as being super influential. Slash from Guns n’ Roses, James Hetfield from Metallica both say this album inspired them to play guitar. Kurt Cobain had Rocks on a list of favorite albums too.
And while the next decade watched Aerosmith fade into drug use and people leaving the band…Rocks was a raw kick-ass rock album that remains on my list of favorites of all time.
That being said, it’s been a while since I’ve listened to the album all the way through. So, let’s jump over to Facebook live and dive a little deeper. Join the conversation @97Xradio. Let me know your experience with the album that spawned a couple of rock radio hits and a ton of fans that still listen to 97X.
The Album Review:
It’s Friday. I’m 10 beers in. The wife and kids are in bed. My sister who stopped by for a few drinks has passed out in the spare room.
I fire up the Rocks album on my phone because CD is upstairs. So, Amazon Music it is.
Boom! There’s my son! Damnit! Gotta hit pause. It’s ok. He’s gonna chill on the couch while I dip into the 4th album from the bad boys from Boston.
On first blush, I am excited about this album that has so much history.
Slash had a girl that he was chasing…finally got to her house and she put on Rocks. He totally ignored the girl and focused on the music. That was my introduction to Rocks.
- Back in the Saddle then Last Child! Rock radio royalty!
- Then Rats In The Cellar! Such a punky song. They had to be influenced by what was going on in the New York underground scene. But don’t leave out the harmonica. This is the blues, dammit!
- Combination! A really great tune with some harmonies that kill to this day. Joe & Steven…Toxic Twins are killing it.
- Sick as a dog. Beautiful harmonies again with a monster riff that doesn’t need them.
- Nobody’s Fault! Dark! This is not your Aerosmith party band from the 80’s. I guess this album is a lot darker than I remembered. It’s got such a raw vibe.
- Get the Lead Out! Love me some Aerosmith grooviness! This is a song that reminds me of the style they land on for the next few albums. Taps you on the shoulder and reminds you that it was made in the 70’s.
- Lick & a Promise. Storytelling song about the rock and roll lifestyle. It’s my least favorite song on the album. (reminds me of No Surprise off of Night in Ruts...which isn't my favorite song either)
- Home Tonight. Maybe the perfect closing song. The family are tucked into their beds. I’m about to be because I’ve killed my 12er and I'm out of beer.
Here's Dwyer's take on the album:
This album blows any dust off the idea that Aerosmith was going to settle into a friendlier style of rock, just because they had a radio smash with Toys In The Attic the previous year.
“Back In The Saddle” is a thumping opener, even though it wouldn’t be released as a single until almost a year later. “Last Child” was the first single and hit, and “Rats in the Cellar” sounds very much like “Toys,” and if I’m speculating—it probably was going to close the previous album.
The twin guitars here on this album are pretty forceful, maybe the best of their career. While Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton are probably the best rhythm section in rock about this time, not as sloppy as Zeppelin (“Nobody’s fault But Mine”) not as tight as Queen (“Tie Your Mother Down”.)
Tyler’s vocals really soar on Rocks between downright gritty on songs like “Last Child” and on the effects laden “Combination” he harmonizes with himself and Joe Perry. A Steven would increase as their career moved along.
As the album continued, I sort of got the idea that the songs were kind of sounding more like each other than I thought at the time. Steven Tyler sings a LOT of cliches—I know he didn’t write them all, but the cuteness of it all kinda got old for me. As kid, mind you—this was NOT the case!
And “Home Tonight” is my least favorite Aerosmith song of all time.