Writing about Aerosmith Rocks is like writing about a few other huge rock releases like AC/DC’s Back In Black or Boston’s self titled million’s upon million’s selling debut! What the hell am I going to add that already hasn’t been said about Rocks before?
If you recall from my Aero review of Draw The Line. I first dabbled with Aero back in 1981 as my Dad’s friend at the time gave me a copy of Draw The Line as Dad’s friend didn’t really dig it too much. Fair enough so I spun Draw The Line and it knocked meant another time zone! I mean going from the comfy safe zone of KISS and now hearing the opening title track from Aero just ripped me apart. This band was loaded on all kinds of set and taking no prisoners!
1981 was a funny year to discover Aerosmith as when I did Joe Perry had left amidst split milk the year before and there was zero press on Aerosmith. But I dug what I heard from the Draw The Line so much so that it made me take my allowance that summer and purchase the Live Album of all Live Albums LIVE BOOTLEG.
Spread over two records LIVE BOOTLEG impacted me like no other Live album I had heard up to that point as well up to now for that matter! It is easily my all-time fav-o Live Record one in which that will get its own Impact Record segment at some point!
As we roll into 1982 the fall to be exact there is new Aero product in the form of Rock In A Hard Place which featured the new guitar duo of Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay. To this day RIAHP is a fantastic listen as Aero stepped up the Game so to speak. Great tunes and Steve Tyler stepped up ad brought his A Game even though the public didn’t think that as the album didn’t shift a ton of sales!
So from there eventually I think it may have been 1984 or so I finally bought 1976’s Rocks on cassette tape in which they’re was absolutely no packaging whatsoever as were many tapes backs than and is the main reason I disliked buying them but with my Walkman kicking about at times I had to do what I had to do!
I was blown away by Rocks back than and still today!
I mean look at those 9 Tracks! From opener Back In The Saddle to end of the album kinda somewhat ballad like Home Tonight Aerosmith drops the gauntlet on a total street rock record! This album reeks of the seedier side of life. All drugged up and nowhere to go Tyler/Perry went about crafting the ultimate rock record!
Back In The Saddle crushes right out of the gate with Tyler screaming that he’s “Baaaaaaaaaack’ where they ever gone? Nope, Aero hammers it right out of the gate as Joe and Brad Whitford slice and dice their guitars mashing up flinging out brilliant lightning bolts of riffs and this is just the first track!
I have to mention Jack Douglas and his fantastic production throughout Rocks. Jack does the perfect mix between polish and keeping it ruff round the edges!
You gotta hand it to Aerosmith as they could blast right out of the gate with a stomper of a track in Back In The Saddle but then can take the foot of the gas and go in a whole different direction by track 2. Last Child just oozes a cool funky groovy little ditty that does not lose any drive even if it’s played at half the speed the opening tune was….
Aero does indeed put the foot on the gas pedal and all bet’s are off as we zip right into Rats In The Cellar as Perry/Tyler load up a speedball and blast off into parts unknown during this track. Love the interplay of the guitars and Steve-o lying down some serious harp playing….
Joe steps up and delivers a fine tune on his own called Combination. What a friggin brilliant tune as Joe slices not only some mean guitar but tosses down a cool lead vocal(with help from Steven of course) that makes Combination end Side 1 with a swift kick in the ASS! Joe as u may recall also ended Side 1 of 1977’s Draw The Line with Bright Light Fright so maybe Joe thought the could have his own little space on each album. Course that ended with the Draw The Line album as Joe didn’t get his own sung tune on a Aero album again until 1993’s Get A Grip release….
End of Side 1….now onto …..Side 2
Sick As A Dog yeah about this track for minute! The first version I heard of this tune was the Booze N Blow ramped up version off of Live Bootleg which has Tyler and Perry shooting up at the speed of the light as the song is played at super-duper cool speed. On Rocks it’s got that more of a Sleazy Aero Pace with the foot off the Aero Gas Pedal! Check out the picture I posted below as you see the guys in Aero switch up instruments for this tune..
Tom Hamilton plays guitar on Sick as a Dog while both Tyler/Perry play Bass on the track! Ha…gotta love the 70’s! Gotta love Drugs in the 70’s I suppose…
Brad Whitford inner channels some Black Sabbath like riffs of rock and along with Tyler delivers a fist to your face in the form of Nobdy’s Fault. Yet for all that Sab like slow like riffage comes the melodic chorus which takes care of business. Man wouldn’t it be a hoot at the upcoming Vegas Aero Residency if Aero would blast this one out after that good awful Disney tune? My sister Kristin is attending one of Aero’s show’s this upcoming April and I bet ya $20 bucks that if Aero lifted off with Nobody’s Fault, Kristin will be hiding under the Merchandise table until the coast is clear! HAHAHA!
You know how I love end of the album GEMS as I call em? Well here comes two in the form of Get The Lead Out and Lick and a Promise. These songs deliver in spades. Get The Lead Out has that slinky strut of a track that is one of the all time great songs in the Aero catalogue and there are many folks! Love everything about this tune. Tylers crafyt lyrics. Perry’s brilliant solo all kept under warps by Joey Kramer on the drums! Before even Get The Lead Out is finished here comes Aero driving 110 Mph in a 55 zone and were blasting off yet again with Lick and a Promise. Jeepers this song is just frigging awesome. Lick and a Promise is a tough track. Don’t Fuck around with it. Just crank it up and not before too long you will be wanting to break things!
The album wraps up with the brilliant piano Tyler driven ballad Home Tonight. See Folk’s that’s how you do an album right. You slam the listener through the whole album and if you really have to keep the ballad til the last song. Aero was smart man. I really like how they did it this way on 1975’s Toys in the Attic and 1989’s Pump release’s
Home Tonight I have to say is a great end of the album’s track that does fit in with all the classic chaos before it. Like the calm after the storm so to speak!
Simply put this is one of my favourite albums ever! Period! Aero is blasted, higher than kites yet they all pull together and release a brilliant album from start to finish. It’s so good! A band on a creative juggernaut that wasn’t about to slow down any time soon!
Long Live the 70’s Man!