AEROSMITH: Permanent Vacation (1987)


Aerosmith, as we all know, hit the gold mine when Permanent Vacation came out and eventually went 5 times Platinum in both Canada and the U.S.

That’s some serious albums sold and some serious cash being made.

Aero as we all know released Done With Mirrors which did not set the world on fire in terms of sales in 1985. In mine and Tbone’s world, it did set our world on fire. I have raved on about this album forever and a day(I even told Joe Perry that back in 2003 to his face) so I’m not going there. We all know that deal.

Geffen Records did not feel any love towards DWM’s so come 1987 after Aero sobered up it was onto a new album and Geffen wasn’t fooling around. John David Kalodner wanted outside writers so what were Joe Perry and Steve Tyler supposed to do?

They had to adapt to that change. Bring in the outsider writers (Desmond Child, Jim Vallance, and Holly Knight), Bring in a new producer (Bruce Fairbairn along with Mike Fraser and Bob Rock), and in doing so keep the suits at Geffen off there backs.^

It worked not only by the number of albums sold but by the fact that I still hear quite often on local crap radio the three singles that dropped from Permanent Vacation 33 years ago.

It’s kind of funny when I look at the Aero era at Geffen as opposed to the Columbia Records era of when Aerosmith was on that label from 1973-1982. The 1970’s era of Aerosmith I don’t have to tell you came out with some unbelievable classic studio albums (Aerosmith, Toys In The Attic, Rocks, Night In The Ruts, Get Your Wings, Draw The Line, Rock In A Hard Place and Live Bootleg).

Drugs were good for Aero in that Columba records era as classic song after classic song came out of these albums. Creativity is in full bloom but then addiction reared its ugly head and the band splinters with Perry at the end of 79 over spilled milk!

After the druggie cool garage rock sound of Done With Mirrors which was the Geffen debut of Aerosmith, it was time for a change.

Change at times is good but even though Aerosmith streamlined there sound on Permanent Vacation they still delivered the goods lyrically and musically.

Permanent Vacation opens with “Hearts Done Time” which is a great opener. The production is slick sounding no doubt about it but Aero retains the swagger that groove they are known for.  What’s very noticeable on this album that Joey Kramers Drums and Tom Hamiltons Bass are cranked up! That’s a good thing.

The singles of course drove the album up the charts that being “Rag Doll”, “Dude Looks Like A Lady”, “Angel”, are still staples today on all classic rock formats in 2020.

“Dude Looks like A Lady” has that classic Aero shuffle and along with the added actual real horns on the studio. Dude is still a great tune. Desmond Child earned his writing credit on this song along with Tyler and Perry.

“Angel” is Aero playing the late 80s power ballad game. “Angel” written by Tyler along with Child went to Number 3 on the singles chart. Angel is an ok song. When it comes to Aeroballads there are way better ones out there( Dream On!!!) but I get it. Aero had to play the game and at times we have all had to play the game!

“Magic Touch” I always liked as well. How about that chorus which is the money shot.  Such a brilliantly written tune by Perry-Tyler-Vallance.

When I mention Aero grooves how about “Rag Doll”? Joe Perry plays that steel guitar on this track like he’s boss. Joey Kramer keeps the AeroTrain on the tracks with the drums. Another tune that features real horns and those cannot be beaten. Tyler though sings a real cool vocal as well. Over the years though Tyler has ragged on about how along with Jim Vallance and Joe Perry they had 99% of the song finished but it was called “Rag Time”. John Kalodner did not like Rag Time as a title. So John brought in another co-writer named Holly Knight and her contribution was to rename the song from “Rag Time” to “Rag Doll” and in doing so got a full writing share and credit for the track. That drove Steve-o bonkers!

I think of all the singles “Rag Doll” is my fav. Give Holly credit Steven as Rag Time doesn’t sound as smooth.

The outside writers as you gather by now played a huge hand on this record.

7 of the album’s tracks had a helping hand in the creation of this record. 

Now in saying that “Hangman Jury” wrote by Tyler/Perry and Vallance is such a stellar track. Love that harmonica that Steve plays and Joe with that acoustic intro and so cool how the song slowly builds up. 

whoa boy, dontcha line the track-a-lack-a”

Aero though had a few of there own on as in the brilliant “St John” was written by Steve and “Girl Keeps Coming Apart” written by Tyler/Perry has that that Aeroswagger but in a late 80s kind of way.

The real gem though on this record is the Brad Whitford/Steven Tyler composition of the title track. “Permanent Vacation” is Aero at its finest. Brad lays down an opening brilliant riff and what a fucking great solo Whitford dials up in the song. Lyrically Tyler is on his A-game here. Fairbairn with his fantastic production (how about that airplane whizzing by sonically at the start) delivers the goods. 

Wowzers! I can’t believe Aero does not play this tune anymore!! C’mon guys at some point bring it back!

“I’m Down” is a cover tune written originally by two fellows whose last names are Lennon/McCartney. Aero does an ass-kicker version of this tune and come to think of when they did cover tunes(Dream On, Train Kept A Rollin, Think About It, Big 10 Inch Record, Remember Walking In The Sand) they made them sound like there own. 

An instrumental moody tune called “The Movie”(written by the whole band) ends the album. A so so track at best.

In the fall of 87, the chips were down on Aerosmith but by putting aside their egos and collaborating with others as well as adding a new production team Permanent Vacation brought back a band pretty much on life support to a band that was at the top for the next bunch of years.

^- In the Ted Templeman book, Ted explains that he was set to produce the followup to Done With Mirrors(which Ted produced) but declined it as Ted was supposed to produce David Lee Roths followup to Eat Em And Smile but when it came time to start on Dave’s album. Roth fired Ted as Dave wanted to do it himself( Roth did with Steve Vai which became Skyscraper). Ted was pissed as he gave up a million bucks as he lost out on the Aero job. Ted figured Dave didn’t want him producing the competition so to speak.

Who knows what the truth is what but it makes for a cool read.










32 thoughts on “AEROSMITH: Permanent Vacation (1987)”

    1. Yeah Scott. I like how you said messy. It has alot of that old Aero swagger in the tracks still which is good.
      Pump was Aero headed into the 90s…Great album but i’m thinking i may like PV especially now as it sounds way better on vinyl!


  1. Nice post, Deke – I like that I’m reading about a ‘permanent vacation’ at back to school time!
    Good to read about Whitford’s solo on the title track, I enjoy that when the 2nd guitar player shows he can really play too. At the GNR show a couple years ago, Richard Fortus did just that on a couple tracks as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some heavy hitter writers with those 3. They did so many hit songs in the 80’s and there are not too many rock albums 1 or all of them are on it. Especially Desmond as he bounced around to Kiss, Bon Jovi and Aerosmith.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I liked Aero with outside writers. It worked. And the tracks which didn’t make it as singles is the reason why this album is a favourite for me, like Magic Touch, Hangman’s Jury, the title track and Hearts Doin Time. Of course I like the singles as well but it’s those other tracks which resonate.
    Cool little tidbit about Templeman and Roth and Aerosmith

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I bought Permanent Vacation at the time and loved it….and yes the title track was the one that hooked me on it. The radio hits were good but that title track was in a class by itself…it sounded more like them.

    Like Heart, ZZ Top, and Cheap Trick for a while they had to change to survive…I would have rather heard the raw sound of Toys in the Attic but it was the 80s.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea they had to change with the 80s so I get it….I do count the title track as one of my favorites by them.

        I just replied on the other… yes I love the sound of that album more than this one. It did sound like old Aerosmith.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I was going to beg to differ about “Permanent Vacation” being the album’s true highlight, but then I thought about what you said. Tyler’s lyrics, yep, they are indeed top notch. I love Magic Touch and Heart’s Done Time, but Permanent Vacation has more vintage Aero vibe.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah it must have been a relief for sure. It also shows you that’s where the talent really lies, with the person not the substances.

        I think they stepped it up further on Pump personally speaking.

        Liked by 1 person

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