Aerosmith‘s 2012 “comeback” album Music From Another Dimension! received very mixed reviews. (When I say “mixed”, that’s a euphemism for “it was widely dismissed by the critics”). Perry and Tyler appeared on the Jonathan Ross chat show in the UK to promote it and resembled a couple of sulky teenagers after an argument over a girlfriend. All does not look well.
However it’s worth noting that Aerosmith had another comeback album 28 years ago which had a similar response.
By 1979, Aerosmith were multi platinum artists – and at breaking point.
They had starred in the dreadful Sgt Pepper movie where they performed Come Together, whilst Steven Tyler fought Peter Frampton on screen. Even this became political: Tyler had to die by accident, because, as Joe Perry put it, “There’s no f- way that Steven is gonna get directly offed by Frampton.” When the soundtrack album came out the industry joke was that it was the first album to be shipped platinum and returned double platinum. Still struggle to believe a film with Steve Martin, Beatles music and Aerosmith could be all that bad? Here’s the trailer:
Draw The Line hadn’t been the success that Rocks had, and the band was arguing – doing too many banned substances – and the record label was putting pressure on the band to write another hit. Aerosmith were due to tour in the summer, but the album got delayed and they pulled out of supporting Led Zeppelin at Knebworth, amongst other dates.
In addition to these delays, guitarist Joe Perry was told he owed the band $80,000 in room service bills from the last tour. His manager suggested he write a solo album and pay off the bill from the record company advance.
With that thought having been planted, Joe Perry quit the band after his wife, Elissa had poured milk over Tom Hamilton’s wife Terry during an argument after a show in Cleveland.
Said Steven Tyler, “We split up over a glass of spilt milk – can you believe it?”
Aerosmith auditioned for a new guitarist. Former UFO man Michael Schenker might have joined them. He came to an audition dressed in black leather jacket and black leather trousers. He was greeted by English producer Gary Lyons who proved not to be cut out for the Diplomatic Service. Lyons said “Just for a laugh I stopped the tape and said to him, “Who do you think you are goose-stepping in here wearing your Nazi uniform? Who won the war anyway? Go on – get outta here!” It was like that Fawlty Towers episode right? But Schenker didn’t find it funny, so he walked out”.
Good grief – it’s little wonder Schenker didn’t see the funny side!
After three Joe Perry Project solo albums, Perry and the band were reconciled in 1984. Former Van Halen producer Ted Templeman was chosen to produce the new album. He got the band in the studio to play their songs with all tape machines switched off just to give him a feel for the material. Unbeknownst to the band, Templeman was secretly recording the songs. Many of these early takes ended up on the final record.
This thus proved to be the best decision since the writer of The Exorcist decided that the line “Your mother knits socks in hell” needed a bit more pep.
Aerosmith released the new album – Done With Mirrors – to a relatively indifferent world in 1985: but just when I was looking for a band to “discover” myself. For me, the album came just at the right time….
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Record #155: Aerosmith – Draw The Line
Next: The Re-birth of Aerosmith
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