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Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1988: Aerosmith- Gems

Posted in 1978, 1979, 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2022 by 80smetalman

Special thanks goes out to 2loud for this album. If he hadn’t written a post on “Gems,” I most likely still wouldn’t have heard of it. I blame it on the fact that by November, 1988, I was settling into family life in the UK, with my first born very much on the way. Therefore, I couldn’t give music my full or even half full attention. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. Of course, the other reason why it passed me by was that “Gems” is a compilation album put forward by Aerosmith’s old label, Columbia Records who still could make a few bucks out of the band and my trips to record stores by then were almost non existent, so unless it was a big album, it most certainly passed me by.

The saying ‘better late than never’ applies to this as I am glad that, inspired by 2loud’s post, I sat down and listened to it and boy was I impressed! As you know, I always site hidden gems on any album I write about and here we have an entire album full of them. What is more, I can’t help thinking that the tracks were cleaned up a bit before being put on the album. Take “No Surprise” for instance. It comes from the “Night in the Ruts” album which I have always considered to be a total dirge. However, on “Gems,” it sounds really clear and now I fully appreciate the track much more than on the original album. Even the two tracks from my all time favourite ‘Smith album, “Toys in the Attic,” seem to sound better and that’s a feat in itself. Here’s another paradox which is me, “Round and Round” is the penultimate track on my favourite album but I don’t mind the fact that it’s not picked for the job on “Gems.”

I think what “Gems” achieves is showcase how great Aerosmith’s songs can be once you get past the hits. None of the songs from the 1980 “Greatest Hits” album are on this album and that’s a good thing. In addition, you get a lot of the songs from the earlier albums, when the band was still hungry and they hadn’t made the transition from musicians dabbling in drugs to druggies dabbling in music. “Mama Kin” is the best example of this. I forgot how great those opening riffs are. However, even the songs from the albums after the transition sound really great. “No Surprise” has already been mentioned but there seems to be a different swagger to “Jailbait” off “Rock in a Hard Place.”

One song, “Chip Away the Stone” from the “Live Bootleg” album is included in the tracks, so Columbia Records didn’t leave any stone unturned when looking for the gems. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, they chose all the right tracks for “Gems.” While this album was most likely meant for the hardcore Aerosmith fans, I think casual fans would appreciate it too.

Track Listing:

  1. Rats in the Cellar
  2. Lick and a Promise
  3. Chip Away the Stone
  4. No Surprise
  5. Mama Kin
  6. Adam’s Apple
  7. Nobody’s Fault
  8. Round and Round
  9. Critical Mass
  10. Lord of the Thighs
  11. Jailbait
  12. Train Kept a Rollin’
Aerosmith

Steve Tyler- vocals, harmonica, piano

Joe Perry- lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals

Brad Whitford- rhythm and lead guitar

Tom Hamilton- bass

Joey Kramer- drums, percussion

Additional Musicians:

Jimmy Crespo- lead guitar on “Jailbait”

Rick Dufay- rhythm guitar on “Jailbait”

David Woodford- saxophone

Richard Supa- piano

Mark Radice- piano on “Chip Away the Stone”

My thanks once again goes out to 2loud for turning me on to a great album. “Gems” is definitely that, full of great but not overplayed Aerosmith classics. I can’t recall them playing any of these at Download 2017 but no matter, I got this great album.

Next post: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- Up Your Alley

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

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Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1982: Aerosmith- Rock in a Hard Place

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-Aerosmith_-_Rock_in_a_Hard_Place

Two reasons exist for why I have never listened to Aerosmith’s 1982 album “Rock in a Hard Place” until this week. Yes, I hang my head in shame and will whip myself mercilessly for this transgression. If I may address the court, my first defense is of course, being in the military and spending eight months out of the twelve in this year overseas. A lot of music passed by without my notice. The second reason was that between the years of 1980-85, I considered Aerosmith to be lost in the rock wilderness. In my mind and many others too, they had truly gone from musicians dabbling in drugs to druggies dabbling in music. I don’t know if was during the tour for this album but I heard a story that when they played live, a roadie would have a collapsible table near the stage and every time there was a guitar solo, Steve Tyler would go to that table and snort the eight lines of coke that the roadie had laid out for him. However, like so much of the stories like that, it was probably more hype than truth.

So what did I think of my introduction to “Rock in a Hard Place?” For one, it wasn’t the diamond in the rough that lain hidden for over 30 years. I wouldn’t hold in the same regard as I do classics like “Toys in the Attic” or “Get Your Wings.” However, I do think it was better than the 1979 “Night in the Ruts.” While the first few songs of “Rock in a Hard Place” is a bit of the dirge that its predecessor was, the second half of the album for me is quite good. While, I like the intro of “Jailbait” and it is better than the next two songs, which ironically are the two singles released from the album, it doesn’t really grab me until track four, “Bolivian Ragamuffin.” One surprise is that I have to say that “Cry Me A River” is their best ever attempt at a power ballad and that includes some of their better known ones in the 90s. “Joanie’s Butterfly is a decent tune but my favourite on the album is definitely the title track. It seems that on “Rock in a Hard Place,” the band came down long enough to just relax and enjoy making music. If I listened to the album when I should have, I would have said to the band, “Remember when you you to sound like this?” at the title track. Saying that, the best song is followed on by the last two which take the album out nicely. “Push Comes to Shove” is a very tidy closer.

I would be negligent in my duties if I didn’t point out that this was the album without guitarist Joe Perry and rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford would leave during the recording. In fact, he only plays on “Lightning Strikes.” I must say that from the solos, I thought that Jimmy Crespo is a good guitarist in his own right. At least enough where I never found myself saying “Come back Joe, all is forgiven.”

Track Listing:

1. Jailbait

2. Lightning Strikes

3. Bitches Brew

4. Bolivian Ragamuffin

5. Cry Me a River

6. Prelude to Joanie

7. Joanie’s Butterfly

8. Rock in a Hard Place

9. Jig is Up

10. Push Comes to Shove

Aerosmith line up for Rock in a Hard Place

Aerosmith line up for Rock in a Hard Place

Steve Tyler- vocals

Jimmy Crespo- guitar, backing vocals

Rick Dufay- guitar

Tom Hamilton- bass

Joey Krammer- drums

For a band in the wilderness, it could be said that Aerosmith were calling out to be found. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear them at the time. If I had heard this album back then, I would have most certainly listened to it. But as they say, better late than never.

Next post: Black Sabbath- Live Evil

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