Sunday, April 26, 2009

Taking Flight

The following piece is an adaptation of an e-mail between resident Fab Four afficianado Dave Tea and I, in which we discussed one of Aerosmith's early gems: Get Your Wings.

Some of you may be already familiar with the deliciously raunchy grooves found on classic-era Aerosmith albums (*which I term as everything from "Toys" back to their debut). One release that I think is exceptional all across the board is Get Your Wings, 1974 A.D. As a matter of fact, it's a close # 2 of my fave 'smith albums, exceeded only by their incredible self-titled debut (1973). Yes, unbelievably, Toys in the Attic ranks as #3 in my book for overall Aero-quality.

It would not take an expert to deduce that modern day Aerosmith is but a ghost of a once-mighty band. From the sappy, multi-tracked balladry of "I Won't Miss a Thing" to Joe Perry's horrendously awful solo CD (*perhaps the worst vocals I've ever heard on a recorded album), it's been a sad site to witness a once-amazing band's evolution into complete crap. Honestly, Aerosmith hasn't cut a really decent studio album in (30) years (*the last being Toys), although in the modern Aerosmith era, Nine Lives did come fairly close (*to being decent, not great). Their recent blues effort "Honkin' on Bobo" did capture a bit of that old "hutspah" as far as their orignial musical form was concerned; sadly, it was barely a blip on what has now become a somewhat startling collection of flat-line studio efforts and . . . *yawn* . . . greatest hits compilations.

Aerosmith's first three albums (Self-titled, Get Your Wings, Toys) are perhaps the finest three-album run of any American rock band - ever! (*KISS' first three albums are good, but not this good.) Straight-forward, no-bullshit, grab-you-by-the-throat-and-kick-your-ass rock music at its finest. Minimal overdubs gave the music an incredibly live feel, which obviously transcended well to their on-stage performances. Smart arrangements, deft fretwork, hooky tunes, and killer guitar tone were all in abundance, with most (*if not all) being tracked live - meaning that in the studio, everyone was playing the same song at the same time with the red button in the "on" position - not track by track as is now commonplace. Indeed, the good old days.

Although their first album gets my nod as the band's best work, Get Your Wings is a very close second. Besides the fantastic deep cut "Spaced", the album rocks head to toe with killer tracks like S.O.S. (Too Bad), Same Old Song and Dance, the hauntingly beautiful Seasons of Wither, and my personal fave, Lord of the Thighs (*check this cut out on the Live / Bootleg album - fuckin' amazing!) The icing on the cake is their cover of the Tiny Bradshaw classic - Train Kept a' Rollin', which to this day is still a staple of their live show.

"Toys", of course, needs none of my literary embellishment - quite possibly the band's crowning achievement as far as studio work is concerned. Although a bit more polished than their first two releases (*which can be both good or bad, depending on your taste), it's another side-to-side affair jam-packed with killer cuts and bad-ass guitar.

If you haven't re-visited some of your older Aero treasures, now's the perfect time to re-acquaint yourself with some of rock n' roll's finest riffery. - - J.

The Answer Is . . .

The Answer.

Perhaps you've heard these lads on XM or during non-rotation hours on MTV or VH1. You definitely haven't heard them the radio because, well, the radio doesn't play shit for music these days.

Drawing heavily from Zeppelin's crushing groove from the early 70's, this Irish quartet is poised on the brink of super stardom. So much so that they've even raised the eyebrow of one Mr. Jimmy Page, who effused, "If you want to see what Zeppelin was like in their glory days, go see The Answer." Some hearty praise, indeed.

Combining soaring, bluesy vocals with a classic Marshall guitar sound and a thunderous back-beat, the Answer's latest (5) song EP steamrolls through power cut after power cut, leaving no doubt as to their ability to deliver the groceries. Smart song-writing and an impressive band dynamic lend to an authentic classic rock listening experience.

I grabbed my copy of The Answer's EP off of, and it came with an extremely cool rockumentary DVD that included a video of "Never Too Late", as well as a live cut or two.

I've seen / heard a lot of up-and-coming acts that have been touted as the next coming of Led Zeppelin. Realistically speaking - that ain't never gonna' happen. But believe me - The Answer has come about as close as anybody in the post-Zeppelin era to actually achieving that status. As far as 70's power rock is concerned, present day, this is the top of the misty mountain. - - J.

You can check out The Answer here:
The Answer live on Letterman
My Space