It’s been a long and turbulent rise to fame for Boston rock legends Aerosmith since their self-titled debut in 1973. Fighting through breakups, drug and alcohol problems, and health issues, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry have proven themselves to be one of music’s most potent duos, consistently harnessing the raw energy of rock and roll, while integrating soulful blues qualities in a manner both unique and conventional.
With the help of bassist Tom Hamilton, rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford, and drummer Joey Kramer, Aerosmith has earned four Grammy Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, and six American Music Awards, as well as an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, solidifying their legacy as one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
Despite their successes, as well as the problems contrasting them, Aerosmith keeps performing, releasing Music From Another Dimension!. This album is a result of numerous delays and a six-year period since the band last released any original material, the compilation Devil’s Got a New Disguise. It’s also been eight years since the band’s last studio album, Honkin’ On Bobo, which featured mostly blues covers, and eleven years since their last original, full-length album, Just Push Play.
It wasn’t the band’s intention for such a long break between releases, but Tyler’s health problems and desires to pursue solo endeavors, such as being a judge on American Idol, prevented a hasty release for Music From Another Dimension!, a project which has been in the works since 2006. Despite such a long break, the band proves age isn’t an issue, releasing their most volatile work since Get A Grip, while blending in, or pounding in, elements from Toys in the Attic.
Such elements can be heard, both musically and lyrically, in the album’s first single, “Legendary Child,” an explosive reminder of why people fell in love with Aerosmith 40 years ago. The song is introduced by the band’s classic, drawn-out harmonies, reminiscent of “Sweet Emotion,” and Perry’s raunchy lead guitar, reminiscent of “Walk This Way,” right down to the lines “I took a chance at the high school dance / Never knowing wrong from right / And that same show 40 years ago / Is being televised tonight.” The entirety of the song is delivered in a fast-paced torrent of energy provided by Tyler’s persistent tenacity, single-handedly proving the worth of these Boston rockers while dismissing any questions about age interfering with their musical abilities.
“Street Jesus” serves as another example of the raw dynamism developed when Tyler and Perry get together in the studio, but it also shows off the quality of the other band members, as Kramer drives the song with his raucous yet rhythmic drumming. Hamilton and Whitford are given the opportunity to construct a skeleton for the song, which proves more vital to its overall atmosphere than the lead guitar, the wild lyricism, and the progressive harmonies filling it.
The band’s versatility can be seen as much in their fast tracks as in their ballads. The high, raw nature of Tyler’s voice allows for a vulnerability to emerge, which he can then crescendo into an explosive climax, the result of which can be caught on “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You,” featuring Carrie Underwood, and “We All Fall Down,” a song written by American singer-songwriter Diane Warren.
While the former is a country-style approach to a power ballad, it’s only unique feature is Underwood, whereas “We All Fall Down” provides a perfect example of Tyler’s ability to make emotional experiences accessible and possible to overcome. The vulnerability of his vocals, while laid on top of soft piano and guitar, embodies heartbreak, with the lines “When it all seems to all go wrong / Remember nobody can always be strong / We all fall down.” This builds into a powerful chorus, which allows for an emotional progression throughout the rest of the song, resulting in a sense of satisfaction and acceptance.
Music From Another Dimension! is a traditional Aerosmith album, mindful of the band’s past, yet excited for their future. Fans of the band will find no surprises on this album, as it doesn’t exactly foray into new territory, and newcomers will most likely see the band’s mass appeal while it is made accessible for a new generation of Aerosmith fans to experience. Aside from this, the Boston natives have finally released the energy they have had bottled up for the past decade in a manner proving their relevance and supporting their case as one of the greatest and most influential rock bands of all time.
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