In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Love ‘em or hate ‘em, I have to respect their cockroach ability to adapt, survive and thrive for the better part of half a century.”
When I was growing up in the 90s, Aerosmith were lumped in with the LA hair metal of the time that was dominating the charts. Bands like Guns n Roses, Motley Crue and Poison. But a few years ago, I realised something, by the time Gunners released their breakthrough Appetite for Destruction, Aerosmith had already survived an entire career in rock, complete with massive hits, massive addiction problems and the odd burn out. So while I’ve never been a fan of the band, it’s the 80s and beyond version of Aerosmith I know and really don’t like. Maybe their first go ‘round has a lot more to offer. A theory I put to the test by listening to 1976’s Rocks.
Opening with Back in the Saddle, I can immediately hear why these guys were categorised with the hair metal giants a decade later. This isn’t as loud or heavy, or shred filled as Guns N Roses would be, but you can definitely hear the influence Aerosmith obviously had on those bands of the 80s. Crank the volume, the tempo, the aggression just a little bit more, and you have that Guns N Roses, Motley Crue sound. The flanged bass is something all of those bands exploited, and Joe Perry’s guitar work would only need that little extra push to sound like Slash at his peak.They then mix things up by bringing absolutely none of that to the funky swing of Last Child. But Aerosmith brings back the rock with an amped up blues feel in Rats in the Cellar that sounds like the basis for all of Motley Crue’s early hits. Built on a kick ass, classic rock guitar riff, Combination insists on adding vocals and a melody that never quite ruin it, although I think an instrumental version would be a whole lot more satisfying.
A title like Get the Lead Out is already pretty on the nose. So it’s surprising to hear the lyrics are even cornier, with mentions of “boogy”, “woogy”, and “hey good looking’, watchya got cookin’?” But here’s the real kicker, the title and lyrics seem gritty and raw compared to the terrible and clichéd guitar riff that fuels this piece of first class shit.
Rocks never made me all of a sudden love Aerosmith. But it did make me understand why they have been such a success for so long. In this 70s period, they were making pretty standard classic rock and roll. When their protégés gained massive success a decade later, they managed to jump on board that as well. In the 90s and 2000s, Aerosmith made perfectly safe, middle of the road power ballads for music’s laziest, most easily pleased fans. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, I have to respect their cockroach-like ability to adapt, survive and thrive for the better part of half a century.