Columbia Records, 1987
REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/06/2006
Ah yes, the comeback album, from the artist that defines what a comeback really is.
The second life for Aerosmith began right here on Permanent Vacation. Shades of 80s production and Desmond Child are present now, with songwriting help and huge echo (think of Bon Jovi, or don't, if you want to keep your lunch). The tricks only enhance a strong set of songs from the sobered-up, reunited band, and this is by far the catchiest and strongest full set of songs since Rocks.
The band sounds tight and rejuvenated on "Rag Doll," bolstered by Joey Kramer's strong drumming and some tasteful brass. "Magic Touch" and "Girl Keeps Coming Apart" are badass rock songs, fun and slightly menacing but never stooping to cliche or pander. "St. John" is all bass, finger snaps and attitude, unlike anything else in the Aerocanon, and Steven Tyler sells it with a cool, understated performance. Keeping in that vein is an honest-to-God instrumental, "The Movie," an entertaining experiment worth your time.
However, the production sounds a lot like other 80s rock of the time, suggesting that Aerosmith felt they had to lose a bit of originality to keep pace with Def Leppard and Bon Jovi. Fortunately, the songs and band's veteran attitude overcomes this attempt at sameness, and the sense of humor (evident on the title track) and love of blues ("Hangman Jury") still are intact. Only the cover of "I'm Down" and the sappy ballad "Angel" are fairly disposable (not that "Angel" is bad, but it spawned the 90s Aeroballad, and I can't forgive that).
Still, when the band kicks in on "Heart's Done Time," you get the strong sense they are glad to be back, and it's good to have them back.