Geffen Records, 1989


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I remember when Pump, the 1989 release from Aerosmith, came out. I was working in college radio when we got a few copies in. I snagged one of the records and slapped it on the turntable. An hour later, I was convinced I had heard the best record Steven Tyler and crew had ever recorded.

It's now 15 years later. Times change, memories become cluttered with cobwebs and halcyon dreams of what I wish had been. And, the sorry mess known as rock radio, as always, has taken some of the decent songs on this disc and bludgeoned listeners to death with them. It's gotten to the point that if I hear "The Other Side," "What It Takes" or "Janie's Got A Gun" come on the radio, my hand moves to the channel-changing buttons faster than Ben Affleck can crank out a crappy movie.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

When placed in perspective, Pump is not a bad album, but coming off of the critical and creative success of Permanent Vacation, Aerosmith was going to have a hard time topping their last effort. In fact, they don't come close to doing so, never mind the fact they had no less than four hits off of this disc.

Things start off at a decent enough clip, with the one-two kidney punch that is "Young Lust" and "F.I.N.E." The band does seem to be at their tightest musically, crunching through these songs and leaving no doubt that singles like "Rag Doll" and "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" were no flukes. It is ironic, though, that the best songs on this particular album are three songs which weren't released as singles -- the previous two mentioned, and "Monkey On My Back."

Yet there is something different about this album - something that is missing. Maybe it is the sense of urgency that both Done With Mirrors and Permanent Vacation had. Maybe it was a turn -- albeit slight -- away from the blooze-rock image and more towards pop sensibilities. How else does one explain the inclusion of a ballad like "What It Takes" and a morality play like "Janie's Got A Gun," two of the weakest tracks on this disc?

Oh, sure, there was still a lot of experimenting going on, as can be heard on "Voodoo Medicine Man" and "Don't Get Mad, Get Even." But the overall vibe that one gets off of Pump is that Aerosmith was beginning to settle into an almost middle-of-the-road format with their music. "Love In An Elevator" and "The Other Side," while decent enough, don't really have the snap or the edge to them like other tracks, such as "Draw The Line" or even "Reason A Dog," lyrically or musically. It's that comfort level, I think, that eats at me the most -- rock and roll, after all, should be a little edgy.

Does this mean that Pump is a bad album? No, of course not. Maybe it's that this particular album just hasn't aged as well as others in Aerosmith's discography. Maybe it was that Aerosmith decided to play it safer with this one and found a comfort zone. Whatever the case, Pump is a step backwards for Aerosmith, but not a fatal one.

Rating: C+

User Rating: A-



© 2004 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Geffen Records, and is used for informational purposes only.