Big Ones


Geffen Records, 1994

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Greatest-hits compilations can sometimes be a wonderful thing for an artist. They are the way for fans who aren't as familiar with someone's work to collect the songs they know and love while maybe becoming intrigued enough to try some other material.

But there is a downside to these collections. By focusing on the songs which are featured on the radio, there is a tendency to overlook (albeit unintentionally) tracks from the original albums which are just as good as -- and, in some cases, even better than -- the radio hits. Plus, the "hits" have been overplayed so much that the original master tapes are almost translucent.

In the case of Big Ones, Aerosmith's third best-of collection (and first for Geffen), the latter tends to be the case. Yes, these are the hits which gave Steven Tyler and crew a second lease on life, and there is a certain amount of pleasure in these tracks. But these songs have been overplayed to the point where hearing them again is almost unbearable, weakening their overall power.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The inclusion of three non-album tracks -- "Deuces Are Wild" from The Beavis And Butt-Head Experience and two new songs, "Walk On Water" and "Blind Man" -- are a mixed bag that both sum up the success that Aerosmith had in this stage of their career and the problem with their sound at the time. "Blind Man" is another cookie-cutter ballad a la "Crazy" and "Cryin'" (both of which are also featured on Big Ones), with very little power and very little coming across to allow older listeners to recognize this as the same band who did "Sweet Emotion." Granted, people ate up the ballads like dieters gobbling taste spoons at Baskin-Robbins. That isn't the excuse for this to become a collection of Aerosmith-lite.

As for the hits, they're all there on Big Ones -- well, almost. The failure to include even one song off of Done With Mirrors is inexcusable. It might not have set the world on fire, but there is still a lot of worthwhile material on this disc. Christ, if they could include "Eat The Rich" -- a song I liked -- that was never released as a single, they could have at least put on "Reason A Dog" or "Let The Music Do The Talking."

Therein lies the third -- and, ultimately, the biggest -- problem with this disc. The best songs from this period in Aerosmith's career were often tracks left to be discovered on the original albums. So Big Ones might feature "Livin' On The Edge" from Get A Grip, but unless you own the original album, you won't know how good tracks like "Walk On Down" are. It's not the tracks that are included, it's the tracks that are missing which speak the loudest.

Make no mistake, if all you want is a one-stop collection of all the songs that brought Aerosmith a second shot at fame, then Big Ones is a good selection. But it ultimately doesn't present the whole picture of Aerosmith at this stage in their career -- and it was a very enjoyable period, ballads notwithstanding.

Rating: C

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© 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.