Columbia Records, 1973

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Did Steven Tyler and crew know when Aerosmith brought out their debut album in 1973 that they would go on to become one of the most beloved and influential rock bands of their time?

I don't know about that - and seeing I was all of two years old back then, I didn't think to ask Tyler about any plans for musical world domination. But one thing is clear about the self-titled disc they put out: for the most part, it's held up well and is still an enjoyable album today.

Aerosmith will forever be known as the release that spawned "Dream On," undoubtedly one of the most overplayed songs in the classic rock library today. (No, I don't hate the song; it just gets tiring on the 10,000th listen in the span of two weeks.) The way that the band - vocalist Tyler, guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer - builds the song from a gentle ballad to a powerful, yet melodic, refrain is what has helped to keep this song sounding fresh, even 25 years after it was recorded.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Granted, the overall sound of Aerosmith is rougher than the digitally-polished works we've grown accustomed to in this day and age. But I tend to think that a little bit of the sonic grit that is there helps to give the album an added texture and edge. It helps by adding that much more of a sneer to "Mama Kin," or provides the "walking down an alley" feel that makes up "One Way Street". Simply put: this is magic that you're listening to - and it is not the easiest thing to conjure up on an album.

It's almost as if Aerosmith knew they were launching something big at the start; "Make It," the album's opening track, declares, "Good evening, people. Welcome to the show." It has the same kind of power that Emerson, Lake & Palmer harnessed when they declared, "Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends." It may sound a bit corny, but when you hear Tyler and crew deliver the goods, you find yourself hanging on to - and believing - every word.

Of course, not everything works that well on Aerosmith - though I'll concede the one stumbling point I noted is a matter of personal taste. I have yet to hear a version of "Walkin' The Dog" that I even remotely liked - and I blame that on the New Mickey Mouse Club doing a falsetto version of this on an album I owned as a child. I hated that rendition, and I've never looked at the tune in the same light ever since. If you want me to get less personal about it, then let's say I find it strange that Aerosmith would resort to a cover after an album of strong originals. (Then again, they went back into cover land one album later with "Train Kept A-Rollin'".)

Aerosmith might only clock in at just under 36 minutes, but it represents a strong birth cry that has lost little of its power or volume through the passage of time. While it's easy to tell someone to grab onto one of the numerous live or "greatest hits" packages that Aerosmith has done over the years, Aerosmith is the natural place for someone who wants to really learn about this band to start with.

Rating: A-

User Rating: B+



© 2000 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 Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.