By James Baase
Whether it’s been the surgeries, injuries, rumors of drug addiction, rehab again, threats to replace the singer, hurt feelings, book deals, a video game or a talent contest, it has taken over six years for America’s Rock Band to fulfill their endless promises of producing a new album. Well, it’s finally here. Music From Another Dimension is Aerosmith’s long-awaited 15th studio album and the first with new material since 2001.
After being pleasantly shocked and surprised by Van Halen’s stellar comeback earlier this year, I had high hopes for this “best-selling American rock band of all time”. From the opening smacking drums of Joey Kramer and subsequent guitar riff to the familiar moaning, “Hellooo” of Steven Tyler in the first track, “Love XXX”, I thought to myself, “So far, so good.” I could handle the R&B-tinged rock-n-roller “Oh Yeah” with its female backing vocals and even the funky “Beautiful”, which begins to grow on you with repeated listening. Then apprehension began to grow as Tyler started singing over an acoustic guitar in “Tell Me”. This song tries hard but seems to fall flat as it just doesn’t have what it takes.
Fortunately, I was brought back a little to the Aerosmith days of old with “Tell Me” and “Street Jesus”. Being reminded of Rocks & Toys in the Attic was a treat. Even the single “Legendary Child” passes the test, albeit a little over-produced—but that’s OK. What isn’t Ok is what remains on this CD.
I know Aerosmith had huge success with that, “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” ballad, but it seems desperate to throw a handful of power ballads at us like shrapnel, hoping something would stick. I could tolerate the second of the three singles released, “What Could Have Been Love”…if it was being sung by Michael Bolton on one of his albums. The others are no “Angel” and don’t deserve mention.
The duet with Carrie Underwood only rubs salt in the wounds by reminding us all of the American Idol thing.
The other single “Lover Alot” is just plain repetitive. However, the two Joe Perry songs, “Freedom Fighter” & “Something” remind me of classic Aerosmith and are decent songs, but I suspect they are victims of in-band politics to appease Joe Perry. They would have served this album much better being sung by Tyler instead of Perry.
This latest offering by Aerosmith has taught me something I guess I already knew, but usually choose to ignore. Rock bands never stay the same. As much as we love the original music that drew us to them, they are artists, and especially after 42 years, artists will evolve or die. Considering Aerosmith’s history, we are very fortunate that the latter did not happen. I really shouldn’t fault them for putting together a disjointed collection of music. It does touch on every aspect of their incredible career. Even though the pieces don’t fit, there’s something for everyone now. With the current condition of the music industry you can’t sell album rock anymore.
Ultimately, Music From Another Dimension fits wells into this pick-and-choose iTunes world. Although Aerosmith has morphed into a pop rock band, I choose to be grateful for the handful of tracks from this CD that will remain on my iPod. After all, I do still have my Rocks and Toys…
01. LUV XXX
02. Oh Yeah
04. Tell Me
05. Out Go The Lights
06. Legendary Child
07. What Could Have Been Love
08. Street Jesus
09. Can’t Stop Lovin’ You
10. Lover Alot
11. We All Fall Down
12. Freedom Fighter
15. Another Last Goodbye