There’s a great story in Aerosmith folklore about this album – the band’s first compilation (and to say it was the first of many would be a major understatement). A coke-addled Joe Perry was walking around a supermarket in 1980, probably shopping for vodka and aspirin. A fan approached him with a record and asked for his autograph. He had left the band the previous year after an altercation over spilt milk – no really – but obliged the fan anyway. The only trouble was, he didn’t recognise the record – the band had released it without his knowledge.
Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits is a terrible record. It’s full of great songs – the very cream of their 1970s output – and on paper it looks like a great compilation. Walk This Way, Sweet Emotion, Dream On, Draw The Line, Back In The Saddle – what could go wrong? Well, somebody at CBS decided to use heavily edited versions of most of the singles – stripping away some very important moments.
You don’t need to be a hardcore Aerosmith fan to realise that one of the best parts of Sweet Emotion is its bass guitar and guitar talkbox intro. Here, you get the single version which opens smack bang in the first chorus. Disgraceful.
Same Old Song And Dance – again represented by the single version – interestingly uses a noticeably different vocal take, complete with an alternate lyric on one of the verses. Kings And Queens is also butchered, with the intro again falling on the cutting-room floor. It’s a strange strategy – CBS weren’t restricted by time, nor were they trying to cram as much material on the album as possible. The two sides run to a total of 37 minutes, so the excised portions could have been put back in without any loss of audio clarity. It’s just odd, as though somebody at CBS thought they’d lose potential buyers if the record-buying public found out any of the songs got 30 seconds in without a lyric being heard.
The hidden gem on the album is undoubtedly their studio version of Come Together. Recorded for the ill-fated Sgt. Pepper’s movie, and produced by George Martin, a version of the song had previously appeared on 1978’s Live! Bootleg. But to hear the studio version, you either had to buy the single or risk listening to the film’s soundtrack album.
I saw the band last April (for the fifth time) and they played Come Together. After twenty years of waiting, it was fantastic to finally see them play a Beatles song.
Hit: Walk This Way
Hidden Gem: Come Together