Of all of the Aerosmith albums that I initially bought when I got turned onto them, this one represented the ‘way in’ to their back catalogue. Other than 1980’s Greatest Hits and 1991’s Pandora’s Box, there wasn’t really any other comprehensive Aerosmith compilations available in the early 90s when I started to listen to them. Now it’s gone the other way and I believe that when I last counted, their (officially released) compilations and live albums were just about to overtake their count of studio albums. That’s a pretty bad statistic, but proof that record companies will plunder and plunder an artist’s back catalogue, endlessly re-releasing the same songs over and over again, as long as there’s a willing public to buy them.
In terms of chronology, this 1978 release comes between 1977’s Draw The Line and 1979’s Night In The Ruts – in their only fallow year (up to this point they had released a studio album every year since their 1973 debut). If Draw The Line didn’t signal the end of the band due to their over-reliance on drugs, this surely did.
Aside from the hits (Walk This Way, Sweet Emotion, Dream On, Back In The Saddle), the set covers a heap of decent album tracks which wouldn’t see the light on Greatest Hits and in most cases would have to wait until Pandora’s Box to get the attention they deserved.
But the real treasures of the album are those live tracks not recorded in stadiums and arenas like the majority of the material. There’s Last Child, recorded in a Boston Club; a stunning cover of Come Together, recorded at the band’s rehearsal space; and in I Ain’t Got You and Mother Popcorn, two covers showcasing the band’s R&B influences, recorded for a radio performance in 1973 when promoting their first album. I have that 1973 Paul’s Mall performance in its entirety on CD – a fantastic set – and a true live bootleg album, unlike this one which is CBS Records’ attempt to capitalise on the trend of professional-sounding bootleg albums in the late 70s.
There’s just one more reason I love this album: the photos on the gatefold showing Joe Perry playing his red BC Rich Bich – truly awesome, and in terms of body-shape, the best looking guitar I’ve ever seen.
Hit: Walk This Way
Hidden Gem: Mother Popcorn