Tag Archives: Nine Lives

Rocks In The Attic #717: Desmond Child & Rouge – ‘Desmond Child & Rouge’ (1979)

RITA#717My quest to purchase every Aerosmith-related record continues with this, the 1979 debut album by Desmond Child and his vocal group, Rouge.

In 1987, Desmond Child was one of the first ‘song doctors’ employed by Aerosmith to co-write radio-friendly hits to re-energise their career. He co-wrote the Permanent Vacation singles Dude (Looks Like A Lady) and Angel – which hit #14 and #3 on the Billboard chart respectively – and the album opener Heart’s Done Time.

His success with Bon Jovi dwarfs his first run with Aerosmith – a year before Permanent Vacation he co-wrote You Give Love A Bad Name and Living On A Prayer, both hitting #1 for the New Jersey band. Aerosmith manager Tim Collins and Geffen A&R man John Kalodner knew what they were doing in seeking Child’s services.

Child Services?!?!?

Desmond Child would continue to work with Aerosmith throughout their tenure at Geffen. He contributed to What It Takes and F.I.N.E. from 1989’s Pump, Crazy and Flesh from 1993’s Get A Grip and finally Hole In My Soul from 1997’s Nine Lives.

He’s an integral figure in that late-‘80s hard rock scene, writing and producing the entirety of Alice Cooper’s 1989 album Trash, and working with the likes of Kiss, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Ratt, Steve Vai.

So what does this 1979 ‘solo’ record sound like? Well, you can definitely hear the genesis of a hit-making song-writer in there. It’s perhaps closest to Bon Jovi than any of his other associates. ‘Hit single’ (according to the hype sticker, but only if reaching #51 is your definition of a hit) Our Love Is Insane definitely has a killer bass line, and the playing (by studio musicians) is without fault throughout the record.

Child shares vocal duties with the three singers in Rouge – Myriam Valle, Maria Vidal, and Diana Grasselli – and they give the album a soulful, Chic / Sister Sledge feeling. This turns out to be the record’s downfall. It tries to be everything – soul, rock, pop, funk – and doesn’t pull strongly enough in either direction. Jack of all trades, master of none.

Hit: Our Love Is Insane

Hidden Gem: City In Heat

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Rocks In The Attic #404: Aerosmith – ‘Big Ones’ (1994)

RITA#404If not the worst record cover in my collection, this is definitely a candidate for worst compilation cover. It’s absolutely gross and looks like they paid an intern to design it in a really early copy of Microsoft Paint. It’s unforgiveable too – this is a band that had brought in millions and millions of album sales for Geffen Records over the prior seven years. The very least Geffen could do was to commission a proper artist. In fact, simple black font on a white background would have looked better. That font they used in the end is just a little too close to comic sans for my liking.

But what of the music? This was the first compilation of the Geffen-era Aerosmith. As such, it’s essentially hit single after hit single from their time in the glossy MTV era; all power-ballads and country-tinged rock. There are a couple of unreleased tracks – Walk On Water and Blind Man – along with Deuces Are Wild, a song from the soundtrack to The Beavis And Butt-Head Experience. Other than that though, the compilation is just a collection of their singles from Permanent Vacation right up to Get A Grip, their last studio album for Geffen. The singles from Done With Mirrors, the band’s first studio album for Geffen in 1985, are noticeably absent – probably due to space limitations and the fact that they hardly set the world on fire at the time.

Of the albums it does cover, the only singles it ignores are Hangman Jury ­– the first single from Permanent Vacation – and Shut Up And Dance, the sixth (sixth out of seven!) single from Get A Grip. Neither of these releases were supported by promotional videos, so therein lies the rub – this is just a collection of the songs from their hit MTV videos, a cynical way to sequence a compilation, if I’ve ever heard one. And unless I’m wrong, the video to Eat The Rich – included on this album – didn’t appear commercially until they released the video compilation of Big Ones.

On a side note, I recently saw the set list from the first time I saw Aerosmith, in 1993. Now either I’ve remembered things completely wrong, but the set list up on that website is incorrect. There’s no way on earth that they played so much ‘70s material at that show. Toys In The Attic, Back In The Saddle, Draw The Line, Last Child and Rats In The Cellar were NOT played that night.

One of my biggest gripes with the band – and believe me, there are many – was their seemingly steadfast refusal to play anything from the ‘70s (other than the ‘big three’ of Walk This Way, Dream On and Sweet Emotion) on the Get A Grip and Nine Lives tours, at least in Europe. It wasn’t until I saw them in the mid-2000s that I saw them play a decent amount of ‘70s material.

I was lucky enough to see the band play Mama Kin in Birmingham in 1997, but even that seemed like an afterthought because they had some time to spare at the end of their set (as they were preparing to leave the stage, I remember Joe Perry launching into the main riff, causing the rest of the band to run back to their instruments).

Hit: Love In An Elevator

Hidden Gem: Walk On Water

Rocks In The Attic #286: Aerosmith – ‘Just Push Play’ (2001)

RITA#286Nothing says how truly bad this album is more than the cover. There are no redeeming qualities I can find about it. If they handed out awards for the band that chose the worst image to put on the cover of an album, Aerosmith would have swept the boards in 2001.

I can stand up for Aerosmith all day, but I have trouble sticking up for this album. Even Joe Perry agrees:

I don’t think we’ve made a decent album in years. ‘Just Push Play’ is my least favourite. When we recorded it there was never a point where all five members were in the room at the same time and Aerosmith’s major strength is playing together. It was a learning experience for me: it showed me how not to make an Aerosmith record.

The one moment where the band sound anything like the Aerosmith of old, is dealt with quickly on opener Beyond Beautiful. That’s almost a kick-ass song, but even then it really only ranks along with the more mediocre moments of Nine Lives. Sadly Just Push Play then descends into sheer awfulness.

The embarrassing rap-rock of title track Just Push Play is followed by big single Jaded – which they still play live (as I witnessed in Dunedin earlier in the year). Big ballad Fly Away From Here shows again what sort of song the band regards as their bread and butter, and then all of a sudden they’ve lost me. This is really the first Aerosmith album they should have titled ‘Crushing Disappointment’. In fact, that title probably works better with their choice of cover image.

It’s also probably the first album since Get A Grip that I didn’t actively look forward to when it came out. I wasn’t listening to a lot of Aerosmith when it came out, so it sort of passed me by. I did buy the picture disc of Jaded when I saw that on vinyl, but probably after hearing that, I ignored the rest of the album.

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In fact, that release of Jaded has a fantastic art direction – with both the front and back cover images proving once again that sex sells. It’s amazing how they managed to have such a shocker with the art direction on Just Push Play and then they go and pull this pair of images out of the bag.

Due to its very limited print on vinyl, this was the last Aersomith I got my hands on. I’m glad I have it, as it completes my collection, but it’s never going to be a regular feature on the turntable.

Hit: Jaded

Hidden Gem: Beyond Beautiful

Rocks In The Attic #225: Aerosmith – ‘Nine Lives’ (1997)

RITA#225I had started listening to Aerosmith in 1993, when Get A Grip, the album before this was released; so by the time this came out in 1997, I had consumed everything Aerosmith had produced in their 24 years of material, and was very thirsty for anything new. Most importantly, I was now very much a critic.

I still see Nine Lives as a decent album. It’s definitely not in the same ballpark as Pump, and it’s only slightly more palatable than the hard Country that infects most of Get A Grip. It’s their last stab at making a decent album – and, although a patchy affair, is much better than Honkin’ On Bobo, Just Push Play and Music From Another Dimension!

This album came out in my first winter of university, in February 1997. I remember buying the CD single of Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees), and listening to it on my Discman as I walked around the cold, bitter streets of Huddersfield. I wanted so much for it to be better than it actually was. I had no right to criticise any of Aerosmith’s work before this – as I wasn’t a fan when those albums were originally released – but now I was a fully fledged fan, and I felt I deserved better.

When the album was released a month later, I was similarly disappointed. I’ve come to expect that feeling with Aerosmith when they release a new album. They may not make classic albums any more, but they’re very consistent with the hype (and subsequent lack of follow-through) they foster with every new release. Purveyors of disappointment, you might say.

Still, Nine Lives has its peaks and I was still itching to see the band play live again. On the Get A Grip tour in 1993, I had only managed to see the band once, when they played in Sheffield. This time, I was going to try and see them as much as my wallet could afford. With my friends Stotty and Bez, I got tickets to see them in Manchester, and then a couple of weeks later in Birmingham.

Manchester was great – seeing your favourite band play in your home town is always nice – but Birmingham was very special. We made a day of it, travelling down the motorway in the sunshine, and hanging out around the NEC for an hour or so before the show, checking out anything female dressed in an Aerosmith t-shirt.

The title song is a classic album opener, with a wall of guitar feedback swirling around horrible cat noises. They opened their live show with the song throughout the tour, and it was eye-opening to find out the cat noises were produced by nothing other than the vocal chords of Steven Tyler. It was also nice to see Brad Whitford take centre-stage with the guitar solo on the song.

The other thing I remember from that tour (aside from the inappropriately booked support band of Shed Seven, who we had great fun booing, stood only yards away from Rick Witter) was the fact that during the Birmingham show, England were playing Poland in a World Cup qualifier. A couple of times during their set, Steven Tyler gave an update of the score – “England – two! Poland – zero!” -which was as bizarre as it sounds. The score stayed that way too.

This vinyl copy is the reissued version, with their later #1 hit single I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing tacked onto the end (I hate that song – it really signalled the end of Aerosmith’s ability to release anything of any artistic merit); and the alternative cover (after the original cover of the album offended a bunch of Hindus).

All in all, Nine Lives is a mixed affair, with some really strong highlights, all rolled up into a combination of initial disappointment, and tempered with some very happy memories.

Hit: I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing

Hidden Gem: Falling Off

Rocks In The Attic #81: Aerosmith – ‘Honkin’ On Bobo’ (2004)

Rocks In The Attic #81: Aerosmith - ‘Honkin’ On Bobo’ (2004)Aerosmith really know how to disappoint. When I first heard about this record – that it was going to be a back-to basics Blues record, produced by their old-time 70s producer Jack Douglas – I was so excited. After almost twenty years of trying to rewrite their past, and becoming a shadow of their former selves, this idea seemed to make sense. They’ve realised that their Geffen output was sub-par! They’re going back to their Blues influences! And just to make sure it all works, they’ve got Jack Douglas back on board to produce the record! What could go wrong?

This album is so bad it’s offensive. Everything sounds so clean and polished, they end up sounding like the resident jazz band on the Starship Enterprise. Any indication that they were going back to their roots was then completely swept aside when they went out on tour to support the album. The accompanying tour DVD – You Gotta Move – shows them getting massages and travelling to shows separately in private jets.

If there is one good thing to come out of all this, it’s the fact that they started playing their older material on tour. During their Geffen days they pretty much only played Geffen material live. When I first saw them touring Get A Grip in 1993, and then twice touring Nine Lives in 1997, they pretty much only played their Geffen singles, plus a few album tracks from the respective album they were touring, rounded off with an encore of their three big Columbia singles – Dream On, Sweet Emotion and Walk This Way. Since they reacquainted themselves with their older material for Honkin’ On Bobo, they now tend to play roughly a 65/35 split – with their older stuff still taking the minority – but at least they’re playing a decent amount of 70s material and not acting as though it doesn’t exist.

Hit: Baby Please Don’t Go

Hidden Gem: The Grind