After a lacklustre start to the decade, Eric Clapton really picked up the pace on this and its follow-up, Journeyman. Both covers feature photography by the recently departed Terry O’Neill, depicting a stylish, more mature Clapton. This maturity can also be heard in the songwriting, which finds a plaintive Clapton in a new spot, looking back at his life. The instrumentation is also similar across the two records, utilising the same band of Michael Jackson sideman Greg Phillinganes on keyboards, Nathan East on bass and Phil Collins on drums.
The album kicks off with It’s In The Way That You Use It, featured in The Color Of Money, the 1986 sequel to The Hustler, starring Tom Cruise and Paul Newman. But as commercial as that song is, there’s far stronger material to be found throughout the album.
My favourite track though is Miss You – a slow burning electric blues, with a soaring lead guitar from Clapton. It’s a fantastic taster of the kind of material and production that makes Journeyman such a joy to listen to. August is a great start, but Journeyman is clearly the better album.
Seeing as this is the 50th entry in this particular blog, I thought I’d cover an album I really, really love – and one that lends its name to (half of) the blog’s title. Looking back, I regret not doing something similar for the silver posting at #25, which was taken by Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down. Oh dear – perhaps subconsciously I like Lionel Richie solo albums more than I give myself credit for.
Rocks is Aerosmith’s fourth studio album and the creative peak of their classic 70s period. This is the album that was heard by a young Slash and turned him onto rock music, essentially giving birth to Guns ‘N Roses. Of this album, and its predecessor Toys In The Attic, I probably prefer the earlier album as it has a little more light on it. That’s not to say Rocks is a dark album – it’s just darker than Toys… and is very no-nonsense.
Credit also has to be given to the producer, Jack Douglas – now practically a sixth member of the band. The production specifically on the opening track Back In The Saddle is fantastic, building up to a release with sound effects perfectly complimenting the lyrics to conjure up a dusty saloon in the old west.
It’s all the rage these days for bands to play their classic albums in their entirety. I guess this maybe started with Pink Floyd playing Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety on their Pulse tour. I read somewhere that back in 2009, Aerosmith played Rocks from start to finish as the centrepiece of their live show – after giving Toys… the same treatment went down well with the fans. Now normally I’d love to see the band play either of these albums in full, but I’m not really sure I want the 21st century version of Aerosmith spoiling my love of these two great albums.
I used to love Blondie, but seeing them live at Glastonbury in 1999 really turned me off them, and it took me a very long time to start appreciating them again. I have an almost religious love for the Toys… and Rocks albums and I wouldn’t want that to be destroyed. Sometimes nostalgia should be left in its box.