Tag Archives: When The Lightning Strikes

Rocks In The Attic #327: Aerosmith – ‘When The Lightning Strikes’ (1988)

RITA#327This is a nice little bootleg recording of the band on the Permanent Vacation tour, from February 6th 1988 and recorded at California’s Long Beach Arena (the first of two concerts there). The sound isn’t fantastic – it’s a little muddy – and the closeness of some of the voices in the audience – “Yeah! Wooh! Yeah!” – leads me to believe it’s not a sound-desk recording (a woman starts screaming in the middle of Dream On and it sounds like she’s either being raped, or she really, really dislikes early Aerosmith ballads). If it is an ambient recording though, I guess it’s not too bad. But if it is a sound-desk recording, it sounds like it has suffered from being copied a few times prior to being put down on vinyl.

The band are firing on all cylinders here. You can tell they’re enjoying their revival – and the energy coming off the stage is akin to that of a much younger band. The crowd seems to get more amped up when they start playing their contemporary hits – Dude (Looks Like A Lady) gets a massive cheer four songs into the set, which is worrying and explains how the hit singles were received at the time.

This recording is right in the middle of Steven Tyler’s sex addiction years – which would come (no pun intended) to a head (again, no pun intended) on the lyrics to Pump one year later. It’s definitely not a family show, as Tyler leads the audience into an impromptu sing-along of the wholesome phrase “I want to party on your pussy, baby!”

There are some nice additions to the set-list here; songs that don’t really see the light any more, pushed out of their ‘90s setlists by a wave of late Geffen-era power ballads. Live recordings of Bone To Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy) and When The Lightning Strikes are great to hear, as is Big Ten Inch Record (even though the band had already released a live recording of that on the Pandora’s Box set). Bone To Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy) is even listed incorrectly as Come Back on the tracklisting, suggesting that the album was not put together by fans. The fantastic One Way Street from the first albumgets an outing and isn’t even mentioned.

One of the greatest things I’ve seen when attending Aerosmith shows has been watching Joe Perry play slide guitar on Rag Doll, sat on a chair on stage, with his guitar lying across his knees. I think of the five time I’ve seen them, they’ve only played the song twice, so it’s always a rare occurrence. Rag Doll is one of the better singles from Permanent Vacation – and it’s joined here by other great tracks from that album – Hangman Jury, Permanent Vacation, and their cover of The Beatles’ I’m Down. Unfortunately, it’s also joined by Angel – arguably the worst song Aerosmith ever recorded. I say ‘arguably’ as some of their later musical crimes are in the same league. For me though, Angel will sadly always represent the beginning of the end.

Hit: Walk This Way

Hidden Gem: Hangman Jury