Archive for the 'Aerosmith' Category

17
May
19

Television “Marquee Moon”

When I started writing about my record collection back in 2006, I was determined to go from A to Z, so like, I was never going to get to Television—but with this new random system I have, it’s sure taking a long time to get to certain albums, anyway—but maybe that’s good. This one is kind of hard to write about, actually, because it’s maybe one of my favorite 10 (meaning 100) records of all time, and it’s kind of like a force of nature, so it’s a little like you’re photographing the Grand Canyon and expecting someone to pay attention to your snapshot when people have done time-lapse, panorama, satellite, helicopters, drones, parasails, jumping it on a motorcycle, and as they died falling in. So, if you’re reading this, and it’s the highly unlikely case where you’ve never heard this record, either you are going to have such high expectations that it will necessarily stumble, or you’ve hit the jackpot in life—you get to hear it for the first time, and you can only do that once. And then the second, third, etc…

It’s from 1977, I suppose the best year of punk rock, and it comes from the New York punk rock scene, but it sounds nothing like any of the other bands from that place or time, or really anywhere. There had to be a lot of people who hated this when it came out; I bet some were then won over, some weren’t, still aren’t. Bands were playing fast, short songs, for one thing, and these songs are long (longest is almost 10 minutes!) and there are extended guitar solos. It’s complex; it’s practically jazz. It’s weird to think this record came out the same year as Steely Dan’s Aja, but you can’t imagine them on the same plane, much less the same year—but the same people were buying them—and in a way, they are quite similar. Eight songs only, four per side, and one could make a strong argument that if you ranked the songs from best to worst they would line up in the exact order they are on the album—which might seem kind of dismal, except for the fact that they’re all great songs. I’ve definitely listened to side one more than side two—but the one nice thing about that is that I feel like I might still be able to discover something on the second side. The first side is so ingrained in my head nothing less than brain damage is ever going to allow me a fresh listen.

I’ve never paid much attention to the lyrics—though, and I’m not likely to at this point. That’s not true, there are a few lines that stick with me—it’s just that I couldn’t tell you what any of these songs are about. But I love the line: “Richie said: ‘Hey man, let’s dress up like cops…’” And a few others. I’m not going to talk about the guitars, okay? It just struck me that this could be the ideal record for a rainy Saturday afternoon, and if you wanted to spend a few excessive hours while giving it a few listens, use the internet and try reading all the ways people have used words to try to describe what those guitars are doing. I’m going to make this quick, though, by mentioning the cover photos—first there’s the kind of classic band photo, them all looking like they want to be the next one to make love—but it’s this high-contrast color that makes their hands look really crazy, kind of like one of those early Aerosmith records. I never bothered to look at the photo credits before, and it says Robert Mapplethorpe—I guess that guy knew his way around a camera.Then on the back there’s a photo of something that I’m guessing is abstracted by contrast—it’s credited to Billy Lobo. I think it’s supposed to represent the near death high you get, supposedly, from heroin, but I’m just guessing. Then, the inside sleeve band pic is very odd—it’s a great b&w photo, really, but printed weirdly, so the drummer and bass player have turned into shadows, while the inside of the drums are lit up. That the two guitarists are siting on kitchen chairs facing each other probably says more than bucket of liner notes could. And then, for as much as the photo is obscured in darkness, kind of amazingly you see all these details in hardware, chairs, amps, and shirts—really, it kind of simultaneously demystifies these guys as just regular schmoes, while elevating them to some kind of god love. Depending on who you are, you might focus more on Richard Lloyd’s guitar, or Tom Verlaine’s shirt, or everyone’s hands. I’m torn.

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15
Apr
08

Aerosmith “Draw The Line”

I guess this is Aerosmith’s 5th album, and when it came out in 1977 I had already decided that they sucked– I don’t remember why exactly, because I never DIDN’T like the two earlier records I had– though I never liked “Dream On” from their first record. I remember when “Rocks” came out, I just hated it– I don’t remember why– just because of the cover with the diamonds. Or did I actually hear it? Anyway, I don’t recall ever hearing any of this record, or ever being much aware of its existence. I think when I got into punk rock I just really cut a lot of stuff out of my world.

It starts out almost sounding like the Aerosmith I remember and liked so much. The second song, “I Wanna Know Why” is pretty good– it actually sounds a lot like something from the first solo David Johansen record from almost the same time. It goes on for too long, though, and has too many elements– and the record just goes downhill from there. Though the Joe Perry song is kind of weird; it really reminds me of that Klark Kent (Steward Copeland) song, “Don’t Care” which came out about the same time.

The first song on side two, “Kings and Queens” just totally reminds me of everything that went wrong with rock music in the 1970s and why we (punk rockers) rejected all of it. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry will be the first ones to tell you that they did too many drugs, but I don’t want to presume that drugs are the reason this sounds so bad. Maybe it was too much touring, or too much eating at Taco Bell. At any rate, most of this record is like an aural representation of constipation.

The cover, a pathetic caricature of the band by Al Hirschfeld is just really… sad. It pretty much says “end of the line.” They probably should have called this record “End Of The Line,” or R.I.P. But I love Aerosmith! I’m glad they didn’t OD and die, and I’m even glad they kept playing and recording. I just never want to see or hear this record again.




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