10 to try: Aerosmith playlist

Fourteen studio albums, five live albums and nine greatest hits collections. Where’s an Aerosmith novice to start?

The Knowledge
1973

In the early ’70s, the good ship Aerosmith set sail on a sea of heavy rock. Their intention? ‘To sound like Cream, the Yardbirds and Led Zepplin,’ according to their bass player Tom Hamilton. Debut single ‘Dream On’, with its nodding-dog melotrons, sounds like a band fairly obsessed with late-’60s British rock. Similarly, ‘Walkin the Dog’ (also from the album Aerosmith) begins in a typically Zepplin vein before adding a tightness to the classic Rolling Stones sound. The Jagger/Tyler comparisons start here…

Stick it on the playlist
The band played both songs at most shows on their recent US tour, making them a likely pair for Abu Dhabi.

1974

Continuous touring was obviously taking a positive toll on Tyler’s voice. Gone is the stylised, restrained vocal of the first album, in its place the lascivious growl we’ve come to know and love. The best track from Get Your Wings is ‘Train Kept a Rollin’, another varispeed rocker in the Zepp tradition. In fact, Jimmy Page called them ‘the ideal rock’n’roll band’. Recommendations don’t come much higher.

Stick it on the playlist
Thirteen performances in 13 shows during the summer tour. It’s a sure thing.

1975

Two years into their recording career and the band hit paydirt; Toys In the Attic has now reached eight million certified sales in the US alone. Best known is perhaps ‘Walk This Way’, which they successfully resurrected with Run DMC in 1986, but ‘Sweet Emotion’ – which begins with one of the most distinctive basslines in rock’n’roll history – would have your elderly grandmother risking her new hip for a boogie.

Stick it on the playlist
From Toys in the Attic? Take your pick. They’ve been known to play the album in its entirety during a single show.

1976

While Toys in the Attic appears to be the band’s favourite album, fans are divided. Rocks, the 1976 follow-up, is often seen as Aerosmith at their most essential. ‘Combination’ puts Joe Perry right up there with the world’s greatest riff masters, as gritty and sleazy as anything Keef ever managed.

Stick it on the playlist
‘Combination’ is a definite. Just make sure you’ve packed your air guitar.

1977

As the rest of the world turned punk, Aerosmith loaded their Ferraris with pharmaceuticals and weapons and checked into a New York convent to record their fifth album, Draw the Line. If they seemed to have lost touch with normality, their sense of creativity remained surprisingly intact. Title track ‘Draw the Line’ could kickstart a riot in a rest home.

Stick it on the playlist
Not guaranteed, but their setlists seem incomplete without it.

1989

Aerosmith checked out for most of the ’80s, with various members collapsing onstage (Tyler), leaving the band (Perry and Whitford), crashing motorcycles (Tyler again) and releasing flop albums (that went gold anyway). 1987’s Permanent Vacation, spawned a slew of hits, but it was Pump (1989) that cemented their return, not least the lead single, ‘Love in an Elevator’.

Stick it on the playlist
Aerosmith’s wordsmith has a one-track mind, and ‘Elevator’ may need some censorship…

1993

Aerosmith reached their zenith 16 years ago with the album Get a Grip. With 20 million worldwide sales and four Top-40 singles, it’s unlikely they’ll reach these heights again. ‘Cryin’ is undoubtedly one of their better-known power ballads, the usual blubbing emotion tempered somewhat by Perry’s bluesy backbiting. ‘Living On the Edge’ is as cliché-ridden as anything Spinal Tap ever pressed to vinyl, but it seems popular with fans and band alike. We still dig the video’s railroad antics, though. That Joe Perry is a cool customer.

Stick it on the playlist
The alternative power-ballad option would be ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing’, which only got two plays on their recent tour. Stick with these two and you’ll go far.

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