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Original: October 10, 2006
How many greatest hits packages does any one band need? Well, if your name is Aerosmith then the answer to this question would be a whole whack load. Let me see. In 1980 they released Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits, not the most imaginative of titles but what the hell. 1988 saw the release of Gems, a collection of deeper cuts like Rats In The Cellar, No Surprize, Adam’s Apple and their ever welcome take on the old Yardbirds warhorse Train Kept A Rollin’. Then came the first of the Geffen era GH packages called Big Ones, released in 1994. 2001 saw Young Lust: The Aerosmith Anthology, another Geffen package which, this time, pulled together a few rarities like Love Me Two Times, Head First and the orchestral version of Amazing.
Next up came the career spanning O, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits the result of Columbia and Geffen cutting through the legal red tape which comes with the division of royalties when you are talking about two competing companies trying to collaborate.
Throw in the re mastered and expanded Aerosmith – Greatest Hits 1973-88 in 1997 and I believe that brings the total up to six. Throw in any number of packages released in other countries and the number becomes even scarier. And, if you are the type to lump live albums in with Greatest Hits packages, you can tack another five onto the total.
So why another greatest hits package? Well… money, I suppose.
Don’t get me wrong, Aerosmith have been through a hell of a lot of shit this past year. First off, the band were forced to cancel the remainder of their Rockin’ the Joint tour due to vocal problems that Steven Tyler was having; A trend which, sadly, had been becoming more and more the norm over the past number of tours.
Tyler had to go in for laser surgery on his throat, which necessitated him resting his voice for six weeks, a Herculean task for someone as talkative as he is I’m sure.
This would not have been the best of news at the best of times but, since the band were planning on working on a new album following the RTJ tour the timing just could not have been worse. Next up, original bass player Tom Hamilton was diagnosed with throat cancer. The ensuing treatment has left him unable to tour with the band when they hit the road again for their co-headlining Route Of All Evil tour with Motley Crüe this past fall.
So any plans to release a new album this year were pretty much DOA; shot down before they could really get started. But why release yet another greatest hits package instead? As I mentioned above, for the money, I suppose. I was going to go into another little bit here about the merits of each individual song included herein. But then I thought “Why?” Each and every song on this disc, save two, are available elsewhere, most notably on the real career spanning O, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits set.
Those two exceptions are a couple of new songs: Sedona Sunrise and the titular Devil’s Got A New Disguise. Songs, I might add, which were originally slated to appear on the new album.
You see, the “new” album was to be made up primarily of reworked studio out takes, a practice not unheard of in the wonderful world of rock and roll. Sedona Sunrise was originally a song demo’d for their album Pump from 1989 while Devil’s Got A New Disguise was originally recorded for 1994’s Get a Grip.
Both songs have been reworked from their original demo versions for release here.
Sedona is a song, not unlike their classic What It Takes and could very well have been a cross over hit on the new country stations with the right kind of promotion. Sadly, the studio seems to have missed that boat. But then again, what else is new for Aerosmith.
Devil’s has the feel of a Love In An Elevator / Eat The Rich hybrid; an up-tempo rocker with hooks you could rip your flesh on and a number of double entendres that Tyler has become famous for over the years (“If you see Kay, tell her I love her”).
Neither of these songs are instantly great, but then again, how many songs truly are. I guess only time will tell if they become long standing staples in Aerosmith’s set list a la Sweet Emotion and Walk This Way, or if they become relegated to the status of also rans. My gut tells me it will probably be the later.
Aerosmith are one of my favorite bands. Their musical cannon, while comparatively sparse for a band that has been around for as many years as they have is none the less strong (especially their first five albums). To get a true sense of who they are you need to see them live and see them in their natural habitat.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I give this recommendation.
If you are a long time fan this album is pretty much a non starter. Unless you are a completest (like I am) the two new songs may not be worth the investment. Rumours are running wild right now that these songs may well be included on the new album when it comes out, which will make this disc doubly redundant.
Even if you are new to Aerosmith there are far better discs to purchase. If you are only interested in one greatest hits package then go for O, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits. It contains a fine sampling of their early Columbia days, their “comeback” days spent with Geffen and their later day Sony output.
But if you really want to get to know these bad boys from Boston, then why don’t you just go out and buy each of their solo albums. I’d recommend starting with Toys in the Attic and Rocks from the early days, Permanent Vacation and Pump from their Geffen cannon and Nine Lives and Honkin’ On Bobo from their Sony period.
In the end, I suppose it might make a good stocking stuffer. The music is all worthy; it’s just been done any number of times before and in better configurations.
Disc One: Dream On / Mama Kin / Sweet Emotion / Back In The Saddle / Last Child / Walk This Way (Run DMC version) / Dude (Looks Like A Lady) / Rag Doll / Love In An Elevator / Janie’s Got A Gun / What It Takes / Crazy / Livin’ On The Edge / Cryin’ / I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing / Jaded / Sedona Sunrise / Devil’s Got A New Disguise