It was 1994, the Grammys were playing on television, and Aerosmith came out on stage and performed Livin’ On The Edge. In my mind it was a faultless performance and while I know that I re-experience it on YouTube, I don’t want to. Something as powerful as this first exposure, that would result in a life-long love of Aerosmith’s music, should be left to my interpreted memory and not toyed with.
Memories of this performance, and the album Get A Grip, came flooding back last night as my son decided that he wanted to go through my CD collection and find an album to listen to. I said nothing, didn’t encourage him either way, and he selected Aerosmith’s Get A Grip. It was a proud moment as I had given him their latest CD, Music From Another Dimension, and while he likes that album, he doesn’t play it often. I honestly wasn’t sure that he would ever become a true Aerosmith fan, but last night he declared that he loves Aerosmith and the Get A Grip album.
As a music loving father, I ensure my library of music is always accessible. I don’t believe in taboos and while this album isn’t overly explicit, it’s Aerosmith. Everything is an innuendo. I also believe in artistic license and therefore I have never purchased a ‘clean’ version of any album. I know many people are opposed to profanity, but I strongly believe music is art, hence a ‘clean’ version is akin to an abridgment of the artist’s original vision. I also feel that it is better to have questionable subjects raised at home, rather than in the controversial and erroneous school yard. It was this flexibility that I was never offered as a child. While my son, aged 8, doesn’t yet understand much of the terminology, I want him to know that through our shared love of music, he can come to me and discuss song meanings as he begins to understand more adult-based themes.
For the moment, he is content to play his air guitar when listening to Livin’ On The Edge and laugh addictively when Eat The Rich concludes and the burp is heard at the very beginning of the following track, Get A Grip. I’ve no doubt they programmed the CD to play the burp at the beginning of the Get A Grip, rather than at the end of Eat The Rich, to ensure we would all keep hitting the back button. My son thought it was hilarious, each time it played, and this morning I played it really LOUD on my main system. The house rumbled to, I assume, Steven Tyler’s guttural belch. While I haven’t taught my son to burp the alphabet, this was a priceless father-son moment. Thank you Aerosmith!
My son also loves the introduction to Crazy when Tyler speaks the words ‘come here baby’. Yep, he’s going to grow up to be a heartbreaking ladies man!
Perhaps I should have called this blog Subjective Digression, as I have a tendency to go off track, but I find the story behind the music, specifically why I own it and how it has impacted my life, is much more intriguing than a track by track evaluation of an album and how it fits into the artist’s catalogue.
Hence, following the Grammys performance, I had to own the album. I ended up purchasing the cassette, most likely due to a lower price point than the CD at the time. Also, cassette tapes were still my main format through the 90s as my only CD player was in the stationary boom box at home. I did get a Discman towards the late 90s, but cassettes didn’t skip like the CD counterpart. At least that was the case until shock protection was introduced.
Interestingly, during that period, I would purchase both the CD and cassette of an album so that I could have the cassette for the road, and the CD for home. I didn’t do that with Get A Grip, but I did with Aerosmith’s compilation album Big Ones. I do something similar now as I often purchase the CD and vinyl editions of my favourite albums. Yes, I could have made my own tapes from the CD, and I did, but I have always believed in supporting the musicians as I want them to continue making new music.
Yes, this is a blissfully naive viewpoint, but someone has to buy the artists their vices so their creativity can run free.
As pleased as I am with the mastering of the Get A Grip CD, sonically I recall the cassette was just more musical. One other aspect of the cassette that I always enjoyed was the changes to the album artwork. Sometimes it was done well, other times it was a horror story. In this case, Get A Grip looked really nice in the smaller cassette format and you didn’t feel like you were missing out, or getting a second rate product.
Going back to the sonics for a moment, I have found the Get A Grip CD to be too clinical for my personal tastes. The clarity is incredible, but I look for fullness of sound. I want to hear fat riffs and drum beats and the CD just sounds a little thin. I’m not trying to suggest that the cassette was higher quality, or that analogue is better. It is subjective, and I just find subjectively that the analogue sound is more appealing to me for a lot of, but not all, music. I just wish Aerosmith would re-issue the album on vinyl, but I want it done properly. The artificial cowhide fur and all.
Get A Grip is a powerhouse recording that doesn’t have a b-side. It is fun and has a groove that is reminiscent of the classic 70s Aerosmith, while also being unique to their 90s sound. I love the bluesy feel throughout, especially on Gotta Love It.
Get A Grip is still available on CD, and via TIDAL Hi-Fi. TIDAL claims to have the remastered edition, yet all linear notes are void as to any difference between that version and my 1993 mastered CD. A cursory listening comparison also didn’t yield any massive tonal differences that would justify TIDAL’s claim. For those of you interested in high-resolution audio, HD Tracks does have an audiophile 96kHz/24bit version of the album. I have not heard this edition, so I can’t comment on it’s mastering and no additional information is available regarding the source used or the mastering engineer. A Mastered for iTunes edition is also available, but if keeping with the Apple ecosystem, I would avoid the Apple Music edition as Livin’ On The Edge is a live version of the song, not the studio version that should be on the album.
Anyway, isn’t it about time someone told me to just Shut Up And Dance?