Get Your Wings was Aerosmith’s second album and it took the rawness of their self titled debut album and polished the edges. Gone are Steven Tyler’s faux vocals, in favour of his natural voice. While I didn’t dislike his style on Aerosmith’s debut, I certainly appreciate his lyrical style on Get Your Wings as it helped create the band’s unique sound.
Perhaps this sound can be somewhat attributed to the influence Jack Douglas brought to the band in his role as producer. Douglas would go on to produce Aerosmith throughout most of the 70s, only being removed by Columbia Records when it came time to record Night In The Ruts. The collaboration of Douglas and Aerosmith was nothing short of successful, despite sales in later years indicating different results. For a moment, let’s be honest, sales don’t depict quality. Yes, it provides success and the ability to go on to do greater things, but music needs to be seen as something more than a popularity contest. It’s about art, emotion, and it is subjective. I often reflect on jazz, especially live performances, and ponder if that style of music is the purity of subjectivity, emotion, and art. After all, much of it improvised and unless you’re an artist that can bridge traditional jazz with a mainstream audience, sales are going to be low while the quality of the creativity is high. That said, it is my belief that the producer should always be chosen by the artist, not the record label. Yes, the record label is funding the album, in the traditional sense, but there are many cases where artists, when forced to work with a certain producer, will release substandard work because the process is no longer organic, but contrived.
I have two editions of Get Your Wings. The first is the 1993 CD [cat no: CK 57361] that was remastered by Vic Anesini. The mastering is treated respectfully and as it was done prior to the ‘loudness wars’ the dynamic range is in the vicinity of 12 out of 20. TIDAL Hi-Fi offers the same mastered edition as the CD but whatever you do, don’t touch the 2012 remastering that is available on HD Tracks. Despite being released in Audiophile 96kHz/24bit, it has an average dynamic range of 09. Seriously, I’m all for audiophile releases, but low dynamic range isn’t fit for anyone, let alone an audiophile consumer. In this case the only benefit you get is a larger file size and an increased bitrate that does nothing to improve the sonic qualities of the album. There is little doubt that the 1993 remastered CD is the pinnacle for Get Your Wings when obtaining a digital copy.
The other edition I own is the RSD 13 (Record Store Day 2013) vinyl [cat no: KC 32847/ 88765486151] that was mastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound. The mastering on this record is amazing. While it is noticeably better than the 1993 CD it isn’t a radical shift. The vinyl pays homage to the ‘93 mastering while remaining true to the music that was available on the original tapes. While I much prefer the vinyl release due to its instrument separation and depth, especially in the low end, you would honestly be pleased with either release; just not the HD Tracks version. HD Tracks isn’t at fault, as they have been supplied with the terrible mastering, but the sale of such an inferior product does little to help the Hi-Res audio debate.
I should also note the vinyl release I have is a limited numbered release. I have number 4839 of (I believe) 5000. The remasters that were made specifically for the RSD release, are still available, they are just no longer numbered and come with a different sticker on the outer seal.
Same Old Song And Dance has a great beat and rhythm to it, but I have always felt that the drum track is lacking in this song. The kick drum just doesn’t sound right. I’m not sure how else to describe it, but I feel It lacks depth. It is almost like the skin tension was off on the drum thereby resulting in a sound that is slightly off key. Similarly, the cymbals sound a little squashed. I should note that these issues are heard across all the above mentioned formats, so it isn’t a factor of the remastering process.
As Lord Of The Thighs begins, the drum track is noticeably better and remains this way throughout the rest of the album. Lord Of The Thighs is an exceptional song that has a true blues influence throughout.
Spaced starts with low audible atmospheric sounds. I love it when rock and roll songs start this way. It sets the scene for a more mellow track, but there is so much complexity to the song that I never tire of it. The percussion elements are perfectly added for impact, not just because they are available. This musical self-control has been an Aerosmith trademark since their inception. It would be nice to see more artists follow this direction.
Woman Of The World starts with a lonely drum beat that reminds me of a drummer’s click track that ensures speed throughout the song remains constant. In a similar way, this beat ensures your toe tapping doesn’t miss a beat either.
S.O.S. (Too Bad) has nothing to do with save our souls, although that may have seemed appropriate for the band as they were always on the precipice of destruction. It in-fact stands for Same Old Shit and that is an adage that I’m sure we can all get behind. S.O.S. (Too Bad) is simply a fantastic bluesy rock and roll song that has a beautiful intermingling of bass and guitar with a drum beat that holds the song together.
Train Kept A Rollin’ is arguably the most successful song from the album. While it was released as a single, it did not chart at the time. However, The Yardbirds cover would become an Aerosmith staple as they often include this legendary song in their live set list. The song has been covered by a who’s who of the music industry, but I still declare that Aerosmith owns this song. They may not have written it, or performed it initially, but they mastered it. It has also appeared on most of their live album releases and an exceptional live performance, with Johnny Depp, was included on the DVD that accompanied the deluxe edition of Music From Another Dimension!
Seasons Of Wither begins with almost a minute of wind sounds in an attempt to set the seasonal stage. While it sets the scene, the song stands on its own with some absolutely gorgeous guitar work. I love songs where the subtle aspects of the guitar are present, but don’t overshadow the rest of the performance. This song proves that a great song can include elements from the entire band.
I would like to see Pandora’s Box re-tracked to appear before Seasons Of Wither. It isn’t a bad song; it just doesn’t flow well after the soothing Seasons Of Wither. The long held guitar riff and drum outro on Seasons Of Wither are a perfect end to the album. Although, I guess when tracking the album, the decision was made to close on a song that depicts the mainstream sound Aerosmith was aiming for. Pandora’s Box certainly is that song.
Get Your Wings is a must own for any fan of Aerosmith or 70s rock and roll. It is one of those albums that I listen to and just can’t believe that it was made before I was even born in ’79. It is exceptional and has stood the test of time. The two common remasters showcase the album with a faithful sound that will be appreciated for generations to come.
Now that I have the vinyl release, I think I will give the CD to my son so that he can get his wings!