As a dedicated Aerosmith fan, I feel a little embarrassed to admit that Toys In The Attic was not in my own collection until last week. I had previously purchased a few tracks, from the album on iTunes, and I did have many of the songs on various live and greatest hits releases. Anyway, we don’t need to dwell on what I didn’t have in my collection. I’m sure it is void of many other classic albums that I should own.
Originally when I ordered the vinyl edition of Toys In The Attic, I was hoping to get a copy of the 2013 Record Store Day (RSD) edition as they were individually numbered and matched my other Aerosmith records. Unfortunately, I left it too late and none of my suppliers had the RSD numbered editions left. While that was disappointing, it wasn’t the end of the world. 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. All other artwork, including the record label, is identical. I can live with that; it is the music I wanted after all.
Speaking of the music, Toys In The Attic is nothing short of epic. There isn’t a bad song on the album and while Walk This Way and Sweet Emotion have been played to hell and back, I never tire of those songs. They are akin to Queen’s We Will Rock You. They are simply timeless classics that will forever be part of music history.
The first time I heard Walk This Way and Sweet Emotion was in the mid-90s when Aerosmith re-released Sweet Emotion as a single in 1994. The single featured Sweet Emotion, Draw The Line, Walk This Way, and Dream On. If I wasn’t previously hooked on Aerosmith from their Get A Grip album, I certainly was after this four-track release. I even purchased the equivalent cassette single so that I could have those songs when on the move.
Returning to Toys In The Attic, the double entendre Big Ten Inch Record is just a fun bluesy song. It isn’t an Aerosmith original as Bull Moose Jackson wrote and recorded the original. The original is a fantastic recording, but let’s just say that this song is perfectly suited to Aerosmith and Tyler’s innuendo filled mind.
Another classic song I would love Aerosmith to cover is Dave Bartholomew’s My Ding-a-Ling. The original is great, but I tend to enjoy Chuck Berry’s live performance of the song a little more. Either way, can you imagine Aerosmith not only recording this song, but playing it live. Now that would be show not to miss!
I particularly enjoy the final track, You See Me Crying. Aerosmith has always, in my mind, been the masters of the rock and roll ballad. Although, I could likely say that about many bands, I find Tyler’s vocal pitch to be perfectly suited to ballad-styled rock and roll music. Plus, when you add Orchestral tones to a rock song, you have me hooked.
Sonically Toys In The Attic is superb. It is mastered well originally, but the 2013 mastering for vinyl, done by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, is exceptional. It is the best mastering I have ever heard of Walk This Way and Sweet Emotion. It is important to note that this latest mastering was done under the supervision of Steve Berkowitz and the original album producer, Jack Douglas.
As usual, not all editions of the album are worthy. The TIDAL Hi-Fi edition is from the 20-bit 1993 remastering sessions. It isn’t bad, but it still doesn’t compare to the latest master. In-fact, all 2013 vinyl remasters are an improvement over the 1993 20-bit remastered Aerosmith albums I have in my collection. That said, I’m not getting rid of those CD’s anytime soon.
The Apple Music/iTunes edition is a specific Mastered for iTunes release from 2012. There is no information available on the mastering for this release, but after a cursory listen, I subjectively didn’t like the sound. It was too muffled and didn’t present a good sound stage, in comparison to the before mentioned masters.
For those of you who are into the high-resolution digital, Toys In The Attic has also been released on a now out of print SACD. It is currently available on HDTracks in both audiophile-grade 96kHz/24bit & DSD 2.8MHz editions. Interestingly, HDTracks claim their editions are from the 2013 remasters Ryan Smith did at Sterling Sound. While I would love to take their word for it, I can’t help but wonder if the information is accurate as the Dynamic Range Database lists both HDTracks’ editions as having 08 and 09 dynamic range scores, versus the vinyl which has an average of 12. Even the 20-bit 1993 remastered CD comes in at 10. If anyone has any information to clarify which version is really being used, I would love to hear from you.
I should add that the 2013 remasterings are so good, that these should be the new benchmark for all future Aerosmith releases in both physical and digital formats.
Anyway, all I can say is go and get yourself a copy of this classic album. You can thank me later!
Now, if you will excuse me, it’s about time I got back to my Big Twelve Inch Record…and to think Tyler thought he had a big record!