Prior to Get Your Wings, Aerosmith released their self-titled debut that saw Steven Tyler approach the song line-up with a faux blues vocal style. This style is extremely subjective and while Tyler would return to his normal singing voice for the 1974 follow-up, Get Your Wings, I must say that I enjoyed his vocal style on the debut. In-fact, I have always liked Tyler’s vocals regardless of tonal shifts. Needless to say that this album remains a very unique element in Aerosmith’s history.
With hits such as Dream On, Mama Kin, and Make It, Aerosmith was destined for success, albeit moderate success for this debut album. That said, Dream On is arguably in everyone’s top 100 songs of all time list. Dream On is an Aerosmith staple like Janie’s Got A Gun, Love In An Elevator, and Livin’ On The Edge. It has been covered countless times and performed live by the band on almost every tour and live album. It is a power ballad to end all power ballads. Actually, it would also be one of the very first power ballads. When I look at rock and roll bands, I tend think of the power ballad as being an 80s phenomenon. That said, I’m reminded of Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven, Skynyrd's Free Bird, and Love Hurts by Nazareth. All exceptional bands with ballads recorded and released well before the 80s. Okay, it has to be said, they just don’t make music like that anymore.
The first time I heard Dream On was in the mid-90s when Aerosmith re-released Sweet Emotion as a single in 1994. The single of course featured Sweet Emotion and Dream On, along with Draw The Line and Walk This Way. You really couldn’t ask for a better collection of tracks to showcase Aerosmith in the 70s.
I currently have two copies of the self-titled Aerosmith album. One is the 1993 remastered CD by mastering engineer Vic Anesini, while the other is the Record Store Day 2013 vinyl remaster by mastering engineer Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound. Without a doubt, I prefer the 2013 remaster. While the ’93 mastering isn’t bad, it just sounds a little too robotic (digital) for my liking. Yes, I’m sure you’re reading this and saying, but Mark this was digitally remastered. While that is true, there is no reason that the soul, present on the original tape, can not be replicated adequately on the CD. I’ve heard many CDs that simply sound amazing, regardless of digital processing, so it is not a factor of the format. I have also played the TIDAL Hi-Fi edition, which is also the ’93 remaster, and it is understandably identical in dynamics to the aforementioned CD. I guess, in this case as in so many others, it comes down to subjective opinion and mine is that Aerosmith’s debut album is best heard on vinyl, followed by CD/TIDAL Hi-Fi. Whatever you do, don’t touch the HD Tracks version as it has an average dynamic range of 09, whereas the vinyl is 12 and the CD/TIDAL Hi-Fi version is 11 out of 20.
I should also note my vinyl edition of Aerosmith is numbered. I have is number 1978 of 5000. Oh, if only it would have been number 1973, I would have been in Aerosmith heaven. Although, given the impressive quality of the pressing, I think I’m already there as there isn’t a bad song on the album. While the numbered pressings are increasingly hard to come by, standard editions have been re-issued with the same exceptional sound.
Aerosmith were always destined to Make It, and this song is raw to the bone with enough guitar twang to last a lifetime. It isn’t my favourite song on the album, but it is certainly an excellent introduction of things to come.
Somebody continues the twang that reminds me of a country song with a rock influence. Maybe rockabilly is a more appropriate genre for this track. Either way, it is an enjoyable song and the first time we hear the Aerosmith trademark cowbell. While Aerosmith doesn’t overuse the cow bell in this song, or in their other songs that feature it, it matches their music style perfectly. It is like when Steven Tyler uses the harmonica. Pure brilliance!
Dream On. It doesn’t get any better than this, yet it didn’t chart well upon the initial release. Despite that, it is perhaps one of the best rock ballads ever written and has been covered and sampled extensively. Speaking of interpretations, you have to check out the incredible performance Aerosmith (Tyler and Perry only) did with the Southern California Children’s Chorus that was performed as part of the Boston Marathon Bombing Tribute. It is an incredibly haunting semi-acoustic edition of the song. You can also listen to this edition of the song on TIDAL Hi-Fi, or watch the performance below.
One Way Street introduces that trademark harmonica. Simply awesome! The song has a great foot tapping beat and Tyler’s faux vocals crack like an adolescent schoolboy. It certainly has some very special elements that make it enjoyable to listen to.
Mama Kin kicks the album up a notch with a killer guitar riff. It is blues rock and roll at its best. I’ve always enjoyed this song and have felt the urge to sing-a-long and play my famous air guitar. The temporary pauses throughout the song are perfectly placed and add to the overall pace of the song, without slowing it down.
Write Me is a solid rock and roll song. Nothing to write home about, but as with all the songs on this album, they complement each other perfectly.
Movin’ Out starts off with yet another Perry classic guitar riff that sets the tone for the song. It is one of my favourite tracks on the album with a chorus that belongs in rock and roll heaven. That said, you can tell the band is still finding their sound on this track. I’d love to have them re-record this song to see what they could do with it, given their lifetime of knowledge. It reminds me somewhat of a demo tape release, but an exceptional one!
Walkin’ The Dog is an awesome bluesy rock and roll tune. The introduction may confuse you a little with the use of the Wood Flute, but stick with the song as I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. The song ends the album like all good final tracks should, with me wanting to put the record on again.
Aerosmith’s debut album is a must own for any Aerosmith fan, but if you’re interested in blues inspired rock and roll, from the late 60s and early to mid-70s period, then you are going to love this album.