Aerosmith – Aerosmith
Producer: Adrian Barber
Released: January 13, 1973
Long before they evolved into “Aero-Supply”, a somewhat poppy, hit-making, ballad-machine, Aerosmith was a blues based, classic rock band. At one point, they were labeled America’s version of The Rolling Stones. Their depth exceeded their immediate influences. Sure, they were influenced by The Beatles, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and, yes, The Rolling Stones. The fact is, they were also heavily influenced by the same Chicago blues greats that influenced Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones.
In all fairness, this album was released nearly 40 years ago and the music industry was a completely different animal than it is now. Back then, labels invested in their artists over the course of several years and multiple albums, allowing bands to cultivate a sound that would, ideally, mature. Often times, a band would hit their stride somewhere around the third or fourth album which would ultimately be referred to as their signature sound. In 2010, the music industry is in shambles, labels are broke and artists are no longer given the freedom to explore their creativity. Maybe I am being a tad harsh, but a band like Aerosmith would never happen in today’s musical landscape. Labels don’t have money to invest and therefore need to mitigate the risk involved with new acts. They can ill afford to wait four years and three albums for an artist to find their audience and maybe release an album that charts.
Back in 1973, the as yet to be nick-named Boston Bad Boys released this, their self titled debut album. Fans of Aerosmith’s more popular work probably won’t recognize the band heard here. Dream On and (possibly) Mama Kin are the only tracks that the casual fan will know. The six remaining tracks find the band dwelling, perhaps too much, on their influences, having yet to truly define their own sound. Evidence of this is that with exception of Dream On, Steven Tyler‘s voice has an odd sound not heard on any other Aerosmith album. Sounding somewhat pinched, what it’s really lacking is the confidence displayed on future albums.
Regardless, this is a “must have” album if you are going to truly explore the band’s entire career. This is the launching pad that would eventually produce hits like Sweet Emotion, Walk This Way, Dude (Look’s Like A Lady) and Love In An Elevator. While those four songs might be considered the band’s calling card, there are some (unpolished) gems to be found here. The aforementioned Mama Kin is an amazing tune that is sandwiched between the album’s two best tracks, One Way Street and Write Me. On Write Me the listener will hear hints of where Tyler would eventually take his amazing vocal performances. Also worthy is an appropriate cover of Walkin’ The Dog.
As with many debut albums of the day, production is a tad lacking and the band sounds a bit thin. The cover is a bit trippy (for my taste) and the band’s legendary logo had yet to be created. These days, bands make the bulk of their money from touring. Albums (especially from older, “nostalgia” acts) aren’t given much, if any thought at all. Often times what you’ll find is that as a band prepares to go on tour, they’ll release yet another album that rehashes their greatest hits. Almost as if they are reminding the listener what they’ll hear if they buy a concert ticket. Years ago, when this album was released, bands made money selling albums and tours were a promotional tool used to encourage people to buy the new “product” at their local record store. Because of this, bands used to release a lot more albums as means of making money. It wasn’t uncommon for a band to release an album every year followed by the accompanying tour. The result with a band like Aerosmith is an impressive catalog (both in terms of output and quality) that fans are able to enjoy, explore and delve into. As the saying goes, this is where it all began. Buckle up, the ride has just begun and there’s plenty of good stuff on the way.