Review Summary: What do you get when you take a five-piece band of rock n' roll superstars, replace the guitarists with guys who fit with the band like peanut butter and fish, put the lead singer on drugs and then drown the other members in alcohol?
Aerosmith rose to fame in the 1970's with albums such as Toys in the Attic
(1975) and Rocks
(1976), propelling the band to become known as one of the greatest rock n' roll bands of all time. Then all of a sudden, lead guitarist Joe Perry left the band while they were still in the process of making Night in the Ruts
(1979). Rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford followed suit in 1981. Aerosmith gaily welcomed Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay as Joe and Brad's successors - huge mistake.
Rock in a Hard Place
(1982) is probably Aerosmith's worst record to date. True, there are a couple of songs I like off this album: "Lightning Strikes", "Bitch's Brew", and "Joanie's Butterfly". So, why am I giving this album a 1 instead of a 1.5 or a 2? Because of how Rock in a Hard Place
compares to Aerosmith's other albums. Aerosmith were rock n' roll gods in their early years - from their self-titled 1973 debut all the way until Draw the Line
(1977), Aerosmith produced innovative, intelligent, and pure music. Even with the less impressive Night in the Ruts
, Aerosmith still showed they cared about their music. Rock in a Hard Place failed to show a single sign the band cared at all. The whole album rolls up into one giant lyrical disaster - even the album's lone hit single, "Lightning Strikes", had lyrical problems. Itchy fingers? Kitchens? What the hell?
Here's a little track-by-track bio.
1.) "Jailbait" - 4:38
One of my least favorite songs by the band. Not only is it endlessly repetitive, bland, and just plain annoying, it is also WAY too long. 2/5
2.) "Lightning Strikes" - 4:26
Probably my favorite song off the album, being a strong, catchy song musically. Still, there are a couple lyrical issues. 4/5
3.) "Bitch's Brew" - 4:13
Another song which is better than the rest of the album. Still, it does have a bit of a bland opening section, and it's not quite as catchy as "Lightning Strikes". 3/5
4.) "Bolivian Ragamuffin" - 3:32
Downhill again from here with a truly appalling song. For god's sake, just look at the TITLE! That alone should sufficiently tell you that it's not their best work. 1/5
5.) "Cry Me a River" - 4:06
A cover of an old jazz song. Their cover version could have been one of the best songs off the album, if Steven Tyler didn't sing like he suddenly thought he was Aretha Franklin. 2/5
6.) "Prelude to Joanie" - 1:20
Not really worth writing a review for, since it's just a prelude to the next song on the album. N/A
7.) "Joanie's Butterfly" - 5:35
Probably the album's strongest cut lyrically, and musically it competes with "Lightning Strikes". Not only is it an uplifting, satisfying tune to ease out the album's pure frustration, but "Joanie's Butterfly" is thankfully the longest song on the album. 4/5
8.) "Rock in a Hard Place" - 4:45
Initially I liked this song quite a bit, but looking back I realize that it was the pinnacle of Aerosmith's un-creativity during the Crespo-Dufay era - the song is essentially a reworking of an early hit for the band, "Same Old Song and Dance" from Get Your Wings (1974). 2/5
9.) "Jig Is Up" - 3:10
I never really got around to understanding "Jig Is Up", nor did I really care, given what a dull, boring, and repetitive song it is. 1/5
10.) "Push Comes to Shove" - 4:28
The album's closing track. I don't really like that song - I find it unorthodox and unsatisfying, and what's worst of all is the awkward taste in my ears when the album's over. Just so you get a good idea of what "Push Comes to Shove" sounds like, picture Diana Ross getting high and then joining a garage band with a lounge pianist. Doesn't seem quite right, does it? 2/5
Joe Perry and Brad Whitford would re-join the band in 1984. This album and the follow-up, Done With Mirrors
(1985), could have easily ended their careers, though the multi-platinum success of Permanent Vacation
(1987) saved the band. I'm just glad that Aerosmith has sobered up since the Crespo-Dufay era. It just goes to show, though, what drugs and lineup changes can do to a band.