Review Summary: The pinnacle of what Aerosmith could achieve.
Before collapsing under a monolithic force of self parody, egomania, Morrison-esque drug usage, and saccharine balladry that made Nick Lachey sound like the second coming of Converge, Aerosmith at one point was an effective and influential rock band. Although their legacy has been tarnished for legitimate reasons; writing a song like “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” would derail the most legitimate of artists, the mid 70’s begat a time when Aerosmith was a premier act in hard rock. A cavalcade of subpar albums like “Get a Grip,” “Just Push Play,” and “Nine Lives” may have sent Aerosmith’s relevance into an uncontainable tailspin, but ignoring recent history paves the ground for a study into their prime years, a period when the Boston quartet would reach the near pinnacle of hard rock songwriting. Albums such as “Get Your Wings,” “Rocks,” and to a lesser extent “Draw the Line” are deliciously loaded with infectious riffs and vivacious double entendres and can be considered staples of dinosaur rock, although none would prove to be their masterwork. Released in 1975, “Toys in the Attic” is the apex and culmination of their abilities, a landmark album that showcased the blues drenched fury Aerosmith was capable of, and sadly, would never achieve again.
In the 70’s Aerosmith were labeled as a hybrid between the tongue-in cheek swank of the Rolling Stones and the bombast of Led Zeppelin. There was little attempt to belie the homage to the their British contemporaries, and although they would never achieve the epic, atmospheric heft of Zeppelin, Aerosmith was effective at fusing the Stones influenced groove with a needed dose of hard rock crunch and melodic sensibilities. “Toys in the Attic” is the culmination of these influences, an album that excels in showcasing big time riffs, dirty grooves and melodic underpinnings. The record is sonically diverse, blending elements of jazz, layered piano, power blues, and an atmospheric sense of harmony coinciding with the thick slabs of hard rock riffage that serves as the backbone. From a commercial standpoint, “Toys in the Attic” is canonized for its inclusion of Classic Rock staples “Walk This Way,” “Sweet Emotion,” and the title track, but perhaps its greatest redeemable factor is the strength of the album as a whole, and with the exception of one ill-advised cover of “Big Ten Inch Record,” there is very little filler or weakness.
The commercially viable highpoints of “Toys in the Attic” are well documented and played into classic rock radio oblivion. The attacking groove of the title track, the sinister bass, exploding guitar, and Beatles-esque chorus harmony of “Sweet Emotion,” and the rapid fire atmosphere of “Walk This Way” serve as effective gateways to the record, stamping a well earned place in rock history and cementing a lasting sense of memorability. Expounding upon these foundations, the remaining pieces are a display of each musician at the peak of their talents, in particular the guitar tradeoffs of lead player Joe Perry and underrated rhythm player Brad Whitford, the rolling bass of Tom Hamilton, even the vocals of Steven Tyler, submitting his best performance. The loungy, unconventional feel of “Uncle Salty” coincides well with “Adam’s Apple,” a blues riff clinic that stands as one of Aerosmith’s most overlooked tracks. The last quarter of the record permeates a heightened sense of diversity, as the heavy, Zeppelin-esque “Round and Round” collapses into the enormously layered and pleading piano ballad “You See Me Crying,” arguably the most gripping ballad in their catalog. While “Big Ten Inch Record” and its campy, sophomoric platitudes are a weak point, it is quickly redeemed by “No More No More,” an infectious, soaring track that combines beautifully placed harmonizing acoustics with driving, immediate hard rock sensibilities. On an album of highlights, “No More No More” stands the tallest, and cements itself as the pinnacle of Aerosmith’s prime.
The final verdict on “Toys in the Attic” provides a lasting sense of both elation and sadness. The timelessness of the record is rarely debated, but the lightning in a bottle energy captured here would quickly erupt into a smoldering avalanche of laughability in coming years. Their next album, “Rocks,” bought them some time, but Aerosmith’s decline was ominously approaching. Despite this, the peak of what the band could achieve should be acknowledged, and the record will undoubtedly stand as a classic as long as hard rock and power blues still exist.
No More No More
Toys in the Attic
You See Me Crying
Well "Rocks" is a great album, but yeah, it wouldn't take long for things to go to shit for them. When they were recording "Draw the Line," Tyler was so coked up he heard "you See Me Crying" on the radio and asked Joe Perry who the artist was.
I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing isn't as bad as everyone likes to make it sound
^ Maybe its because I love old Aersosmith and couldnt stand the delving into pop, maybe it was lines like "then I kiss your eyes and thank God we're together," or maybe its because I worked as a DJ at a top 40 radio station when this came out and teenage girls would call every ten minutes requesting it, but I DESPISE that song.
I think you'd like this one Nag, its considered one of the greatest albums of classic rock, although probably not on this site.
So many albums, so little time. I'll give you a choice. Either I'll check out The Hold Steady or this. And another thing: try writing negative reviews also. You've got a few, but more will be good for developing better writing.
haha. Oh man. Well I like the Hold Steady album more. On the other hand this is an essential component of rock history. I'd go with the Hold steady just because you've probably heard some of this at one point or another, it would be almost impossible not to.
Good review, but I think Rocks is a slightly better album. I'm crazy into classic rock so obviously Aerosmith is one of my favourite bands, and this gets spins so often- despite me owning it for so long and getting into a lot more bands and albums since then- it's insane. Band doesn't get enough love on this site for sure, most of their albums are pretty good IMO