Aerosmith released Rocks after their breakout album Toys In The Attic which had such hits as Walk This Way and Sweet Emotion. They knew it would be hard to follow up such an amazing album but they did it pretty well. The cover of Rocks shows five diamonds surrounded by black. I'd have to say it's a pretty fitting cover. Although the diamonds are there for Joe Perry's recently deceased father, the black could easily represent the dark sound in many of these songs. With this album Aerosmith proved that they were and are the greatest rock and roll band in America.
Tom Hamilton - Bass
Joey Kramer - Drums
Joe Perry - Guitar, Vocals
Steven Tyler - Vocals, Piano, Harmonica, Percussion
Brad Whitford - Guitar
1. Back In The Saddle (Tyler, Perry)
The albums kicks off with a great opening song. The into of the song builds up very well to the main riff and to Steven Tyler scream "I'm bacccckkkkkkk." A different kind of microphone was used to record the vocals to this song. The microphone was held far away from Steven and could take on the his screaming vocals which is why the screams sound loud but not overwhelming. The main riff to this song was written by Joe Perry on a six string bass guitar while on the floor of a hotel, stoned off heroin. He actually does play the six string bass in this song, something he likes to call "lead bass," while Tom Hamilton still plays the regular bass. This song has some really great riffs to go along with the western sort of feel to the song. Tyler attached tambourines to cowboy boots one day while in the studio and stepped on a plank of wood so get a cowboy type sound. Toward the end of the song there is a whipping sound which is almost not even audible, which comes from a whip that Tyler and producer Jack Douglas brought into the studio one day for that purpose. 4/5
2. Last Child (Tyler, Whitford)
This song was written at the A. Wherehouse in Waltham, Massachusetts with Brad messing around with some riffs and Steven on drums. It eventually turned into this song which starts off with an arpegio of D minor, G, and E7 then this funky riff comes in. The chorus has a pretty beautiful sound to it, although it's very simple. In the chorus Steven sings the words "Home, sweet home." After the second chorus you get hit with Brad's amazing guitar solo. I'd say it's probably one of the best solos from any Aerosmith song. After the solo they return to the funky riff and Tyler sings, "Mama take me home sweet home, I was a last child, just a punk in the street, I was a last child just a punk in the street..." While in this verson of the song the song fades out to police sirens, in the "remixed" verson which radios often play, you get the full outro guitar solo which ends abruptly, yet sounds pretty cool. 4/5
3. Rats In The Cellar (Tyler, Perry)
This song begins with subtle sirens and the sped up sound of Joey's hi-hats opening and closing, then after a second or two they return to normal speed. Then the drums and a couple hard hitting chords open the song along with a short guitar solo. The lyrics come in for the verse and they're sung pretty fast. The song progresses and another great solo comes and passes then after the third chorus Aerosmith pretends to be like the early Fleetwood Mac. They have an outro that if very reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac's "Rattlesnake Shake" (a favorite of Aerosmith's). This outro just builds and builds and seems to be getting faster. Going from one riff to another the song ends dramatically at the climax. 3.5/5
4. Combination (Perry)
Joe Perry claims that this is his first song as lead vocalist but it honestly doesn't sound like it's him alone. It sounds like it's he and Steven throughout the whole song, almost yelling the whole, and I'd say Steven even sounds louder. But this underrated, sort of "ignored" song is actually a great tune. It has a bunch of really great riffs throughout the whole song. I wish I could tell you what the song is about but honestly I'm not quite sure. The song ends with an outro of fast-strummed guitars and Joey playing the toms. 4/5
5. Sick As A Dog (Tyler, Hamilton)
Sick As A Dog starts with a beautiful harmony-based riff and transitions into a verse with a simple yet very effective power chord riff which is played under Steven singing "Pleeeaaaaaaaase, I just got to talk to you/Pleaaaaaasssee...." which sounds great with eachother. The chorus comes and after the chorus is a very short yet neat guitar fill and then the song returns to the verse. After the second chorus the key of the song changes and Brad's guitar solo comes in which sounds like it's harmonizing with a very quiet acoustic guitar playing what sounds like the first bar of the guitar solo over and over again in the background. After the solo the verse and chorus is played one more time before returning to the harmony which is the intro. There is a bit of a quiet interlude which is one guitar and no bass playing the verse. Then the second guitar and the bass comes in and then Joe solos while the song fades out. The way this song was recorded is very interesting. Tom and Brad are playing the guitars while Joe is on the bass. Once the interlude comes in and the bass exits for a short time, Joe handed the bass to Steven and Joe picked up a guitar to play the final solo. So in the end Tom, Brad and Joe are playing the guitars while Steven is on the bass. 4.5/5
6. Nobody's Fault (Tyler, Whitford)
This song begins with guitar notes fading in and out and then if you listen hard you can hear a door opening. An E minor is then sort of played with the volume pedal and then the drums come in and the song explodes. It opens with Brad doing a great, short guitar solo using the wah pedal. This song has a couple different sounding themes. Most of the song sounds pretty angry but then Steven sings "Sorry, I'm so sorry, don't be sorry" and it sounds a bit less angry. The chorus is quite long and has quite a few elements including the "sorry" secion. After the second chorus theres another amazing guitar solo. The song is all about earthquakes, due to the recent earthquake which happened in California I believe before Steven wrote the song. They were all scared to death of earthquakes to Steven decided he might as well write a song about it. The song ends with a guitar solo. The guitar tracks create a really unique atmosphere. In fact Brad did every guitar track for the song. Joey also has said that he believes that some of his best drum work was on this song. Aerosmtih just recently started playing this song live. The first time was in Japan while on the Nine Lives tour, over 20 years after the song was recorded. 5/5
7. Get The Lead Out (Tyler, Perry)
This song begins with the guitar playing an awesome riff and then then drums comes in and the second guitar seems to be doubling the first for most of the song, until the solos come in. This song was played alot in the 70's after it was recorded but hasn't seen much life during the past 20 years. Tyler's lyrics are actually quite catchy in this song, nothing fancy. "(Get ready)I'll show you my best/(Get ready)take hold of my wrist/(Get ready)we really can't miss/Hey good lookin'/Whatchoo got there there cookin'/You the young spring chicken/Make your feet start kickin." It's really a nice jam song. About halfway though the song Steven begins playing harmonica and theres a cowbell being hit. This overall is a great song with really good solos. 4/5.
8. Lick And A Promise
In it's simplest form this song is about winning over an audince, one of the hardest things to do according to Mr. Tyler. This is probably the fastest song on the album and it's yet another song with catchy lyrics. The song opens fading in with Joey hammering on the toms and with a very interesting, poppy guitar riff. These poppy guitar riffs continue throughout the whole song. They sound great and they also fit well. Toward the end of the song there's a part where it sounds like there's a crowd yelling "more." The band wanted to give it a "live" sound so they got six guys(a drug dealer, a friend, and a few guys who worked at the studio), and got them to say the word "more" into a microphone. They had the technology to make six guys sound like two thousand which is why it sounds like Aerosmith is playing live in the end of the song. 3.5/5
9. Home Tonight
This song seems like it's supposed to be the equivalent of You See Me Crying from Toys In The Attic. It sure seems like it lives up to the standards that You See Me Crying set and may have even succeeded those yet the song ends very early. This song, an amazing piano "power" ballad with very emotional lyrics, ends before you can fully enjoy what you had just listened to. The amazing lyrics are so heartfelt and emotional. "Maybe drink up cheers to yesterday/And maybe you'll drink those tears away/So baby don't let go/Hold on real tight/'Cause I'll be home tonight." The song proceeds with a real nice sounding guitar solo and returns to a little more singing. The song seems to get a little more intense but it fades out and you finally realize how good the song was. Although the song is a little short (just 3:15 long), I'd have to say that along with You See Me Crying, this is one of the greatest ballads I've heard. 5/5
Overall this album is great. I'd have to say this along with Toys In The Attic is Aerosmith's zenith of the seventies. There's really no weak spot on this album, it's all full-on rock, and they are all very enjoyable tracks. This is really close to a perfect album. Aerosmith went over-the-top with these classics and it was only a matter of time until they'd do it again.
-Back In The Saddle
-Sick As A Dog
Honestly, I recommend every song. They're all great rock songs in their own way. But I'd have to say those five before the other four.