Review Summary: Though a haze of drugs and excess still followed the band, they found the drive to release Done With Mirrors after a lengthy period of breakup. DWM is an important Aerosmith record, and an overlooked gem.
After Joe Perry and Brad Whitford left Aerosmith, Steven Tyler, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer rambled along for a few years, releasing the lone album, Rock in a Hard Place. The monothilic, sleazy force that had once been Aerosmith looked tired and dried up, bloated by excess. Somehow, in 1984, the band got back together and played a series of gigs, eventually culminating in a full-fledged reunion. Done With Mirrors was recorded in 1985 and released later that year.
Done With Mirrors starts out with a bang with Let the Music Do The Talking, a track taken from Joe Perry's solo album and re-recorded with alternate lyrics. It's a fast, crude number with an infectious, rolling chorus. The band sounds revitalized, or at the very least, happy to be back together again. The trend continues with My Fist Your Face, a mid-tempo power-chord rocker with liberal doses of guitar noodling and a killer hook. Now, I'm not a stickler for quality lyrics, but I've got to say, for the most part, Steven Tyler's ramblings were completely incomprehesible to me on My Fist Your Face. One second it's underaged hookers, then Betty Boop, he even name-checks Back In the Saddle, and all of it in anchored by the delightfully beligerant chorus.
From then on things slow down a little. We're introduced to Shame On You, a slow, grooving rock song which recalls Led Zeppelin. It's got a terribly catchy riff which ties the whole ditty together, but besides that the song seems devoid of ideas, although Tyler's belting here is notably passionate. The Reason A Dog always strikes me as an odd track. It's hard to tell what kind of atmosphere the band was going for, but it's compelling, regardless. We move on through Shela, a pedal-riffed mid-tempo number, and Gypsy, a song that sounds as if it's trying too hard, and find ourselves at She's On Fire. The song feature's song great Joe Perry slide riffage, and very intense vocals from Tyler. A notably good number. The Hop is an upbeat song which recalls a night of madness with the boys in Aerosmith, and the closer, Darkness, is just that. A very swinging, ethereal closing number.
A lot of the songs feel like half finished ideas. Guitar solo's are often low in the mix, and many songs don't even have any distinct lead portions, There are a lot of great nuggets of Aerosmith gold buried beneath the tired exterior, and it's disappointing to think of what this album could have been Aerosmith not been wrangling it's own drug problems during the recording. They sound glad to be back together, but the mist hadn't cleared yet.