Review Summary: Aerosmith's premier recording at the peak of their drug years when they were still a cohesive whole. Excessive and loud, Draw the Line is exactly the kind of album you'd except from a bunch of guys who could finally afford all their vices.
After the success of Rocks and Toys in the Attic, Aerosmith was riding high, literally. They took some time off and returned to the studio in 1977, releasing Draw the Line.
Make no mistake, this is an Aerosmith album, which is wonderfully evident as soon as the record starts spinning. Draw the Line is a delicious slice of sleaze with a guitar riff that rumbles and roars like some kind of deranged beast while Steven Tyler screeches cocaine blues. The next track, I Wanna Know Why, is more reserved, but holds a distinct boogy. It seems like the band wants to be having a good time, but that there just isn't anything fun going on; Tyler sings of fame and misfortune behind the shuffle. The next track, Critical Mass, is an abnormality, and features a great bassline from Tom Hamilton, backwards guitars, harmonica solo's, doubletracked guitars and some bizarre storytelling from Tyler. The song is completely overblown, but it works, and is easily one of my favorite tracks.
From there we get into the meat and potatoes of the album, starting with Get It Up, where Joe Perry slides and chops manically at his guitar, while Tyler laments not being able to get it up along with chipmunk backing vocals. The chorus is immediately catchy, maybe the most catchy on the CD. Next up is Bright Light Fright, a track that apparently all the members of Aerosmith hated, but Joe Perry insisted on including. Needless to say, it's the weakest track on the album. From there we bite into Kings and Queens, a bit of a deviation, to say the least from typical Aerosmith sleaze-rock. It's a rather melancholy, heavy number, with low guitars and ominous lyrics. The picked guitars play well into the song, and the guitar solo's are killer. The Hand That Feeds is a bit of a throwaway track, not really notable in any way whatsoever, it sounds like an Aerosmith song, that's about all your can say. There's a neat little solo bit near the end, though.
Rounding out the end is Sight For Sore Eyes, which is one of the stronger tracks, featuring an undeniable boogie and a cool, mid-song solo. Finally, Milk Cow Blues, continuing the blues-cover trend, finishes the album off. Milk Cow is actually probably one of the best tracks on the album, sporting several great solo's and a bouncy riff, along with some fun harmonica work.
Draw the Line isn't a bad CD, but it's decidedly average by Aerosmith standards. The guitar is often low in the mix, drowned out by the bass, and the riffs are much less inspired and less technical than anything on Rocks and Toys in the Attic. The whole production is very insular, but Aerosmith was in their own little world at the time, so it fits. Through the haze of excess, they managed to pull off another big hit, but you can hear them falling apart at the seams. They throw a few curveballs, and there are some amusing diversions, but despite their best efforts it comes off sounding abrasive and unfocused, despite it's merits.