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Aerosmith- Rock In A Hard Place

Review No: 241
Added 2nd September 2005


Steve Tyler: Vocals, Piano and Harmonica

Ritchie Dufay: Guitars

Jimmy Crespo: Guitars

Tom Hamilton: Bass

Joey Kramer: Drums

In 1979 Aerosmith released their sixth Studio album 'Night In The Ruts’, the recording of the album had not run smoothly to say the least, in fact lead singer Steve Tyler, and lead guitarist Joe Perry could not be left in the same room for fear of an instant fight starting up.

The result was that Perry left the band half way through recordings, and Jimmy Crespo was brought in on suggestion of Aerosmith producer Jack Douglas to complete the recording. The results were patchy, although when the album was released to the public no mention was made of Perry not having completed the recordings, nor was Crespo given any credits. (So the album still went into the charts on advance sales alone such was the popularity of Aerosmith at the time) It was not until the band actually went out onto the road that Crespo's position in the band was announced along with Joe Perry's new solo career with his new band Joe Perry's Project.

The resulting concert from the new look Aerosmith were often disastrous mainly due to the bands excess's, Steve Tyler was often so out of it that he could not finish the set, the rest of the band old and new members were not exactly helping matters either. At the end of the tour second guitarist Brad Whitford left the band to go off and form a new band with ex-Ted Nugent guitarist/vocalist Derek St. Holmes (One self titled album in 198, Not bad either) Now to lose one guitarist is unfortunate, to lose two is downright careless.

Aerosmith fell into disarray, all of the band members were nearly broke through their own indulgences, even though all six previous albums had gone platinum and they could sell out any stadium in the United States Of America.

Lightning Strikes
Bitch's Brew
Bolivian Ragamuffin
Cry Me A River
Prelude to Joanie
Joanie's Butterfly
Rock In Hard Place (Cheshire Cat)
Jig Is Up
Push Comes To Shove

With more of an eye on the finances than musical endeavour Jack Douglas herded together what he could find of the remaining members of Aerosmith, added second guitarist Ritchie Dufay as a replacement for Brad Whitford, and put them back in the studio. Although the sessions were never easy, the combination of Tyler's natural talent, the rock solid rhythm section of Tom Hamilton, and Joey Kramer. Plus the unbridled enthusiasm of the two new axe slingers, they managed to come up with a pretty fine cocktail of a rock'n'roll album. It is noticeable that Jimmy Crespo takes at least partial song writing credits for six of the ten songs, Jimmy Crespo's style of lead guitar work is also a million miles from that of Joe Perry's, there are two covers (The old chestnut 'Cry Me A River' plus a song from Ritchie Supa ' Lightning Strikes written when he was trying out himself for the band).

But it is still a fine edition to any record collection. Is it an Aerosmith album without Perry and Whitford on it? (Is 'Banana's' a Deep Purple album without Blackmore or Lord?) Well it says Aerosmith on the cover.

The album gets off to a rocking start with "Jailbait" a really raunchy rocker with a great hook by Jimmy Crespo's guitar, that rocks you to your very boots, this is immediately followed up by a typical one-two of another assault on your rock'n'roll senses with the belting ''Lightning Strikes'' now if this song had been included on any Aerosmith album but this one it would be acclaimed as an all time Aerosmith classic, a real scorching rocker that should of given this version of Aerosmith a huge hit single. This is followed by two Aerosmithish (sic) chunks of Funk/Rock ''Bitches Brew" and the wonderful "Bolivian Ragamuffin''. There is then a wonderfully over the top cover of "Cry Me A River" Steve Tyler throws so much pathos into this, he probably attempted to throw himself down the river afterwards, Jimmy Crespo must of nearly broken his back trying to reach some of those notes. I bet when the original band got back together this song was never discussed to be put in the setlist. "Prelude to Joanie" is a nice tilt into the centre piece of the album "Joanie's Butterfly'' the whole band gel beautifully on this song and it is amazing to think they had to be coerced into getting back in the studio. Title track “Rock In a Hard Place (Cheshire Cat) " is a good solid stadium rocker which if the band could of collectively stood up at the same time would of had them stomping in the aisles in live concert . The album starts with a bang with it's first two songs, but I'm afraid goes out with a bit of a whimper on the last two studio cuts here. "Jig Is Up" and "Push Comes to shove” .The best thing that can be said about these two is, nice titles boys, but a bit too much Aerosmith by numbers.

Rock In A Hard Place ' was the first Aerosmith album not to go Platinum, and the only Aerosmith album never to get into the American Billboard Top 30. But it should not be summarily dismissed as it does have it's moments, certainly standing up better today than it's predecessor's Night In The Ruts'.

In 1985 sensed prevailed and the original members of Aerosmith got back together, collectively cleaned up their act, (Even Alcohol and Cigarettes are not allowed back stage at an Aerosmith concert these days), and went onto to reclaim their place at the top of the International Rock'n'Roll Circus. Not without several hitches along the way though, first reunited album 'Done With Mirrors ' (1985) was not a success either only briefly flirting with the charts and to this day has never gone platinum, a failure in the high expectations world of Aerosmith. It took a collaboration with Rap masters Run D.M.C. on the Aerosmith penned "Walk This Way"(1986) to get them back in the charts, before the hits started to flow from the second reunited album' Permanent Vacation' after which Aerosmith more or less went onto be a permanent fixture on MTV.

Today Aerosmith are still at the very top of the tree, going into their later years with grace and dignity, which is very surprising as at the beginning of the Eighties no one would of given much chance of any of them being alive by the turn of the Century. In 2004 Aerosmith released an album of blues covers' Honking On Bobo' which topped the album charts worldwide, and they toured American Stadiums on the back of this. 2005 was designated as a year off ,during which time Joe Perry did his first solo album for twenty years "Joe Perry'' which Rolling Stone Magazine has called the ultimate guitarist album. But expect Aerosmith to re-group in 2006 and hit back hard.

Mott the Dog resides at Jameson's the Irish Pub