Top 100 Hard Rock Groups
By James West, The-Rocker.com
Aerosmith and Kiss both hold special places in my Rock and Roll heart. As a result, they could easily switch places from 5th to 6th and vice versa on any given day of the week on my list of 100 Greatest Hard Rock Bands.
Both are fundamental in my musical education and grooming, but for different reasons. While Kiss is more about the Bombast, Show, and individual spotlights, Aerosmith is truly a group effort. Sure, more attention goes to the toxic twins of
Tyler and Perry, but the success and popularity of this Rock Band has always been a sum of all their parts. There is no "I" in Team, but in this group's case, a little "I... love drugs," didn't help things either!
Harder Than A Rolling Stone!
Like the Stones, it's a miracle the Bad Boys from Boston even survived the Seventies. The band as a whole barely did, as drug addiction and internal conflict took their toll on the band, which led to the departures of Perry and Whitford in 1979 and 1981. Even after they came back into the fold, It was not until the band's collaboration with rap group Run–D.M.C. in 1986, and
the 1987 multi-platinum release Permanent Vacation, that they regained the level of popularity they had experienced in the 1970s. But the key to Aerosmith's success has and always will be the chemistry between Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, and Joey Kramer, not the chemistry of drugs.
As I mention in my "About Us" tab on this website, my love for this incredible band started in 1975 when I purchased "Toys In The Attic".
From the moment the needle hit the groove I had found my new favorite band. They had the swagger and the groove of The Rolling Stones, but Harder, much Harder! The slower songs also had a great rhythm and a great harmony to
boot, much like The Beatles but on acid... well... on more acid! Lol So, a combo of The Stones and The Beatles in an American Rock Band? Where I come from that's called a Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner! The band even looked like the Stones; Perry like Keith Richards, Whitford like Mick Jones, and the singer in Aerosmith had that Jagger look down pat, but also a bit of American gravel in his voice and a New England Attitude thrown in for good measure. But, it's one thing to look cool, but the proof was definitely in the pudding. "Rocks" then came out and sealed the deal for me. Between these two gems from Aerosmith and "Alive" and "Destroyer" from Kiss, I was in Hard Rock Heaven in the 70's!
Playing With Those Toys In The Attic!
My love for Aerosmith has always been an album affair for me. In my opinion, that has always been what really makes a band great- When every single song on the album is different from every other song on the album- but still killer! Aerosmith had this down in spades. There's not a weak track on Toys In The Attic,
and it will always be my favorite album from the band, followed closely by Rocks.
Just look at the album cover on Toys; At first glance it looks like cute and playful animals tucked away for safe keeping- but look closer- you'll see it's actually a bunch of rowdy and dysfunctional characters all looking to wreak havoc! Gee, could this be a cover telling a story of what awaits you when you put on the vinyl? I think the bear is definitely Joey Kramer, the horse is Tom Hamilton, the jester frog is probably Steven Tyler, the elephant could be Brad Whitford, and maybe the old crotchety elf is Joe Perry? If anyone knows the answer please enlighten me!
The beauty of Aerosmith is that they're not afraid to show you their ugly side! And Toys In The Attic demonstrates this in great detail. From the full-frontal attack of Toys to the beatlesque-chime of Uncle Salty this album has a lot to say, and you're only two songs in! Throw in throw big band sound of Big Ten Inch Record with what you think has Tyler saying "Suck on my big ten inch" and you soon know what they mean by Rowdy Rock!
Can't Get Enough Sweet Emotion!
I asked my wife Danette, aka The Rocker Chic, about my favorite Aerosmith song the other day, and it was a toss up between Sweet Emotion from Toys and Last Child from Rocks. After much deliberation and assistance from my Facebook group "Rockers United" I came to the conclusion that Sweet
Emotion is my top choice! Thanks to group member Billy Hayes for his helpful insight! Billy and I also agree that You See Me Crying is one of the best vocal performances ever recorded in Rock and Roll. This whole album is a winner from start to finish!
That Time I Got My Rocks Off!
My second favorite Aerosmith album is Rocks. After the success of Toys I was really looking forward to the bad boys from Boston's next masterpiece, but what was up with that pretty album cover???
Like Led Zeppelin's Presence album cover, Rocks had that same sort of vibe. What was I in store for with this album? Those cute little diamonds were pretty and all, but was the album also gonna be that damn pretty also? God I hope not!!! It's funny how album covers had that much influence in your album purchasing decision back in the day!
I remember stopping by a little ice cream/sandwich shop in Ola, Arkansas near my hometown back in 1976 when Rocks first came out. I was pleasantly surprised to find a Last Child/Combination 45 in the juke box at this place out in the boonies! So, it was a way of me testing the waters with the new disc before I spent my hard-earned 10 bucks to buy the album.
I was a little worried with the harmonized start of Last Child, but then it kicked in to that killer relentless groove and I was in love immediately. Another quarter brought me Combination on the flip side and it was killer too. Another in your face riff that built up to a full blow out at the end of the song. Aerosmith had done it again, and I couldn't spend my 10 bucks fast enough at the Magic Mart! Ha!
Drawing The Line With Drugs!
My friend Leslie had the first Aerosmith album along with Get Your Wings and I dug those too, even though they lacked the punch of Toys and Rocks. I wasn't a big fan of Draw The Line. To me it had too many "slide" type riffs and grooves and was just plain sloppy in general, with the exception of the song Kings And Queens. You could sense the troubles the band
was having at the time as you listened through the muddy production and awkward song structures. It felt kind of cut and paste, like the band was too busy cutting up some blow instead of cutting the tunes right and delivering a solid performance.
It was the beginning of the end of the prime era of Aerosmith albums, although I did like Night In The Ruts better than Draw The Line. But after Joe Perry left the band I was done with Aerosmith until 1985's Done With Mirrors brought the still-struggling band back together.
Back From A Permanent Vacation!
Other standout albums are Pump and Permanent Vacation with the rest being good but not on the same level as their 70's heyday. The best songs from the band lately have come from soundtracks. What Kind Of Love Are You On is a killer tune from the Armageddon Soundtrack, and Angel's Eye is from the Charlie's Angels Soundtrack. Also, Beyond Beautiful from Just Push Play deserves a listen. It just sucks that Aerosmith's prime
had come and gone in the 70's, because they got major competition in the 80's and beyond!
With the onslaught of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and my new-found love for classic Zeppelin, Sabbath, Purple, The Who and The Rolling Stones, the 1980's became a big blender of great bands entering my life. The English bands soon became equals to the American bands, and It didn't help that Aerosmith and Kiss had changed drastically in trying to become Chart-obsessed and lost both their identities in the process.
The Train Keeps On A Rolling!
Photo's Courtesy of The Rocker Chic!
After 45 years the train keeps on a rolling for the Bad Boys of Boston! Just like their English counterparts The Rolling Stones, there's no stopping this incredible band! The Rocker Chic Danette and I saw them in Las Vegas in 2015 and they are playing better than ever live. They were even better than when I saw them on the Honkin' On Bobo tour back in 2004! Compare them now to what you saw even in 1978 at the Cotton Bowl concert and it's amazing what a sober Aerosmith can do on stage. They rank right up there with Kiss on my all time favorite concerts! Check out these cool shots that The Rocker Chic capured during the Vegas show, and please go see them before the train finally runs out of tracks for this awesome rock group!