Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension!
(2012, Columbia Records)
1. “LUV XXX”
2. “Oh Yeah”
4. “Tell Me”
5. “Out Go the Lights”
6. “Legendary Child”
7. “What Could Have Been Love”
8. “Street Jesus”
9. “Can’t Stop Loving You”
10. “Lover Alot”
11. “We All Fall Down”
12. “Freedom Fighter”
15. “Another Last Goodbye”
16. “Up On the Mountain”
17. “Oasis in the Night”
18. “Sunny Side of Love”
Steven Tyler – Lead vocals, Harmonica, Piano, Drums, Mandolin
Joe Perry – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals
Brad Whitford – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Tom Hamilton – Bass, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals
Joey Kramer – Drums, Backing Vocals
Producer: Jack Douglas, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Marti Frederiksen
Music From Another Dimension! is a good “comeback” album but a bit misleading if you were paying attention to the press leading up to its release. The band said they were going back to their ’70s blues-hard rock roots with this release and that’s true. On some of the songs. There’s still a lot here that can be compared to their last two original studio releases: 1997’s Nine Lives and 2001’s Just Push Play. Regardless, the album sounds like Aerosmith. It’s just a matter of which era.
And yes, I do liken Music From Another Dimension! to a comeback album (even if it seems like the band never went away… at least in terms of news). It’s been 11 years since their last original studio album and the band has broken up/nearly broken up/threatened replacing Tyler/battled so many addictions in that amount of time this really was a case of “Do they still have the magic after all of that?”
A few songs are actually an amalgamation of… well, everything. “Out Got The Lights” sounds like a culmination of the band’s various eras. It’s no surprise. Aerosmith really does seem to be embracing their entire history on this release despite the lip service to longtime fans. Jack Douglas is back producing (well, co-producing), which is good but other frequent Aerosmith collaborators are here as well. Diane Warren (offering up a ballad, of course), Desmond Child, Jim Vallance and Marti Frederiksen all contribute to varying degrees. This is slightly disappointing because I’m pretty sure at one point either Steven or Joe said the album was going to be a stripped down affair ala KISS and there would be no outside collaborations. To be fair, 7 of the 15 tracks were written exclusively by members of the band (and they tend to be the better songs!).
Let’s go over a few tracks. “Legendary Child” was the album’s lead single and I loved this one as soon as I heard it. It has that old school Aerosmith swagger but doesn’t sound retro at all even though the lyrics are a nod to their past. “Street Jesus” is completely old-school Aerosmith. Written by Steven, Joe and Brad. This is great hard rockin’ Aerosmith. One of the best pure hard rock tunes they’ve written in a looooong time, sure to please old Aerosmith fans. “Lover Alot” is another fun rocker that I would already put up there as a classic Aerosmith song. “What Could Have Been Love” is a decent but typical Aerosmith ballad. It sound likes what you’d expect from them. I like it but it doesn’t compare to previous ballads the band has done. I’m actually surprised they released that as a single and didn’t run with Diane Warren’s “We All Fall Down” or the Carrie Underwood duet “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”. “Beautiful” is the most modern sounding rock song on the album. Could’ve been on Just Push Play. I like it but it’ll probably not become a favorite with the Aerosmith faithful. I would’ve run with this as a single or tried to get it onto a soundtrack.
Joe Perry of course gets a few tracks to shine on vocals. “Freedom Fighter” sounds like Neil Young and features Johnny Depp on backing vocals. “Something” is a slow-moving bluesy number that would’ve fit right at home on Honkin’ On Bobo. Perry also shared vocals with Tyler on “Oh Yeah” and takes lead on the bonus track “Oasis in the Night”.
I have a few minor complaints. The opener “LUV XXX” gives you the idea that this is going to be another Just Push Play or Nine Lives. It isn’t terrible but I certainly wouldn’t have started the album off with it. Luckily, the next track “Oh Yeah” offers up a much more typical Aerosmith style song. My other complaint: there’s too many ballads! “Tell Me”, “What Could’ve Been Love”, “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”, “We All Fall Down”, “Closer”, “Another Last Goodbye”… Geez! There’s nothing wrong with these songs. There’s just too many of them! This is a rock band, right? Some of these songs should’ve been saved as bonus tracks for the various special editions. This is just too much to process. None of these ballads really get a chance to shine because two tracks later, here comes another one.
There are a total of 5 bonus tracks. Have fun buying all the editions to collect them all. At least you can buy the deluxe edition and get “Up on the Mountain”, “Oasis in the Night” and “Sunny Side of Love” on Disc 2. The remaining two bonus tracks are cover songs (The Temptations’ “Shakey Ground” and Mose Allison’s “I’m Not Talkin'”) and you’ll have to track down a Japanese edition to own both of those. Or settle for a Walmart edition where you can get “Shakey Ground” (which features ex-Aerosmith guitarist Rick Dufay). Luckily, all three bonus tracks from the deluxe edition are good.
I definitely think Aerosmith has succeeded and validated themselves. I think I would take Music From Another Dimension! over Nine Lives and Just Push Play any day. The band has done a great job bringing together the last 40 years of their music onto one album. It’s not what I was expecting. I was expecting a very old-school ’70s sounding album but let’s face it, Aerosmith is a mainstream brand and that’s not going to change now. Regardless, this is very good album and I’m happy to see despite all the band’s troubles that they could still come together and put out great music like this.
Highlights: “Beautiful”, “Out Go The Lights”, “Legendary Child”, “What Could Have Been Love”, “Street Jesus”, “Lover Alot”, “We All Fall Down”, “Freedom Fighter”, “Another Last Goodbye”, “Up On the Mountain”, “Oasis in the Night”, “Sunny Side of Love”