Aerosmith - Rock In A Hard Place review


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Band: Aerosmith
Album: Rock In A Hard Place
Release date: August 1982

01. Jailbait
02. Lightning Strikes
03. Bitch's Brew
04. Bolivian Ragamuffin
05. Cry Me A River [Arthur Hamilton cover]
06. Prelude To Joanie
07. Joanie's Butterfly
08. Rock In A Hard Place (Cheshire Cat)
09. Jig Is Up
10. Push Comes To Shove

Probably the most apt title in the band's career next to Rocks, Rock In A Hard Place sees Aerosmith do as the title suggests, rock out while strung out.

Garnering the reputation of the worst record in the band's career and as a recorded piece of evidence of just how far their excess' had caused them to decline; you would expect the album to be a complete dumpster fire. While the album is certainly dwelling in the flames of the band's turmoil at the time, it may be singed and burnt at the edges but Rock In A Hard Place isn't a total write off.

Of course, no amount of window dressing can make up for the content of the album. It would be an understatement to say it has no hits on it; this record has some good moments and ideas scattered across its 40-minute run time but nothing that is worth spending time on when you consider the rest of the material the band has produced over the years.

The record is a mixed affair; most of the songs feature a good hook or riff on which to build off of, but for various reasons *cough* these aren't followed through on in good order and collapse shortly afterwards into disparate sounds until the song ends and the next song repeats this process. Basically, they got too stoned or drunk to follow up on what seemed like a decent idea and just slapped on whatever they dragged themselves through afterwards. This seems to be the real kicker though, the fact that underneath all the abuses there is still a germ of talent that isn't built on.

Tyler is at his lowest point here both chemically and as a musician, the power has been drained from his voice and you are left with the shell of a man rambling at the microphone. His usual wails are reduced to shrill calls that break quickly and see him parody himself. Given that these were supposed to be the strongest cuts from the period, you can only imagine what state he was in on the unused cuts. In particular, "Push Comes To Shove" is supposed to be based on a smokey bar blues singer but Tyler is too good of a fit, making you wonder if this was intentional or this is just the drugs talking. It reminds me of South Park's Phil Collins parody.

The rest of the band are mostly on autopilot; they play solidly but with next to no enthusiasm and it shows. There is no charm or warmth in the instrumental work and as a result it is hard to connect with it. It doesn't help that for the most part there is next to no spark or creativity to allow the band to put some personality on; much of the songs play out as generic type X or Y song with Tyler on top of it. "Jig Is Up" is standard blues with no flair put into it, "Lightning Strikes" is a standard rocker and "Cry Me A River" is a limp excuse for a cover.
It is Dufay and Crespo I feel sorry for here, their sole contributions (although Crespo was around during the prior record) to appear in a band as big as Aerosmith and this is the material they get to work with. Their moment in the sun happens to be the day there is a solar eclipse.

"Bitch's Brew" is the strongest track on here; the chorus guitar line works well and is somewhat catchy. It seems to be the only track where the band were all on a decent standing and wavelength to follow through on what is an ok idea. While it won't go down as a great in the grand scheme of Aerosmith, it at least shows that the band could pull something off even at their worst.

Douglas should get big props here, the fact he was able to corral something from the band even if it was this, is worthy of note. The record does sound pretty decent though lifeless at times; it's a shame this sound isn't made better use of in regards to the musicianship and song quality, as it is Douglas' best work with the band since Rocks.

Yes, this is regarded as among the band's worst output for a reason; aside from one good song and some scattered ideas that show seeds of potential that never germinate, the rest of the album is a write off. Given its reputation, I was hesitant to listen to it for awhile but a slow day and curiosity got the better of me; I can see why the band would stoke the album's reputation to deter people from listening to it, but it isn't as bad as all the hype suggests.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 5
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 5
Production: 7

Written by omne metallum | 14.09.2020



Comments: 1   Visited by: 2 users
16.09.2020 - 16:50
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Those old rock bands, some old n early heavy metal bands, did some wird 50s 60s blues covers, tidays bands do 80s bands covers, sortha forgotten bands, songs. Sorts miss those n even original as well.
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

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