A is for Aerosmith (and Alice Cooper)

Credit: AliceCooper.com/Aerosmith.com

Two veteran rock acts have released new albums in the dog days of August circa 2023. One, “Greatest Hits” by Aerosmith, notes a career now ending. Meanwhile, the other, “Road” by Alice Cooper, celebrates an artist still going strong.

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We’ll start with Aerosmith. The Boston bad boys are on their farewell tour, as both the years and mileage have definitely taken their toll. The band’s last album of new material came out in 2012, and ever since its members have spent far more time reenacting the movie “Grumpy Old Men” than working together. Time to cash in and peace out.

Paraphrasing Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick, in the 1970s, Aerosmith was the band with which you annoyed your parents. By the 1990s, they were your parents. In the beginning, the band’s brand of slippery heavy blues earned them a spot on many a teenager’s turntable, with the surprising ballad “Dream On” latching onto the FM radio airplay pipeline.

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The band’s first phase hit its peak in January 1977, when ‘Walk This Way’ from the 1975 album “Toys in the Attic” album hit the Top 10.

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Aerosmith’s fortunes declined as its members’ drug use increased, and as the early 1980s slid into the decade’s middle portion, the band’s days as a creative and commercial force seemed over. This turned out not to be the case, as a revitalized Aerosmith started cranking out hit after hit from 1987 through 2001. Four of the five studio albums recorded during this time reached the Top Five, with two coming in at #1. During this period, Aerosmith enjoyed 15 Top 40 hits, including “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” which debuted at #1 in 1998 and stayed there for four weeks.

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With all that said, let’s get to the new “Greatest Hits” album, not to be confused with the 1990 album of the same name. There are two versions; this review looks at the Deluxe one.

At 44 songs, the album does a good but not great job of hitting all of Aerosmith’s highlights. It isn’t a true anthology, as it includes nothing from 1979’s “Night in the Ruts,” during which the recording of Joe Perry left. Neither is there anything from 1982’s “Rock in a Hard Place,” which saw Jimmy Crespo continuing to fill in for Joe Perry, as he had done in part during the “Night in the Ruts” project, and minimal input from Aerosmith’s other original guitarist Brad Whitford. The album also omits everything from the band’s penultimate studio album, 2004’s gloriously decadent blues covers project “Honkin’ on Bobo.” Understandably, from a band history standpoint but regrettably from a musical view, it does include the collaborative version of “Walk This Way” made with Run-DMC. To say it hasn’t aged well is an understatement on steroids.

What the album does have is pretty much every charting single Aerosmith has released, plus essential album tracks. All the classic cuts are here: ‘Dream On,’ ‘Walk This Way,’ ‘Sweet Emotion,’ ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady,’ ‘Janie’s Got a Gun,’ ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,’ and so on. More casual fans probably should stick with the 20-track basic edition. Still, this package is a delight for aficionados of Aerosmith’s uninhibited fusion of boozy blues and bash-it-out bar band rock‘n’roll.

Meanwhile, although in the same age bracket as Aerosmith but showing no signs of slowing down or so much as needing to stop and catch his breath, shock rock’s founding father Alice Cooper is back with a new album titled “Road.” Presently on the road for a lengthy co-headlining tour with Rob Zombie, Cooper and company have assembled a collection of fierce hard rockers sitting somewhere in between his classic 1970s days and the somewhat more polished 1980s anthem-oriented work such as “Poison.”

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While the album lacks any instant classics, it is solid from beginning to end, laced with power and a good dose of Cooper’s sense of humor.

And there you have it. Living proof that old guys rule. Crank it up.

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