Bands 42 years into their career usually don’t offer many surprises. However, no one knew what to expect from Aerosmith’s 15th studio album, Music from Another Dimension!
Would it be a loud blues-rock album a la Honkin’ on Bobo
; a bland pop-rock release a la Just Push Play?
Would it sound like raunchy rock from the guys who became known as the Bad Boys from Boston or more like an album fronted by a former American Idol
The truth is Music from Another Dimension
is all of that. For better or worse, it has everything you would identify with an Aerosmith album. The most difficult part of judging a band with Aerosmith’s longevity is their large body of work. In their prime from 1973 to 1993, Aerosmith was arguably the best rock band in the world. Comparing Music from Another Dimension
with the classics of that era is unfair, as it is to expect musicians in their sixties to sound like they did in their twenties. Held up against Aerosmith at their best, the new album falls short. Compared to their more recent work and the work of their contemporaries, though, it holds up quite well.
The new album, Aerosmith’s first of original material in 11 years, is a mixed bag that delivers everything Aerosmith fans love and everything they hate. All of their signatures are present, from singer Steven Tyler’s innuendo-laden and scat-inspired vocal delivery, to Tyler-Joe Perry vocal harmonies, to Perry’s robust guitar chops. The ballads, as usual, feature Perry’s trademark arpeggios and an almost-subliminal string section in the chorus. Even more obscure Aerosmith tropes are here, such as Tyler’s affinity for quoting and name-dropping their older songs in the lyrics.
Fittingly, Aerosmith looked to the past in working with producer Jack Douglas, who helmed many of their great early albums. His classic rock influence is most apparent in the bouncing boogie of “Out Go the Lights,” the high point of the album. Aerosmith also reteamed with some of the songwriters that had collaborated with them on pop hits since the 1980s. Desmond Child can boast of his work on one of Aerosmith’s best songs (1989’s “What It Takes”), but this time around he contributes only “Another Last Goodbye,” a saccharine album-closer that is plagued by a predictable formula and Tyler’s over-singing. Turning again to Diane Warren was an obvious choice, since she wrote the band’s only number-one song, (“I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing”). This time, though, the result is a milquetoast “We All Fall Down.” For reasons unknown, Tyler, Perry and company also enlisted the help of Marti Frederiksen, who is responsible for the worst songs in the Aerosmith catalog, including most of Just Push Play. While some of his collaborations work, the expected clunkers are there, such as the duet with Carrie Underwood, “Can’t Stop Loving You.”
Those with a distaste for Aerosmith’s Top 40 sound will want to skip several tracks, but there are more than enough gems to salvage Music from Another Dimension
. “Freedom Fighter” and “Something,” both fronted by Perry, showcase the band’s blues-rock roots. Perry’s blazing slide guitar dominates the frenetic “Legendary Child” and “Lover Alot.” The Tom Hamilton-penned “Tell Me” stands out as a bright spot among the ballads.
No new ground is tread with Music from Another Dimension. Instead, the album sounds more like current Aerosmith rehashing their career. While that may pale in comparison to the band’s pre-1997 output, when measured against their more recent work, it’s a modest success.