Over the course of ten years Aerosmith released four studio albums, 1987's Permanent Vacation, 1989's Pump, 1993's Get A Grip, and 1997's Nine Lives, there was also 1994's Big Ones, which was pretty much an obligatory compilation album, to finish off their contract with Geffen. I've covered the first one in a past review, I own the second and will eventually cover it, the third one I have still not bought to this day, and never plan on it. However, this review is for the fourth album on that list.
I was so excited when I started hearing songs from the Nine Lives album on the radio. The first single was Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees) and that was a great song to start with. No Crazy/Amazing/Cryin' bullshit that could be found on the the last album. Instead we are treated to some real rock, but I'll get to more about that song in few paragraphs. Then their was Pink, which is such great tongue in cheek raunch, and then finally there was a ballad, but I was able to somewhat over look it.
What I'm trying to say here is that Nine Lives is the best album Aerosmith has realeased since 1976's Rocks. Sure there are a few ballads on here, it's was the easy "go to" for bands in the 90's. It was almost the only way to guarantee any type of real airplay, but this album proved that wrong. Sure there are some slow tunes on this album, but not all of them are ballads, some of them are just slower songs. The only thing on this album that is a major negative to me, is that the only Aerosmith members to get writing credits on the album are Tyler and Perry, and every song had outside co-writers.
The album opens with Nine Lives, which is a great kick off track. It's fast, furious, full of raw energy and animalist energies. The cat sounds that are being made at the start of the album are a cute touch and the music is just roaringly good. It's a cranker song.
I loved Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees) since I first heard it on the radio, and saw the music video. "You ain't that good / Is what you said down to the letter / But you like the way I hold the microphone / Sometimes I?m good but when I'm bad / I'm even better / Don't give me no lip / I've got enough of my own / There ain't gonna be no more beggin' you please / You know what I want / And it ain't one of these / You're bad to the bone / And your girlfriend agrees / That falling in love is so hard on the knees / I'm Jonesin' on love / Yeah I got the DT's / You say that we will yeah / But there ain't no guarantees / I'm major in love / But in all minor keys / 'Cause falling in love is so hard on the knees". You can take the last three set of lyrics and take two different meanings from them. But the reality is we all know what Steven is really talking about, and it's truthful Rock N' Roll poetry. To me the only downside to this song is that it's the shortest track on the album.
The album had to have one silly little ballad for the girls, since they do make up a lot of the Aerosmith fan base. So, we got Hole In My Soul. It's not a bad song, I like it much better than all that Crazy/Amazing/Cryin' crap, but it's still pretty much just as bad as those. I liked it better when Aeromsith only released one ballad a decade. Like the fact that the 1970's had Dream On, and that's it.
Taste Of India was a fantastic track included on this album. I know the Indian music motif was done very heavily in the 60's and 70's, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin quickly come to mind. However, this is Aerosmith showing their first signs of musicial exploration in twenty plus years, and I think it's fantastic. I also like the fact that this song is actually inspired by Indian food, and not a stripper named India. To this day, this is still one of my favourite songs.
The first track on the album I find myself wanting to skip is Full Circle. It's a ballad, but not your basic "Oooo baby" type of one. This is more of a slow reflection song, as the chorus points out. "Time / Don't let it slip away / Raise yo' drinkin' glass / Here's to yesterday / In time / We're all gonna trip away / Don't piss Heaven off / We got Hell to pay / Come full circle". Musically it's good, but it's pretty basic and standard for Aerosmith.
Something's Gotta Give is pretty much an album filler as well. It's a really quick paced head bopper, but it's nothing that you haven't heard before. To me the only really cool redeeming quality to this song is the amount of harmonica in the song. Also I find it odd how this song is only 3:36 but I would swear it still runs in the five minute range.
Ain't That A Bitch is another slow track, but not a ballad. This one has a very 1950's, Black & White, Film Noir, Detective kind of feel to it, at least in the beginning, and it still carries on during the verses in a limited capacity. Sadly, during the choruses the song sounds like a typical Aerosmith ballad. If they had been able to have the whole song keep the vibe set in the intro, this would have been a much better song. Instead it turns into stock Aerosmith. Ain't that a bitch.
Normally the second half of an album is where a band throws all of the tracks they wish to bury, or use to fill out an album. I would say that most of the filler crap was put in the front of this album. The album starts to get interesting at track seven with The Farm. Musically, it's really basic, and there is nothing fancy about this one, but it's the lyrics that really grab you. First off there's a giant Wizard Of Oz vibe flowing through the whole song (various spoken word quotes), but then there's the actual lyrics. "Buckle up straightjack / Insanity is such a drag / Jellybean thorazene / Transcendental jet lag / Sanity I ain't gona / Feeling like a piñata / Sucker punch, blow lunch / Motherload, pigeonhole / I'm feeling like I'm gonna explode / Yeah, I wanna shave my head and / I wanna be a Hare Krishna / Tattoo a dot right on my head / Heh, heh / And the prozac is my fixer / I am the living dead".
"(Dum, dum..can't find anything / Better to do...you drive me crazy) / Sitting on a castle / On the floor with Esmeralda / Waiting for the Geezer / Captain Crunch to come around / Feeling suicidal 'cause of certain situations / Hanging from the stairs too long / I think I'm coming down / It's time to Crash / (Losin' my mind...yeah, it's time to) / Doin' tons of colon blow / Stuffing it in every hole / Mile high, so am I / Watching Jimmy kiss the sky / Salle diner becomes a blur / With everybody jammin' / Republicans begin to sin / The batwings start a slamming / It's time to crash / (Losin' my mind...yeah, it's time to) / Crash / (Yeah, maybe it's a little late but it's time to) / Crash / You drive me crazy / You drive me crazy / You drive me crazy / Captain Billy Beemish / Put a lamb up on a rack / Thanks for coming Billy / And we hope you're comin' back / The castle will be waiting / For the next bangers and mash / Blanche and Marsha Reznick / Put their marmack with their hash / It's time to crash / Losin' my mind, losin' my mind..." All the lyrics suck up the first two and half minutes of the song Crash. After that it's another two minutes of crazy ass, jagged styled, totally insane music. This is one of those songs that should have been radio wildfire, but was more of a hidden gem instead.
To this day I'm still not sure where I stand with Kiss Your Past Good-bye. It sounds like a left over from one of the Geffen albums, but at the same time I don't entirely hate it. It's very stock, but it still has enough changes and variations to say that it's mildly enjoyable.
Only Aeromsmith can write a song about how much they love the colour of the inner side of vaginal lips, and make it into a radio single. Oh yeah, they also strip the music down to a very basic sound, almost Tom Petty like, and still manage to rule the Hard Rock radio stations with Pink. Also this is a really a fun tune.
Attitude Adjustment is another kind of basic song. But it's like a really good solid album filler, not just a left over song. I think the potential was there to make this a much heavier song than it is, but I think due to how people see Aerosmith it would have been a bad idea to heavy this one up too much. It could have easily turned into an almost Classic Metal sounding track.
Also right before I go into the last track on this album I think I should mention that I don't think there is any Aerosmith album that contains the word "fuck" as much as this album does. Not to say that it's all over the place, but when a band goes from barely ever cursing to using "Fuck" on almost every other song, you tend to notice these things.
The logest track on the enitre album is the last one. Fallen Angels clocks in at 8:19 on my player, even though it's listed as being only 8:16 on the album cover. This is a pretty typical Aeromsith Ballad. Think Angel from Permanent Vacation, meets Crazy/Amazing/Cryin', with the big grandiose production of the really annoying track from the Armegedon soundtrack, and that sort of describes it, at least until the 5:30 marker. Then the track starts to desolve into a nifty little instrumental section that sounds like it should have been a part of Taste Of India. It's actaully because of this section of the song that I don't entirely take a big steaming crap on this track. In all honesty I think they should have made the last two minutes or so it's own track, just so I could skip the crap and listen to the good stuff.
Basically, if you cut out Full Circle, Kiss Your Past Good-bye and the first five and a half minutes of Fallen Angels, you have a really good Aerosmith album with some great tracks and strong filler. With those three songs included you have some great tracks, with some strong filler, and some weak ass ballads. I would really like to see Aerosmith release an album without a ballad, which fifteen years later they have still yet to do.
However, with all that being said, I would suggest this album to anyone before I would suggest any of the Geffen albums, because this album is better. In fact if it were not for the Geffen years, I would have more respect for the ballads on this album than I honestly do.
Also as a little side note, if you have the original release of this CD you also have a very early prototype concept for Guitar Hero, that required you to tap along to the music. This was also eleven years before Guitar Hero Aerosmith was released.
8/10 - content
8/10 - production
7/10 - personal bias