Newt's Coronavinyl Countdown, Day Two: Aerosmith--Rock in a Hard Place

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      Newt's Coronavinyl Countdown is a daily blog wherein veteran Georgia Straight rock writer Steve Newton works through his LP collection--alphabetized according to band name, from AC/DC to ZZ Top--hoping to connect with fellow music-lovers who are also social distancing during COVID-19. Today's selection is Aerosmith's Rock in a Hard Place.

      “If you grew up in the ’70s you liked Aerosmith.” That’s what Peter Buck of R.E.M. wrote in the liner notes to his band’s version of Aerosmith’s “Toys in the Attic,” and Buck knows of which he speaks.

      I grew up in the '70s and I loved Aerosmith. My older sister could have her Rolling Stones--these bad boys from Boston were all mine.

      I first got into the band big-time when their second album, Get Your Wings, came out in March of the Year of Our Lord, 1974. I was 16 years old and as such the band's raggedy brand of riff-riddled rock was perfect for my rebellious mindset at the time.

      I was particularly impressed by the wailing guitar solos on the old chestnut "Train Kept a Rollin", although I had no idea it was actually the dynamic six-string duo of hired guns Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner (see Lou Reed's Rock 'n' Roll Animal) providing the wicked licks. I always pictured Joe Perry doing the damage as I played along on the then-popular craze known as "air guitar".

      Aerosmith were undoubtedly one of my fave bands of the time, and they kept enthralling me with albums like Toys in the AtticRocks, and Draw the Line. When the band was touring behind the Rocks album of 1976 some high school buddies and I made what seemed like the distant trek to Seattle to see them play the Kingdome, with Jeff Beck and Starz opening up.

      Yes, Jeff Beck.

      It was cool how many in the audience thought he was paying homage to the headliners when he played a few bars of "Train Kept a Rollin", a concert fave from his days with the Yardbirds.

      I bought an Official Tour Program, which I later got signed by all five members years later when I became a hot-shot rock journalist in the '80s. 

      But before then something crazy happened in Aeroworld. Do you know what it was? I'll give you a couple of seconds to think about it.

      Time's up: Joe Perry left the band. And Brad Whitford too.

      Which brings us to today's installment of Newt's Coronavinyl Countdown. 

      In 1982 Aerosmith released Rock in a Hard Place, with new lead-guitarist Jimmy Crespo taking over from Joe Perry. (Rhythm guitarist Rick Dufay is also named on the album credits, but apparently he didn't play at all.) 

      RIAHP wasn't no Get Your Wings. It wasn't no Draw the Line, either. But it did include some pretty catchy tunes. I especially liked "Bitches Brew" and "Lightning Strikes".

      In January of '83 I interviewed Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton for the Georgia Straight and asked him how the guitar-playing style of Crespo differed from that of Joe Perry. (I was so psyched about talking to the guy who created the bass lick from "Sweet Emotion" that I taped the story to the back of my promo copy of the album (which had DEMONSTRATION: NOT FOR SALE stamped on it, as if), alongside my backstage pass from Perryscope Concert Productions. Anybody remember Perryscope?

      "Jimmy is a little more calculated and polished," Hamilton said. "One of the things that was great about Joe and not so good about him was that he would just go for it, for whatever came into his head. And if the idea to stop playing was in his head he would do that too."

      Oh shnap! No he di'int!

      Oh yes he did. But as everybody knows, the original Aerosmith members put their differences behind them and got back together in Vancouver four years later to record the "comeback" album Permanent Vacation with Bruce Fairbairn.

      All was well in Aeroworld again.

      At least until that whole "Amazing"/"Crazy"/"Cryin'" phase came along.

      Tune in again tomorrow when the gods of the alphabet cause Newt's Coronavinyl Countdown to land on another LP from my "A" section: The Alarm's Strength