Aerosmith, “1971: The Road Starts Hear”: review

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Before Steven Tyler and Joe Perry became the “Toxic Twins”, they were just intoxicated. On a recently discovered demo tape, which comes out with the sadly puny title The road begins, which Aerosmith cut in 1971 – two years before releasing their self-titled debut album – the band sounded loose and lubricated on embryonic versions of “Dream On”, “Mama Kin” and other songs they would play live. for the next 50 years. It’s both a sonogram of the group as companions and a testament to the vision they had at the start, the relentless determination to dream until the dream comes true – even if it sounds anything but dreamy. in the moment.

The band members were all in their late teens or early twenties when they first met in 1970. Tyler originally enlisted Perry, bassist Tom Hamilton, and drummer Joey. Kramer to support him on an audition tape for the Jeff Beck Group, who had recently split from Rod Stewart. They finally thought they made a pretty good racket together, nicknamed a nickname from the Sinclair Lewis novel, Black-smith, and pledged to become Boston’s largest bar group. It is this Aerosmith who plays on 1971: the road begins, a recording that reveals their roots better than their first LP.

While Tyler’s pouty lips would have earned the group comparisons to the Stones for most of their career, this record suggests the group was more obsessed with Beck, the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, artists who rose to prominence in the sequel to the Stones’ blues-rock rebirth. , making Aerosmith third wave contributors (and giving them the latitude to eventually create their own iconic sound). On this tape you can hear the carefree spirit of Aerosmith that would later influence bands like Mötley Crüe and Guns N ‘Roses, but none of the bright and powerful pop bursts that would define “Kiss my sassafras” / “Love in an Elevator. “- Aerosmith era in their returning years. This is the raw Aerosmith, the raw essence of what they would become.

After years of storage, the sound of the old band is cloudy and fuzzy, which actually adds to the smoky, bluesy appeal of the songs. From the start, when the band members sound like they’re having a Marvin Gaye-style “What’s Going On” party as Perry noodles on Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross”, before they all line up on Aerosmith’s “Someone” they sound more relaxed than ever on any studio recording. This tape is most likely a rehearsal tape, so they sound off guard. In the release liner notes, written by Rolling stone collaborating editor David Fricke, band members say they don’t even remember making that recording; it was just in a stack of tapes that Tyler had asked a friend to store. But it shows the chemistry they had back then, for better and for worse.

Most of the material here would become medium and deep cuts on the band’s early records, and the album versions almost always sound better, thanks to the sound from the recording studio allowing you to clearly hear Perry’s parts and by rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford in stereo. On every song here, Tyler sings in the kind of weird Kermit the Frog voice he used on the first album, before kissing his James Browny grater. And some of the songs, which were probably recorded just for the band, sound downright sloppy. On “Dream On”, the piano sounds out of tune, Perry slips a few notes and Tyler sounds like he’s looking for oxygen on the high notes. But in reverse, the song presents a long forgotten outro to the song; where the single studio ends like the fuzzy area theme, Perry and Whitford play an almost cheerful guitar line, giving it some historical significance. It just doesn’t match their subsequent caption.

The best here, however, comes when musicians simply go into bar-rock mode. Their cover of Rufus Thomas ‘blues number “Walkin’ the Dog” seems rowdy and dangerous here; even with Tyler’s flute solo, it feels more like the party anthem than it probably was before they professionalized it in the studio to Aerosmith. “Movin ‘Out” (the first song with a Tyler / Perry writing credit to do on an album) stinks Led Zeppelin III patchouli with its psychedelic guitars and the punchy rhythm of Kramer’s drums; the album version is boring compared to its weird phaser effect on Tyler’s voice and tighter playing.

“Somebody” and “Mama Kin” (two songs that sound almost exactly the same, except “Mama Kin” is better) show how Aerosmith was born with his signature groove intact. They probably learned this groove by playing blues songs like the two blues rarities in the release, “Reefer Headed Woman” and “Major Barbra”. It’s a feeling they would later lose their grip on. By the time they recorded “Reefer” for Night in the ruts, they seemed more jaded and as if they were following the moves (this time with heavy metal guitar distortion.) As for “Major Barbra”, they quickly ditched it, pasting versions on their Classics Live and Pandora’s box compositions; it’s a shame the version here doesn’t sound better as it’s a better performance than either of the official versions.

But because you can practically hear the dust infecting the tape heads, The road begins looks more like a curious fossil worthy of study than a lost gem. It’s not Aerosmith; that’s the Aerosmith promise. These are rude awakenings, not the dream come true.



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