[Album Review] "Aerosmith" – Aerosmith (original review)

Aerosmith - AerosmithAlbum Title: Aerosmith
Artist: Aerosmith
Year: 1973
Running Time: 35m 54s

Track listing: 1 Make It; 2 Somebody; 3 Dream On; 4 One Way Street; 5 Mama Kin; 6 Write Me (A Letter); 7 Movin’ Out; 8 Walkin’ The Dog

Since this is where the Aerosmith story begins, a brief history shall be relayed. Aerosmith were formed in 1970 with original guitarist, Ray Tabano, replaced by Brad Whitford soon after. In 1972 they clinched a remarkable five year/five album recording contract with Columbia.

This is the first of them and there is a lot of quality on show here and is certainly a good sign of things to come from the Boston Bad Boys. The top tracks on here are probably ‘Dream On’, ‘One Way Street’ and ‘Mama Kin’.

‘Dream On’ is a classic cut – a ballad with a haunting melody and message. ‘Everytime I look in the mirror; all these lines on my face getting clearer; the past is gone; it went by like dusk to dawn’. A rather strange state of mind for an energetic 25 year old but Tyler continued ‘dream on, dream until your dreams come true’. He clearly knows that life is short and that you got to keep aiming for the top; ‘you gotta lose to know how to win’.

‘One Way Street’ is a 7-minute epic complete with foot-tapping rhythm, funky harmonica, stunning cymbals and sombre piano that demonstrates the blues connection that Aerosmith have and ‘Mama Kin’ simplistically hones into view, struts its funky thang and hot-tails out of there like a naughty schoolchild.

‘Write Me’ has an irrepresible guitar/drum backbone all coated nicely with an attractive vocal performance from Steven Tyler and a stropping Tom Hamilton bassline while ‘Make It’ and ‘Somebody’ are decent slices of Aerosmith-style rock n roll.

‘Walkin’ the Dog’ is a cover version of the 1963 Rufus Thomas hit which apparently is about doing some yo yo trick. I wonder. ‘Movin’ Out’ is arguably the closest to rickety that we get here – a moody rocker where Tyler bemoans getting caught up in the urban sprawl. It is raw and reasonably inventive and is the only (original) track here that Tyler co-wrote; guitarist Joe Perry penning the notes with him.

All in all it is a pretty solid debut from the Bostonians who clearly are heavily influenced by bands like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. It is a little thin in spots but overall the star quality appears to be there.


[Movie Review] Black Sheep

Black SheepStarring: Chris Farley, David Spade, Gary Busey, Tim Matheson, Bruce McGill
Director: Penelope Spheeris
Genre: Comedy
Cert: 12
Released: 1996

“Black Sheep” doesn’t fair any better than the limited “Tommy Boy”, Spade and Farley’s opening movie salvo. They reprise identical roles here: Spade is the straight-laced, sardonic minder to Farley, an overweight (but amiable) idiot.

Al Donnelly (Tim Matheson, youthful and underused actor it must be said) is running for Governor of Washington. Up against him is Governor Tracy (Christing Ebersole) who is looking for a third term in office. The polls are swinging well in Donnelly’s favour until his lovable but cock-up-supreme brother Mike (Farley) drives a truck through half a dozen parking meters and into a theater wall. This is only the beginning of the oaf’s trail of destruction.

Al decides to appoint someone to look after his wayward brother; that someone comes in the form of campaign layabout Steve Dodds (Spade) and before you know it, it’s “Tommy Boy 2”. But it’s not just Mike getting himself into trouble, it soon becomes clear that the opposition are doing their best to smear their opponent.

The producer-director team that brought us “Waynes World” are in charge here but rather uncharacteristically, they have missed the mark completely. Relying mainly on slapstick gags involving Farley is funny to a point but soon become predictable. The quality only looks like rising when Spade goes into sarcasm mode but it is short and sweet.

There are some funny scenes; the bat in the cabin (just goes on for too long), stealing the police car, hanging out with the rasta dudes and the polling booth episode but overall it’s a string of obvious jokes and low-qaulity ones at that.

Look out for a great cameo from Gary Busey.


[Album Review] "Carry on up the Charts" – The Beautiful South

Carry on up the Charts -The Beautiful SouthAlbum Title: Carry On Up The Charts
Artist: Beautiful South
Year: 1994
Running Time: 51m 5s

Track listing: 1 Song For Whoever; 2 You Keep It All In; 3 I’ll Sail This Ship Alone; 4 A Little Time; 5 My Book; 6 Let Love Speak Up Itself; 7 Old Red Eyes Is Back; 8 We Are Each Other; 9 Bell Bottomed Tear; 10 36D; 11 Good As Gold (Stupid As Mud); 12 Everybody’s Talkin’; 13 Prettiest Eyes; 14 One Last Love Song

From the ashes of the silly but brilliant Housemartins came the less wacky Beautiful South. This collection tracks is from their inception in 1989 to their present day situation, as it was, in 1994. There have been a few additions and purges from the line up in that time but damned if I know what they were. The one constant figure I am sure of is the former ‘Martins lead singer, Paul Heaton.

First up is ‘Song For Whoever’, a subtle pop ballad featuring a delicate piano and bass backbone and it is followed by ‘You Keep It All In’, a jaunty tune which uses the unique presence of three different lead singers to create something that sounds a little different. My favourite tune on the album though is probably ‘A Little Time’, a lamentable vocal duel between two lovers, played by singers Dave Hemmingway and Briana Corrigan. The astute use of sax and piano is crucial to the tormented sound it portrays.

Top marks for coolness go to ‘My Book’ which sees Heaton grab the mic again in order to describe his life in a serious of unfortunatle situations and analogys. ‘This is my life and this is how it reads, a documentary that no one believes, Albert Steptoe in Gone With The Breeze, Mother played by Peter Beardsley, father by John Cleese’. It broods but is still fun and accessible.

‘Old Red Eyes is Back’ is another Heaton creation. Using just a piano backing for the verse, the chrous sees the rest of the band drop by and pick the tempo up rather well. A wonderful little tune. Hemmingway and Abbott takes over the vocals again for the beautiful ‘Bell Bottomed Tear’. Lyrically it’s a bit obtuse – ‘this is the way that I lay and this is the woman you laid'(!) – but it’s a really nice piano and guitar-based strain.

Speaking of lyrics, ’36D’ is hardly the most conventional track ever recorded – a plea to large-chested prostitutes to clean their act up! Good tune though with an infectious chorus. Strange though all the same! ‘Good As Gold’ was another sassy, bouncy ride through Tunesville which saw the debut of Jacqueline Abbott as lead vocalist and ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ was always a nice tune and the BS have done a good job here – melodic and sonorous..

‘We Are Each Other’, ‘Prettiest Eyes’ and ‘Sail This Ship Alone’ are decent cuts too but ‘One Last Love Song’ and ‘Let Love Speak Up Itself’ will probably bore you to bell-bottomed tears!

Paul Heaton and guitarist, David Rotheray co-wrote every original song on this disc and they have certainly mastered popular music and the secrets of perfect melody. This collection is a fun distraction for just about anybody.