[Album Review] “Get a Grip” – Aerosmith (original review)

Get a Grip - AerosmithAlbum Title: Get a Grip
Artist: Aerosmith
Year: 1993
Running Time: 65m 35s

Track listing: 1 Intro; 2 Eat the Rich; 3 Get a Grip; 4 Fever; 5 Livin’ on the Edge; 6 Flesh; 7 Walk on Down; 8 Shut Up and Dance; 9 Cryin’; 10 Gotta Love It; 11 Crazy; 12 Line Up; 13 Can’t Stop Messin’; 14 Amazing; 15 Boogie Man

There was an unprecedented four year gap between the release of previous album, “Pump”, and the latest Aerosmith disc, “Get a Grip”. This was the last studio album recorded for Geffen and Aerosmith knew that they had reached the top of their popularity at this point. Amazingly this album was to push them even further in the estimation of the world’s rock fans. This album was a mix of polished rockers and accomplished ballads but somehow the archetypical swagger that is present on many Aerosmith albums, was missing.

There were several huge worldwide hits. ‘Cryin’ was a top notch blues-ballad that was well served by a beautiful organ backing, trademark harmonica, perfected harmonies, some tasty Joe Perry guitar licks and a rousing post-chorus horn-propelled section. An absolute winner.

‘Livin’ on the Edge’, the story of a world on the brink, was another big hit. Steven Tyler felt that there was ‘something wrong with the world today’, ‘there was meltdown in the sky’. Strangely interpreted as a dark power-ballad, ‘Livin on the Edge’ struts brilliantly with penetrating edgy guitar performances from Brad Whitford and Perry and a slowly-descending finale that is soaked in tension and just maybe, reluctant resignation.

The best song on the album is the fantastic ‘Amazing’ which was marred by the recording of a totally unrelated video featuring teen-idol, Alicia Silverstone (who also appeared in the ‘Cryin’ and ‘Crazy’ videos – a collection which was dubbed the ‘Cryin Trilogy’). ‘Amazing’ is the story of Tyler’s climb from the pharmecutical wreckage to the ultimate moment of sobriety. ‘I kept the right ones out and let the wrong ones in’, laments Tyler. Because it is such a personal lyric, the imagery it creates is possibly unparalleled by the band; ‘When I lost my grip and I hit the floor, yeah I thought I could leave but couldn’t get out the door’, admits the lead singer who then recalls the gravity of the situation with the band: ‘That one last shot, a permanent vactaion, and how high can you fly with broken wings’. The first bit of the lyric is a reference to the career-saving album, the latter being a refernece to the band’s famous ‘wings’ logo. Listen to this song with your eyes closed.

Other tracks released as singles were ‘Shut Up and Dance’, ‘Crazy’ and ‘Eat the Rich’. The first was a formulaic slice of pop-rock, the second a country ballad similar to ‘What it Takes’ but not in the same quality circle and the latter a more abrasive rocker featuring some anarchic solo work from Joe Perry.

Elsewhere on the album, there are some cool cuts. ‘Can’t Stop Messin’ is a slit-eyed, down-and-dirty rocker with an effective Brad Whitford/Perry duel in the mid-section, ‘Fever’ boogies in for a funky four minutes and ‘Line Up’ is a mid-tempo, brass-injected groove co-written with Lenny Kravitz and home to a super-cool vocal finale that really rocks.

The rest of the album is either ‘take it or leave it’ or downright forgettable. ‘Get a Grip’ is a mediocre funk effort that entertains to a minimum, ‘Flesh’ is an odd, rather tuneless song whose only saving grace is the slowly descending chorus and ‘Gotta Love It’ is almost laborious in execution but is musically very competent.

‘Walk on Down’ sees Joe Perry grabbing the mic again only to be ‘average’ again. The song itself is not that bad but Perry just doesn’t shine as a vocalist or as a solo songwriter; his roots are deep in straight-forward rock n roll.

So “Get a Grip” was a multi platinum seller and a good album to boot but the commercial attraction and natural progression of maturity has blunted the band’s gritty appeal of the past.


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