Album Title: Night in the Ruts
Running Time: 35m 46s
Track listing: 1 No Surprise; 2 Chiquita; 3 Remember (Walking in the Sand); 4 Cheese Cake; 5 Three Mile Smile; 6 Reefer Head Woman; 7 Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy); 8 Think About It; 9 Mia
At this point, Aerosmith have to take the loss of influential guitarist, Joe Perry, on the chin. The master string manipulator claimed to have had enough of Steven Tyler and decided to take his beleagured ass elsewhere. Accomplished guitarist, Jimmy Crespo, filled the gap for the final recording of this album but he must be wondering why. The rumours of serious drug abuse and alcoholism are rife and it certainly shows on this record.
However, Perry did leave some strong material behind and the best stuff on this disc has to be credited to him – there is just so little of it.
‘Chiquita’ lies on a remarkable Perry riff, a head-banging, twisting melody, a great performance from Brad Whitford and a vibrant horns section to lift it up with the best of them. Then consider the excellece of the album opener, ‘No Surprise’, an autobiographical rocker with an edgy, persecuted feel but still enough fun to make you boogie.
The other original material on this album is worthy too. ‘Mia’ is an ode to Tyler’s newly-born daughter and is a dark, evocative love song that swirls around a lone piano refrain. It’s closing, a repeated low keyboard note, is ghostly and ponderous. ‘Cheese Cake’ is another astonishingly authoritive Perry riff which is suplemeted beautifully by Whitford, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton who combine to create a bluesy backbone that is in perfect time.
‘Three Mile Smile’ is a tolerable funky jam which is a welcome diversion on an album that is guitar heavy for the most part and ‘Bone to Bone’ is unleashed to woo you with its ‘wah wah’ guitar and a consistent rhythm that is pure class. Damn, it woo’s you.
Then God made cover versions. The good original material was thin on the ground and Aerosmith were forced into trying some mediocre covers. ‘Think About It’ is the tuneless Yardbirds hit, ‘Remember (Walking in the Sand)’ is a painful re-working from soul divas, The Shangri-La’s and ‘Reefer Head Woman’ is a harmonica-drenched 1945 blues number which just succeeds in being dull and probably only made it on the album because Tyler could sing it while half asleep.
Not a particularly strong record and definitely, to use a cliche, a tale of two halves. The original stuff is powerful and raw but the covers are totally out of place. Perhaps they should have just made this an EP.