Album Title: Done With Mirrors
Running Time: 35m 46s
Track listing: 1 Let the Music Do the Talking; 2 My Fist Your Face; 3 Shame on You; 4 The Reason a Dog; 5 Shela; 6 Gypsy Boots; 7 She’s on Fire; 8 The Hop; 9 Darkness
The 1985 Aerosmith release, and first under new lable Geffen, was “Done With Mirrors”. For fans this was a big album as it saw the return to the fold of original guitarists, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford. The two guitarists turned up at a Valentines Day gig in 1984 and were reunited on stage with the rest of the band. When it became clear that love was back in the air, Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay stepped aside again to allow Brad and Joe to reclaim their place in what used to be Americas greatest rock n roll band.
The album itself, while containing moments of promise, was a bit of an anti-climax and is without a doubt my least favourite. The only track that could slide comfortably into a greatest hits compilation is ‘My Fist Your Face’, an in-your-face rocker which shows that the rock solid attitude and sneering two-finger salute was still working fine. ‘Let the Music do the Talking’ was regarded as the relaunch track which stood for everything Aerosmith believed in. Nice sentiment, but somehow it just seems a little unimaginative at crucial moments. Musically, it smokes at times; killer harmonica and slide guitar effects but lyrically it is a real let-down.
‘Shame On You’ is a funky number featuring a Led Zep-style stop/start riff. It sounds good enough but the Aerosmith quality coating is missing. Some things don’t change though: ‘pulling down your knickers, who ya gonna spank’, squawks the near-40 year old Tyler. I hope your children aren’t listening, mate.
‘She’s on Fire’ is a Middle Eastern sounding rocker. Great slide work from Perry, strong back up from the rhythm section, a smouldering vocal performance from Tyler and a wonderfully composed middle-breakdown lift ‘She’s on Fire’ into quality status. ‘The Hop’ kicks the door down, sweeps everyone off the floor with its brash 80s-influenced boogie, turns with a defiant smirk and strolls out the backway. Nice stuff.
The rest of the album seems best to fit into the ‘half-baked’ category. The pedestrian paced, ‘The Reason a Dog’ always threatens to blow you away but maintains a disappointing mid-tempo beat throughout and’Shela’ reeks of the blues influences of the past but it never quite lifts its head off the pillow.
‘Gypsy Boots’ is a chaotic chase through the streets of Anywhere which despite a face-saving mid-section could do with a little more work and ‘Darkness’ is a budding classic that was carelessly left off the original release. This moody ballad (actually released as a single), benefits greatly from a dominant Hamilton bassline and features a number of tempo changes including a caffein-injected chorus and a screeching Perry solo that drowns out everything else in the vicinity.
The problem with the album is that it is so close to being definitive Aerosmith, it often sounds nothing like them. The missing ingredient is without a doubt polish and class, the same qualities that made “Rocks” and “Toys in the Attic” such gems.