[Album Review] “Pump” – Aerosmith (original review)

Pump - AerosmithAlbum Title: Pump
Artist: Aerosmith
Year: 1989
Running Time: 47m 44s

Track listing: 1 Young Lust; 2 F.I.N.E.; 3 Love in an Elevator; 4 Monkey on my Back; 5 Janie’s Got a Gun; 6 The Other Side; 7 My Girl; 8 Don’t Get Mad, Get Even; 9 Voodoo Medicine Man; 10 What It Takes

When you are as long in the tooth as Aerosmith are, there comes a time when you have to move on and sing about different topics of interest. After all the sexual innuendo and saucy carry-on had to end by 1989, right? Erm, no.

And if you were ever in any doubt, within 30 seconds of the start of the ablum, ‘Young Lust’ sets you straight: ‘Young lust, happy just to be in lust, never have to eat no dust…sometimes you need it so bad, it’s enough to drive a young girl mad, so watcha gonna do about it…little bit nasty, you look a little sleazy, don’t get any on you….’. The track is a guitar-driven rocker that launches from one seedy escapade to the next with Joey Kramer pumping as fast as, well, a young lustful couple might.

Before you know it, ‘F.I.N.E.’ slides in to view on an ascending Joe Perry riff. Another energy-sapping beauty with wonderful powerful riffs, a devestatingly cohesive rhythm section and superlative vocal performance from Tyler. An ingenious mid-section changes the direction slightly to exceptional effect.

The first half of “Pump” is completed with three more gems. ‘Love in an Elevator’ was a huge hit and is as close to the commercial prowess of “Permanent Vacation” that “Pump” gets. Basist Tom Hamilton gives a commanding performance as does Joe Perry who screeches solo after solo in an aggressive yet elegant style.

Nearly left off the album, ‘Monkey on my Back’ is the tale of singer Steven Tyler’s drug addiction through the 70s and 80s. ‘The fortune teller looked into my eyeballs’, recounts Tyler. He continues with ‘her’ message: ‘you best believe it, you ain’t going nowhere, unless you get that monkey off your back’. Tyler guides you through his hell as he says: ‘I made believe the devil made me do it, I was the evil leader of the pack, you best believe I had it all and then I blew it, feet of that fucking monkey off my back’. Absolutely astonishing performance from Tyler who drags the rest of the band through his lurid experiences too. Finally, the track that was to become an all-time classic, ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’, is the emotive and vivid story of a young girl who got revenge on her abusing father by shooting him dead.

The second half is more derivative but starts on familiar territory with the brassy and melodic ‘The Other Side’ which is likeable if a little bit ‘rock-by-numbers’. ‘My Girl’ is a novelty tune which pays homage to British pop of the 60s. Nice drum conmbinations from Kramer and some swinging guitar notes from Perry and Brad Whitford.

For those who miss the blues, you can always rely on one band. ‘Don’t Get Mad, Get Even’ is a sometimes moody, sometimes chaotic blues rocker. Lyrically it’s a delight with Tyler using the technique that I can only best describe as ‘irnoic’ or perhaps ‘conflictive’: ‘you know your head is empty, but there’s something on your mind; when pleasure that is shallow causes tremors through the deep, you be dustin’ with the devil while he sweeps you off your feet’.

‘Voodoo Medicine Man’ is a themed-rocker which is as close to the heavy ‘Round and Round’ from “Toys in the Attic” as Aerosmith have managed. Hamilton and Whitford work in tandem as the band trudge through the heavy vegitation and deep rivers of the Amazon jungle. A rather brilliant piece of work.

But an even more brilliant piece of work is the emotional country-ballad, ‘What it Takes’. Appropriate accordion, delicate piano, heart-tugging lyrics and fervent backing harmonies render it Tyler’s best love song.

“Pump” does in the 90s what “Rocks” did in the 70s and in many ways, like “Rocks”, it should be perceived as a showcase for all that is good about Aerosmith.

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