[Album Review] “Just Push Play” – Aerosmith (original review)

Just Push Play - AerosmithAlbum Title: Just Push Play
Artist: Aerosmith
Year: 2001
Running Time: 53m 44s

Track listing: 1 Beyond Beautiful; 2 Just Push Play; 3 Jaded; 4 Fly Away From Here; 5 Trip Hoppin’; 6 Sunshine; 7 Under My Skin; 8 Luv Lies; 9 Outta Your Head; 10 Drop Dead Gorgeous; 11 Light Inside; 12 Avant Garden; 13 Face

I’ve blabbed on before about the lack of respect that Aerosmith receive for their achievements in the last 30 years. They are being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this month, and have also just been certified as the tenth best selling artist of all time, with 60m albums sold world-wide. An amazing achievement for a band who are scoffed at just far too much. Steven Tyler reckons there’s more money to be made and more fame to be had, and he has brought his band back for another stab at world domination, with their thirteenth studio album, “Just Push Play”. The seventies are well gone, the eighties are a distant memory, and the successful commercialism of the nineties has just disappeared around the corner. So it’s a brand new Aerosmith in the twenty-first century.

And they lay their cards on the table right away with the storming Led Zeppelin-inspired power of ‘Beyond Beautiful’. ‘This love that we’ve got is beyond beautiful’ screeches Tyler, who is on top form, while the rhythm section of Whitford, Kramer and Hamilton dig a deep groove that wraps itself around the lyrics in a faultless manner.

As if to reinforce the fact that things are a little different on this album, the industrial strains of rap-rocker ‘Just Push Play’ are enough to confirm it. The anti-censorship message of ‘just push play; fuckin A; they’re gonna bleep it anyway’ has created a probable concert-opener and definite concert favourite. The almost-Beck-styled rocker, ‘Trip Hoppin” hits the mark pretty well. Whitford and Perry clash wonderfully with Brad’s deep rhythm playing a perfect foil to Joe’s upbeat post-chorus lead lick. The song is very reminiscent of ‘Line Up’ from “Get a Grip”, horns and all.

‘Outta Your Head’ is manic, another semi-rap effort from Tyler complete with screaming guitars, industrial drum sound and numerous off-the-wall effects. Pretty cool, really and another triumph for the band’s fresh sound on this record.

‘Sunshine’ is a nice little groove – not quite ‘Pink’, but all the better for it probably. Tyler takes a familiar sounding tune and keeps it fresh with timely harmonies, subtle strings and a gentle mid-tempo acoustic verse. The only song that’s more infectious on the album is probably the polished pop/rock anthem ‘Jaded’, already a huge single on both sides of the Atlantic. Not a universal favourite of all fans, it demonstrates how well Aerosmith do this kind of tune – no one does it better.

‘Under My Skin’, sounding a little like Anthrax’s ‘This is not an Exit’, almost succeeds before the dull chorus ruins the whole thing. it’s got the dense guitar work (also ‘Kashmir’-sounding it should be said), patented harmonica, wonderful pre-chorus set up, but then falls flat. Some good guitar work from Perry during the solo, but it’s frankly a bit of a mess.

Aerosmith are never far away from the slower side of rock, and there’s three solid ballads on this record too. The string-laden ‘Fly Away From Here’ is touching and emotive on one hand, but powerful and determined on the other. Meanwhile ‘Luv Lies’ mixes the best bits of ‘What It Takes’ and Bon Jovi’s ‘Never Say Goodbye’, and produces a decent country ballad.

But ‘Avant Garden’ is one of the strongest tracks on the album. This melodic, European-style beauty should end up as a single release – it sees Aerosmith at their creative and song-writing best.

‘Light Inside’ is heavy and powerful and works very well despite the repetitive chorus, ‘Face’ is a pleasing acoustic folk tune, while Joe Perry’s standard vocal appearance on ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ disappoints despite it’s psychedelic power – they just forgot the hook. The hidden track is ‘Under My Skin (reprise)’, a 60 second electric-orchestral track.

So there you go, thirteen is lucky for some. Well it’s lucky for Aerosmith. A mixture of high-octane power-chords, subtle and beautiful string-arranged ballads, funky-off-the-wall rap/rock efforts, and a tinge of industrial nous for those who thought there was something missing. Have I left anything out?

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