Album title: Get Your Wings
Track Listing: 1. Same Old Song and Dance; 2. Lord of the Thighs; 3. Spaced; 4. Woman of the World; 5. SOS (Too Bad); 6. Train Kept a Rollin’; 7. Seasons of Wither; 8. Pandora’s Box
Running Time: 38m 6s
Units sold/certifications: 4 million worldwide [est.]/3x platinum (US)
Chart performance: #74 (US)
After the buzz created by their debut album the band kicked their follow-up off in style with the blues-stomp of “Same Old Song and Dance”. The story of a guy caught on a murder rap (“Coincidental murder/With nothing to show“), he faces a bad-ass judge (“With the judge’s constipation/Will go to his head/And his wife’s aggravation/Youll soon end up dead“) and incriminating evidence (“Gotcha with the cocaine/They found with your gun/No smooth face laywer/Could get ya undone“). Still performed today it’s one of their signature tunes three and a half decades on.
If their debut record was considered largely straight-forward (with perhaps the exception of “One Way Street”) then “Lord of the Thighs” threw in elements of prog-rock to confuse us all. A dirty guitar riff combines with raunchy lyrics (“I’m waitin for my girls, when you caught my eyes…I’m your man, child, lord of the thighs“) before leading into a hard-rock chorus (“you must have come here to find it/you got that look in your eyes“) and then a bubbling bass-driven bridge.
It takes a while to set the scene but “Spaced” eventually gets to describing a post-apocalyptic earth (“Fire and steel, earth unreal/Find another planet to stay/Papa died, Ma survived/Tellin’ me about her ordeal “). The lyrics are powerful in describing the feeling of loneliness (“And my soul I can not feel/’Cause they made me so unreal“) and hopelessness (“Spaced/Without a trace/ Waitin’ for the word to arrive/I’m the last man to survive“). Hugely underrated track.
“Woman of the World” is a middling mid-tempo rocker about a good-time girl who can’t be pinned down (“She might be gone tomorrow/Oh lordy what you gonna do?“). It jumps to life half-way through with some good advice (“Don’t save too much lovin’ for tomorrow/Get out all your lovin’ here tonight“) and does feature some of Steven Tyler’s best vocals. Interesting to hear them branch out and try different styles and it’s a decent track but arguably the weakest they had recorded to date.
If Woman of the World was a rest-hold then “S.O.S. (Too Bad)” is a bad-ass choke-slam. A punchy rocker about a “stagecoach lady” with an “hourglass body“, a hard-ass father (“My daddy was hard, his face was pretty scarred/From kickin’ ass and playin’ poker to win“) and possibly a femme-fatale (“My mama Katy/Chivalry was born at her feet…At night she put my daddy to sleep“). Lyrically it jumps around and like most of mid 70s Aerosmith, it’s hard to interpret but we do know that it’s “too bad, can’t get me none of that“.
First recorded in 1951, covered by The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin in the 60s, Aerosmith made this their own in the 70s. A mid-paced blues rocker, it tells the story of a couple who meet on a train and do nothing more than aim cursory glances at each other: “Well on a train I met a dame/She rather handsome we kinda looked the same…I’m in heat I’m in love/But I just couldn’t tell her so“. Although it sounds like it’s recorded live on the album, producer Jack Douglas talked them out of doing that and they simply overdubbed some crowd sounds on the studio recording.
As the crowd overdub slowly fades, a whistling wind introduces “Seasons of Wither”, arguably Steven Tyler’s greatest masterpiece. Written in his basement during a cold Massachusetts winter and while battling a drug-induced depression, Tyler’s lyrical and vocal mastery envelopes you from the beginning. Using language like “Seasons of wither, holdin’ me in“, “woe is me”, “lose your mind“, “live on borrowed time” and “Heat of my candle show me the way” you get a feeling of finality about the singers life. Tyler certainly felt that way at the time. Musically it’s immense and stands the test of time.
Drummer Joey Kramer tries his hand at songwriting for the first time, showing he has the same knack for raunch as Tyler: “Every time Pandora come my way/I get high, can’t explain the sensation…Sweet Pandora/God like aura/Smellin’ like a flora/Open up your door for me…Mama crack a smile for me…Now I ain’t what you’d call a city slicker/Or claim to fame to be a slitty licker“. You get the idea. At least he knows he’s really walking dangerous ground: “To get it on I got to watch what I say/Or I’ll catch hell from the women’s liberation”. Musically it’s fun funk-rock but lacks a strong hook.
After a very strong debut album you wonder how they could have bettered it – but that they did. Home to several bona-fide classics (“Same Old Song and Dance”, “Train Kept a Rollin'”, “Seasons of Wither”), this album is a notch above “Aerosmith” due to more sophisticated music, excellent production and a little more “bounce”.