Just Push Play
Some rock dinosaurs never die.
And that's a good thing!
Aerosmith's first album in four years, featuring the same lineup that played on its debut album in 1973, rocks better than many bands half their age. Unlike some of their recent efforts, this album doesn't have paint-by-numbers, hired-gun songwriters on its roster to guarantee hits. Just Push Play was written and produced entirely by members of the band, in collaboration with producers Mark Hudson and Marti Frederiksen.
Just Push Play opens with a grinding, full-blast bit of rock grit in "Beyond Beautiful" (which has vocalist Steven Tyler sounding almost like AC/DC in his growling verse delivery), and then slips into the album's title track anthem, an utterly infectious kitchen sink of scratches, guitar riffery, vocal shenanigans, references to "Walk This Way" and a chorus that you'll have to stop yourself from singing out loud in delicate company.
Not stopping to breathe, the band follows up this career highlight with one of its best ballads, the single "Jaded," which the band debuted in January at the American Music Awards. The band also gave the song early exposure it slipped it into a medley during the SuperBowl XXXV halftime show.
With 100 million albums sold over a career now spanning four decades, you might expect that Aerosmith would have slipped into the easy comfort of paper thin rock tracks and power ballads, as so many of its peers have. But while there are a couple of lighter anthems with big strings and keyboard backgrounds to soften the guitars on Just Push Play, (notably "Jaded," "Fly Away From Here" and "Avant Garden") for the most part, Joe Perry keeps his guitar in the air, leaping from crunch riff to saucy solo in deceivingly youthful abandon.
Not every song here is a winner ("Trip Hoppin'" and "Light Inside" get old easily), but they all show a rock powerhouse in full command of all the tricks to put together a solid rock album in the studio. Steven Tyler is still writing about the staple of rock 'n' roll — girls — be it the title character of "Drop Dead Gorgeous," or the fleeting pleasures of a one-night stand in "Sunshine." But Just Push Play also shows a band still willing to take some musical chances. "Outta Your Head," one of the disc's hardest and catchiest tracks, finds Tyler screeching out vocals so fast it's hard to keep up. Just Push Play is a welcome return from one of the giants of American rock. The title says it all. Buy it.
Turn up the volume.
Just push play.
New on the Shelves
Classic musical lovers can now pick up Columbia/Legacy restored editions of the 1956 cast recording of Bells Are Ringing with Judy Holliday and the 1967 London cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof with the singer that this musical made a star, Topol.
The revised Fiddler disc includes in its score the pop crossover hits "If I Were A Rich Man" and "Sunrise, Sunset," previously unreleased bonus tracks and early sketches, and a demo by the composers.
The Bells reissue includes the well-known songs "Just in Time" and "The Party's Over," along with rare publisher's demos played and sung by composer Jule Styne. Also on the shelves is a new soundtrack to an old musical. Columbia Records has just issued the soundtrack to the ABC adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific, featuring Glenn Close and Harry Connick, Jr. This post-WWII musical features the classics "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" and "Some Enchanted Evening."
The late Tim Buckley's career output is captured on Rhino Records' new Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology. The eclectic singer-songwriter put out nine albums between 1966 and his death in 1975, but never achieved pop acceptance.
His "Song To The Siren," however, was recorded by The Monkees and is included on this 34-song, double CD set in two versions (the first from his 1970 Starsailor album and the second from a live recording done in 1967 on the set of The Monkees' TV show. Avant collective This Mortal Coil also recorded the song on its first album in 1983.
If you missed Mardi Gras or want to bring some of its exotic gumbo flavor into your living room, Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys have just released their eighth album, Happytown, on Rounder Records. This is the real thing – accordions, fiddle, guitars and French vocals with a Cajun swamp rhythm.