Aerosmith – Music from Another Dimension (2012)

I think it speaks volumes that after hearing a few advance tracks, I had this record in hand for three days before I ever listened to it. You see, I’m an Aerosmith fanboy in the worst way. My 11th commandment, once upon a time, was “thou shalt have no rock band over Aerosmith.” I’ve waited on a store to open to buy a new Aerosmith record. At one point, I probably had a different Aerosmith T-shirt for every day of the week. In high school, I was routinely late for school if Aerosmith were on MTV or the radio because I wouldn’t leave until the song was over. I got in fights with people who had the audacity to say Aerosmith sucks.

Truth is, though, Music from Another Dimension kinda sucks.

I was hoping for the revitalized Aerosmith. Jack Douglas, producer of the band’s best records, was back on board. They’d had 11 years to write it. I’d hoped the swagger would be back. At times there are flashes of it, but more often than not, it sounds like the same overproduced commercial claptrap they’ve been trotting out for a long, long time.

Let’s start with the song that, for some reason, they chose to introduce the album with – “Legendary Child.” It’s like an amalgamation of everything the band’s done wrong since its reunion in the 1980s. It’s shiny, glitzy, super-slick and lacks any of the soul, blues or balls of their 1970s work. To me, it sounds like a reject from the Get a Grip sessions, and I consider that the band’s worst record, period – even worse than the Joe Perry-less Rock in a Hard Place or the electronic mess that was Just Push Play.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Aerosmith’s official web site was hacked, but an unsigned band looking for attention. They got it from Steven Tyler, who threatened to kick their ass.]

The first real sign of life we get is fifth track “Out Go the Lights,” which opens with a slinky, bluesy groove that’s most definitely in the band’s classic wheelhouse with some of that swagger and the expected sleazy lyrics. There are some cool female backing vocals, and it’s sounding like maybe there might be something to this record after all. But, of course, Steven Tyler can’t resist that big, glammy, squeaky clean chorus that starts about a minute and a half in and pulls the listener out of that zone. Still, it’s the best song here.

The next really good number we run into is “Street Jesus,” which opens with a tasty blues rock groove with Tyler matching Perry’s guitar riff vocally. That turns into a full-on “Rats in the Cellar” style rocker – or probably as close as they can get to it these days. Dirty up the production a little bit and you might have something approaching one of their 1970s tunes, but like most of this album, and much of the work in the band’s modern era, all of the rawness is polished out of it. Even though it’s a really good song, it ends up sounding just a little sterile instead of leaving you on the edge of your seat like the aforementioned “Rats in the Cellar.”

Interestingly the two Perry songs, usually just obligatory nods to the guitarist’s desire to sing, are among the better tunes on this one. They’re about the only songs that have a little roughness to them. “Freedom Fighter” makes an attempt to change the mood with a serious topic. It’s a 1980s-influenced rocker that reminds me just a little bit of some of Neil Young’s harder rocking stuff. But then you’ve got the fact that it’s about a cause du jour (Joseph Kony) and features backing vocals by Johnny Depp. “Something” opens with a big organ flourish and has much more bluesy grit than found on the rest of the record. Perry’s licks are down and dirty and his vocals are not impeccably polished like Tyler ’s, and by the end of it, I’m wondering if I wouldn’t rather have a Joe Perry solo record.

While there are a few really bad songs, for the most part Music from Another Dimension, is a middle-of-the-road, vanilla affair. There’s nothing particularly wrong with songs like “Luv XXX” or “Oh Yeah.” They’re even enjoyable in the right frame of mind. But there’s nothing particularly interesting about them, either. They sound a bit like a cross between Get a Grip and Just Push Play. “Beautiful,” despite a little stomp at the start, loses me a on Tyler’s rap-like verse delivery, and the chorus reminds me just a little too much of Just Push Play’s “Beyond Beautiful.” The repetitive refrain of “Lover Alot” has worn out its welcome by the time the song really gets started, and it’s not anything special after that.

And could we squeeze in another ballad somewhere? What are there, like eight on this record? And trust me, there’s nothing that remotely approaches “Dream On,” “Seasons of Wither” or “Home Tonight.” The only one that’s even moderately interesting is album closer “Another Last Goodbye.” The song mixes a piano line that’s a shameless nod to “Dream On” with some orchestral sounds and Beatles influence. Tyler does have some nice falsetto pieces, though he occasionally goes over the top as he’s wont to do, and there are at least shades of their ’70s selves here and there in it. The rest of the ballads are just pretty generic versions of the ones they’ve been doing for the last 25 years or so. I was particularly disappointed with “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You,” which features Carrie Underwood, because I’ve heard she and Tyler do a few rockers where they sounded pretty good together.

Far from a reinvention, Music from Another Dimension is more of a rehashing of ideas and themes from some of the band’s weakest records. Of the 15 tracks, only a couple are really good, a couple more at least interesting, and the rest, sadly, pretty much what I expected. It’s an OK record, but won’t make my year-end list, and that’s saying something when it comes to me and Aerosmith. Maybe the next 11 years will bring something better.

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Music From Another DimensionAerosmith\'s Greatest HitsToys in the AtticRocks

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • Mark Saleski

    wow! interesting that you think Get A Grip is worse than Just Push Play, which i found so overproduced as to be completely unlistenable.

    i remember kind of liking Get A Grip, though honestly…the only song i can recall from it is “Eat The Rich,” which i really like.

    • Fred Phillips

      The only reason I like Just Push Play a little better than Get a Grip is that they at least tried to do something different with it. It didn’t work, but they tried. Get a Grip has its moments — “Eat the Rich,” “Fever” — but most of the record is pretty bland. So it’s really just a choice of bad, but interesting, over bland. I haven’t listened to either one in a long, long time.

  • Jens Maggi

    Totally agree with you ! I was expecting a kick a$$ come back like Metallica did with “death magnetic” or Anthrax with “Worship Music”. Beeing long time fan of aerosmith i was really dissapointed..
    15 songs and half of it ballads !! I dont have anything against ballads as long as the sound like dream on or janie´s got a gun. But yes man. You nailed it with this review. I really hope they find themselves in the next years and we can expect some new material

  • reap

    I only heard the songs available from Rolling Stone so I can’t judge the whole album, but I was pleasantly surprised by some of the songs. This coming from someone who thought the last great album was Pump. Anyway, listening to the songs though I was reminded of older Aerosmith/Joe Perry Project. Really love that song “Closer” – reminded me of “You See Me Crying”.

  • Fred Phillips

    Pump is definitely the top shelf of their post-70s albums, but I also really like Nine Lives and Honkin’ on Bobo (though, as a covers collection, I’m not sure it really counts).
    I might like “Closer” a little better in a different setting. I hear a little bit of something early in the song, but then it kind of veers into their usual ballad, and I just have ballad overload on this record. As a whole, this one reminds me a lot of Get a Grip, and that’s not a good thing.
    The overproduction really doesn’t help the songs at all. If there were a little more grit and grime in the mix, I think it would improve some of the rockers, but it’s very safe and sterile sounding to me.

  • Hartmut Moewius

    This review is the best i could find at the web. It says all! As a veteran listener of this band i expected some back to the blues Hard Rock based tunes!
    Jack Douglas is back on board, the band has written many songs by themselves, they were playin together live in the studio…
    So, i don’t wanna repeat what Fred is sayin’, he’s so right!
    How could this band left their roots over all the years?
    At least NOW it was time bout showin their nuts.
    Is this the same band which has recorded ‘GYW’, ‘TOYS’, ROCKS’..
    Their lyric and song titles gettin worse. Just singin bout love and relationships, bla bla bla.
    This band had such great song titles as Lick and a Promise, Uncle Salty, Toys in the Attic, Rats…..
    Live on stage they’re still kickin!
    Funny is, on their DVD from MFAD you can listen to songs as Rats, Train, Same old song…
    completely different music! Not the same band! All the classic timeless Blues based Hard Rock tunes and songs from our beloved band.
    I could cry how far they’re from their roots.
    Some nice ideas, almost no good songs. No kickin at all!
    That’s it!

  • Scott Stone

    As much as I hate to say it, Aerosmith has lost it plain and simple. How can this be the same band who penned “Get Your Wings”, Toys and Rocks”. Granted even Pump is better than this drivel. In other words I think it’s safe to say the band has since long lost it’s musical creativity, integrity, talent, ambition, and intelligence to craft great rock tunes. Instead they traded their balls and what they once had for the almighty pop dollar. Cry sellout if there ever was one. They can’t even sit down as a band and write an album without outside influences. Van Halen and Metallica still write their own songs. Not even good ol Jack Douglas can save them anymore, he was the last resort. Lack of cohesion to say the least. Aerosmith is done and they are just tarnishing their legacy at this point. Hey Fred, here is some friendly advice, let them go and start listening to some intelligent rock and roll. Try Soundgarden for starters! King Animal is where it’s at.

  • Fred Phillips

    Scott,

    Looking forward to hearing King Animal in its entirety. Haven’t been overly impressed with the few tunes I’ve heard off of it so far, though. I’m missing the heaviness of Badmotorfinger and Chris Cornell’s wailing away. Reserving judgment until I hear the whole thing, though.

    • Scott Stone

      Hi Fred,

      Thanks for the reply. I think you will be pleasantly surprised once you hear King Animal in it’s entirety. Hint: Live To Rise and Been Away Too Long do not represent this album in any way shape or form. Those songs are average, Live To Rise being a standalone for a film. Been Away Too Long works best in the context of the album as a whole. It’s like they took the best elements of all their albums in the past and rolled it into one here. Diversity is where it’s at with this band. Non-State Actor is a badass tune in my opinion. The musicianship is incredible. Badmotorfinger is great but I think Superunknown is the band’s masterpiece. Down on the Upside is excellent too.

  • Scott Stone

    I forgot to add that I think Soundgarden’s songwriting and musicianship are incredible because they have the ability to write songs in odd time signatures with catchy hooks, melodies, psyhedelic elements, and man that rhythm section is insane. They may not be accessible or suitable to everyone’s taste but that’s how I see it.

    http://www.artistdirect.com/entertainment-news/article/soundgarden-king-animal-album-review-5-out-of-5-stars/10297362

    http://www.artistdirect.com/entertainment-news/article/feature-why-soundgarden-will-save-rock-n-roll-again-with-king-animal/10276018

  • Harry Regina

    “Rock in a Hard Place” is a masterpiece — (at least an aero-masterpiece) — and would have made a great concert set from beginning to end –a raw, rawdy, unihibited, subdued, drug-induced slice off ass-ripping hard rock with a bit of vaudiville thrown in at the end.

  • JC Mosquito

    Another ho-hum Aerosmith recording? Y’know, Rocks is one of the best hard rock albums of all time. As well, I’ve said many times before, side one of Rocks might even be the best Side One from the era of the two sided 12″ LP (Deep Purple In Rock’s side one might have to settle for the best British hard rock side one).

    Yeah – I dunno. Another year, another band turns Old Age Stonesier.

  • Perplexio

    Aerosmith lost me in the early 90s with all those glossy songs that sounded like carbon copies of one another (Cryin’, Amazing, etc. etc.) That being said, at the time, I did like the music videos of those songs with Alicia Silverstone

  • Fred in NH

    I was a pretty huge aerosmith fanboy in the 80s. I haven’t liked most of the stuff that came after done with mirrors. I think this new album has a lot of problems. But. . . . . I think it’s a lot better than most are rating it. There are at least 3 songs that I would rank up there with their best. Luv xxx – first 3 minutes are just ok, last 3 minutes are up there with any 3 minutes they’ve recorded. Blazing fast verses, a great solo, and the whole band in high gear. Street Jesus – same thing except it’s only the first minute that slows things down. Rocks with better production values. Most of the song is vintage aerosmith. Lover alot is another great song, but this one is good from start to finish with great lyrics – “is that your girl in the lilly white dress? why is she so f-ing passive agress?” And legendary child sounds like an up-to-date version of the band rocking out and dumping their whole bag of tricks out.

    If you look at the reviews the music press gave toys in the attic and rocks when they came out they weren’t too good. I think this album is falling victim to the fact that aerosmith just can’t get no respect. It’s too bad that their fans seem to believe the bad reviews.

  • JC Mosquito

    There’s an interesting parallel developing here between The Stones and Aerosmith. Both bands have spent the latter parts of their careers turning out albums with a handful of good moments surrounded by a lot of filler.

    [Sorry – a stray thought here – the Carrie Underwood duet just came on, and I knew this was it in the first six seconds – didn’t even need a track list to recognize Aeroschlock when it appears as regularly as it has over the last 20 years.]

    “Street Jesus” or “Doom and Gloom” – at least the Stones slipped their decent modern day number onto a greatest hits package; after all, in pop music, a single song can sell an album regardless of the quality of the supporting cuts, and a whole bunch of singles can establish a level of greatness of a different sort. However, in rock and roll, the assumption is that an album ought to challenge an audience to respond emotionally and intellectually to the entire package, and not just find excuses to ignore it.

    Spot on review, Mr. Phillips.

  • Fred Phillips

    You won’t find a much bigger Aerosmith fan than me, and I didn’t read any other reviews of this record before writing mine. I try to avoid it, especially with bigger releases, because I don’t want them to color my opinion on the album.

    I was only four when Rocks came out, so it was a few years before I heard it. ;) But I know the first time that I heard it, it completely blew me away start to finish. Definitely not the case with this record or many of their post-70s albums, though I do think that a few of those latter-day albums have gotten a bad rap.

    This one certainly has its moments, and I agree almost completely on “Street Jesus,” only difference being I actually like the part at the beginning, too. But there’s nothing here, to my ears, that stands with a Rocks, Get Your Wings or the self-titled. “Street Jesus” comes closest, but then I put on “Rats in the Cellar,” and I hear worlds of difference.

    Yeah, there are a few good songs here (though we disagree a bit over which ones they are), with the obligatory radio play ballads and a lot of filler. I agree with JC’s point. I want a rock album that grabs me by the throat from start to finish, like most of those 70s records, not one where I rip four songs to my hard drive and leave the rest to collect dust on the CD shelf. That’s what happened here.

  • JC Mosquito

    Y’know – I liked Night in the Ruts and Done with Mirrors. I don’t know why those two always get the short end of the stick.

  • Fred Phillips

    Night in the Ruts has really grown on me over the years. I used to hate it, but now I think it’s a pretty good record. Certainly not my favorite, but good. I’ve always felt that Done With Mirrors gets the shaft. Granted, it’s not an outstanding album, but it’s much better than it’s given credit for being.

    As far as the post-70s records go, they’re up and down for me. Permanent Vacation isn’t bad. The presence of “Hangman Jury” alone brings it up a notch. Pump, I think, is far and away the best. I wouldn’t care if I never heard Get a Grip again. That’s where the over-commercialization hit new heights. I think Nine Lives is a really good record, underrated. Just Push Play is kind of a mess. Honkin’ On Bobo, again, I love, though the weakest song on it is the only original. This one’s back to very mediocre.

  • Arthur

    If this is what they are going to put out, please stop it! Keep touring, but don’t put something like this out. You couldn’t need the money.