Toys in the Attic (1975)


Out-and-out children of the '70s. A loud and raunchy band of rockers hell-bent on living the rock 'n' roll life to its ultimate consequences, swimming in a sea of alcohol and taking any illegal substance that they chanced to come across along the way. Halfway through the decade and with only two records to their name, the band had already earned themselves a reputation as the bad boys of rock but reckoned they still had something to say. Their only major problem was how to shake off their Rolling Stones flunkies image and blaze their own trail. Aerosmith's third attempt at fame met with great success, despite the fact that they had done nothing to curb their addictions. This was one of the many magical albums that were released in 1975, a year in which Pink Floyd Wished We Were Here, Led Zeppelin sprayed us with their, Physical Graffitti; Bob Dylan found Blood on the Tracks; Born Springsteen, declared himself Born to Run; Queen went to the Opera and Patti Smith rode out with her Horses. A tough year to make it big in!  

But make it big they most certainly did. And then some. The band exploded onto the music scene with their explicitly sexual rock songs and riotous revelry. Behaviour that scandalised the squeaky clean American middle class but worked wonders to keep them in the public spotlight. They weren't the first to mix such blatant unruliness with their music, but they were the first to make it all so much fun, guaranteeing their public the time of their lives in concert. They had learnt the basics from The New York Dolls and Mott the Hoople, but took the concept to a whole new level.

The band also knew how to dirty their sound just enough to give it a hint of metal without actually getting there. They still had an air of the Stones about them and continued to be disciples of the Rhythm and Blues sound. The same ambiguous sexuality that was a part of their image was soon to be found in their music - somewhere in between Led Zeppelin and their British alter egos. After much touring and two albums that had received a lukewarm reception, Toys in the Attic proved to be the magic formula they were looking for: it sounded dirty, but it smelled clean.

was (and is) a two-man band. Steven Tyler made it clear that he was no Mick Jagger rip-off and showed himself to be a master of the ballads, able to melt the coldest of hearts with his dulcet tones, even if they were combined with a seemingly never-ending stream of obscenities. These were the golden days before the drugs took their toll and they could get through a set without anybody collapsing on stage. Behind him, or to be more precise, rubbing shoulders with him, was Joe Perry, in control of the musical proceedings with his legendary guitar riffs such as those hammered out in Walk this Way and Sweet Emotion - two songs which have now earned themselves R'n'R anthem status. Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton have always been there to back them up (in all senses of the expression), making sure that everything goes along smoothly, faithfully keeping up with the antics of their two charismatic leaders.

Some of the songs in Toys in the Attic are today revered as classic rock - Big ten Inch Record and No more No more being fine examples. Things don't really get heavy until Round and Round, almost at the end of the album. Perhaps the quintessential essence of Aerosmith, that crazy mix that kept them flying high in the upper echelons of rockdom until not so long ago, is to be found in the album's title track, snappy and playful, with Perry strutting his stuff from the very first chord.