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Released: May 1976
Styles: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Arena Rock, Album Rock
Number Of Tracks: 9
With Rocks, Aerosmith appeared to be indestructible, but this would not prove to be the case for long.
1MM, on november 12, 2008 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Aerosmith plows through a haze of illicit substances and road burn with unbridled creativity, determination, and label/management prodding, and cranks out what is not only their finest album, but one of the finest hard rock albums of the 1970's. Every now and then, a great band that has put out several great albums will hit one out of the park. Rather than having 2-3 or 4-5 great songs on an album, they'll have a collection of songs that have an energy to them, where listening to all the tracks reveals some kind of synergy, where you find yourself listening to the entire album. For Aerosmith, this was Rocks. Born in a haze of narcotics, alcohol, and road burn, the beginnings of Rocks found Aerosmith finally confident in their studio abilities. Following the hesitancy of the eponymous debut (featuring Dream On) and Get Your Wings and having cast off the dreaded 'red light butterflies' with Toys in the Attic, the band was pushed to creative heights with the help of producer Jack Douglas who was keen at capturing and bottling the studio madness at just the right time. Chemistry (pun intended) between band members was exceptional, in no small part from the realization that the struggles of the early years were rewarded with sales success and a growing fan base that never failed to turn out en masse as the Aeromachine criss-crossed the country. Toys in the Attic had pulled the band up on a pedestal, now it was time to set up permanent shop.
Born in an era blissfully free of genre cross-marketing and AOR in full swing, Aerosmith stuck to their strengths and harnessed their creative forces to came up with a collection of gutter-blues-hard rock gems. Outside writers and children's TV show appearances were mercifully a couple of rehabs away, and the band shared, cooperated, and progressed to make their most self-assured album yet.
01.Back In The Saddle (Tyler-Perry): the ominous drum beats signal at least one horse looking for a rider and an apocalypse, and when Perry hits the first crunching note on 6 string bass and Tyler cuts loose with a toe-curling shriek of 'baaaack', you immediately forget what bands Aerosmith should be compared to, instead, you think of what bands will compare to Aerosmith. A whip cracking, falsetto drenched middle section builds up to a roaring final chord, drenched in reverb.
02.Last Child (Tyler-Whitford): second guitarist Brad Whitford contributes a great, stuttering guitar lick that finds the band flirting with a Zep-stomp/funk feel while Tyler does a great pouty vocal that one really can't understand, but, because the words sounds like 'other' words, everyone can feel like they can understand what's going on. The self-pitying last line of 'just a punk in the streets' gives way to a fading police siren, and the crunching unpleasant reality that is the mood created by...
03.Rats In The Cellar - (Tyler-Perry): an ominous title and a blast furnace riff pick up the scared kid from Last Child and toss him into a swirling mosh pit of big city underbelly inhumanity. Tyler's chatter box lyric delivery and the snakey guitar lines of Perry and Whitford, combined with a driving rhythm section, create a frenzied, almost claustrophobic atmosphere. A final crescendo and drum roll brings the song to an arena-setting ending; the almost inaudible final hi-hat closing as the final chord fades out lets you know this was pure studio mayhem.
04.Combination (Perry): Perry's first solo composition and vocal showcases his unique chordal riffing style. A mid-tempo rocker that laments his lifestyle trappings (we all should have such problems), it has a unique ending section that builds up from a repetitive 4 measure motif that increases in intensity. Layered guitars, overlapping riffs, and a fantastic Joey Kramer crazed-Indian war drum pattern continue to build as guitars howl in punkish feedback. Just like living on fumes eventually comes crashing to end, so does the song: a final drum roll and a squeal from an amplifer(?) seemingly put out of its misery.
05.Sick As A Dog (Tyler-Hamilton): Band faithful like to see all their band members involved in contributing material, and following his well-received Sweet Emotion and Uncle Salty from Toys in the Attic, fans were happy to see Tom Hamilton's credit on this chordal, tempo-shifting number. In a great snapshot of the times (band camaraderie and studio technology) Hamilton plays rhythm guitar throughout, Perry plays bass up to the mid-section break (just drums and rhythm guitar) when he hands the bass to Tyler to finish the song. The song fades out with what sounds like a baby crying and a children's toy piano plunking some off-kilter notes.
06.Nobody's Fault (Tyler-Whitford): Brad Whitford continues his 'heavy' tradition as Nobody's Fault follows his Round and Round (from Toys in the Attic) with this early Sabbath-era sounding sludge rocker. A hard-core fan favorite, Nobody's Fault is Aerosmith's rare venture into heavy metal. Not really based on a riff, per se, it's saved from being a total Sabbath rip-off courtesy of Kramer's busy hi-hat work (take note of the absolutely thunderous bass drum sound on this track). Tyler screams about a situation so bad, he must be dreaming, but comes to the realization that he/we are victims of our own collective foolishness.
07.Get The Lead Out (Tyler-Perry): a rollicking extended guitar lick and a revisit to a a Last Child-like groove shows the band blowing off some steam with a classic Tyler vocal where he seems to be either a drill Sergeant lashing his bandmates or the audience into shape. Kramer's drumming really drives this number, the fade out sequence containing one of the band's finest - albeit short - grooves ever; the ride cymbal and bass drum playing over a drone with some nice textural sounds from Perry and Whitford.
09.Lick And A Promise (Tyler/Perry): a crescendo'ing drum piece matches an escalating Perry chordal riff and the band is off on an uptempo blues rauncher. A cliche'd title and a Tyler vocal performance complete with shrieks and what sounds like an audience in certain places seems to indicate a POV commentary about the 'typical' rock star lifestyle. As in with Get The Lead Out, the band outros on a great groove over a simple guitar lick, almost sounding Harrisonish.
10.Home Tonight - (Tyler): as with Dream On and You See Me Crying, the band turns to a Tyler-penned ballad to slow things down. The highlight is some Perry slide guitar, sounding alternately honking on the intro and wonderfully tangled on the solo. The overall band feel on this song compared to their later sugary hits (Angel, Don't Want To Miss A Thing), is profound. The latter songs having an overly precise, almost sterile feel, while Home Tonight genuinely sounds like a band of maniacs trying to slow things following a 9-track street riot. // 9
Lyrics: Tyler penned all the lyrics and, as is to be expected, they're rife with innuendo, but also display a train of thought which - perhaps unconsciously - reveals a resigned mindset to living life in the rock and roll trenches, personal struggles dictated by the never-ending temptations, battles, and routine of tour, record, tour, record, and perhaps a subconscious desire to step away from it all.
Back In The Saddle - A reference to back in the studio, back on the road? Back to the drudgery of coming up with lyrics, riffs?
Last Child - The country boy from New Hampshire finding himself in the city, dealing with all of it's attendant evils, wanting to be taken 'home sweet home'.
Rats In The Cellar - He's not going home anytime soon, he finds himself tossed into the pit, falling into temptation, losing his grip on reality and sanity, unable to escape.
Combination - The temporary aftermath and the struggle to break free of the hold, but does he really want to break free?
Sick As A Dog - He's broken the grip, but now he's paying the price.
Nobody's Fault - He thought he was free from this struggle, but now with his new-found vision (no longer dreaming) he sees a world teetering on the knife edge of sanity. The giant mess is recognized and acknowledged, but is it too late to do anything about it? Do we have to revert to a child-like mentality to escape?
Get The Lead Out - It's time to do something about it, or is it time to just 'hear the juke box swingin', a la watching Rome burning, and just 'dance with me'?
Lick And A Promise - Is it better just to find yourself in this made-up sub-world and immerse yourself in superficiality, only concerning yourself with 'rockin' like you wouldn't believe'?
Home Tonight - A plea or a wish, to step away from the madness, with the hollow - and undeliverable - promise that he'll be 'home tonight' knowing that he never will be.
Tyler was at the top of his game for Rocks. Already a gifted singer, he had continued to hone his skills and further develop his individuality once his radio mark was made from Dream On, Walk This Way, and Sweet Emotion. From the shrieks of Back in the Saddle, the belting out of Nobody's Fault, to the emotive yearn of Home Tonight, Rocks was a hard rock vocal triumph.
Perry does deserve a kudo for his vocal performance on Combination, if only for the fact that he stood up to take a lead vocal in the face of Tyler's overpowering vocal presence. Perry displays an adequate rock growl, with limited range, delivering his vocal lines with some conviction. // 9
Overall Impression: Rocks marks Aerosmith's finest moment as a performing unit; the songs all band-composed and performed, the crisp recording captures roaring Marshalls, pounding drums, and Tyler's screaming vocals all in what might be one of the finest hard rock studio albums ever by an American band. Unfortunately, the combination of circumstances that created the magic of Rocks actually would be behind the fracturing that followed. The shocking qualatative decline of original material, personal demons, infighting, and Perry's and Whitford's exits in 1979 and 1981 respectively all seemed to be nails in the Aerocoffin.
However, with the backing of a label and strict personal oversight, the original 5 did regroup years later. Clean and sober, and with their vices in control, they achieved a level of success and recognition unimagined, even for a band of their stature; truly one of the all-time great rock and roll comebacks. Simply for the fact that they managed to extricate themselves from their individual and combined swamps of self-destruction and dances with the devil, they will never again tap into the forces that made Aerosmith the incomparable album it is. Rock and roll that teeters on the edges of sound judgement and the maniacal tend to be the most insightful and the best, and it is from such that albums such as Rocks are born. // 9
unregistered, on august 31, 2004 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The sound of this album is so diverse. Aerosmith created this album with harsh tones and raw attitude. You can hear anger in these songs and you can hear every single aspect of Steven Tyler's screams in the opening track "Back In The Saddle". "Back In The Saddle" has such a strange vibe to it; very energetic. Other mentionable sounds are the metalish sounds in "Nobody's Fault," the sound of a band having fun in "Get The Lead Out," and the mellow, ballad-y sound in "Home Tonight." // 10
Lyrics: Steven Tyler writes incredible lyrics though I only gave this a four because rocking songs like "Get The Lead Out" and "Sick As A Dog" don't have the best lyrics. They're good but maybe I just don't understand them. Examples: Sick As A Dog "Sick as a dog, what's your story? Sick as a dog, cat got your tongue. Sick as a dog, you'll be sorry. Sick as a dog 'cause you really ain't that young." Get The Lead Out "You like good boogie? Like a really good boogie. Hear the juke box singing, make your feet start kickin." And then theres the good lyrics: from Combination "Walking on Gucci wearin' Yves St. Laurent, Barely stay on 'cause I'm so god damn gaunt." From Nobody's Fault "Old St. Andreas, seven years ago, shove it up their richters, red lines lines come and go." // 8
Overall Impression: Incredible. It's the definition of 70's metal. It's got everything from killer heavy metal riffs to slow piano ballads. Here's song by song:
01. Back In The Saddle - One of the best opening songs out there. Gives you a pretty good idea of what you're gonna get. Incredible music with heartwrentching vocals. 5/5
02. Last Child - Another good song. Every time I hear Bacck In The saddle I expect to hear Last Child right after it. A song about Aerosmith's guitarist Brad Whitford growing up. A solid right with some great lyrics and an incredible guitar solo. 5/5
03. Rats In The Cellar - Aerosmith used to also often open with this song just because it's so energetic and a great way to get things started. An incredible outro. The outro is this thing that just keeps building up and building up. It reminds you of Fleetwood Mac's "Rattlesnake Shake." Probably very fun to play. 4/5
04. Combination - Written by guitarist Joe Perry and it says it's sung by him but it sounds alot like Steven Tyler and Joe Perry at the same time. But again a very energetic rock and roll song with killer guitar riffs. 4/5
05. Sick As A Dog - This song starts off with an incredible melody written by bassist Tom Hamilton who actually play guitar on this track while Joe Perry (Guitarist) plays bass on for most of the song and then hands it over to Steven Tyler for the outro. The melody is the best part of the song. The lyrics are okay. But again, very energetic. 3/5
06. Nobody's Fault - A very heavy metal song for being in the 70's. Guitarist Brad Whitford did every guitar track for this song. he also made the the riffs for this song. This song has some great lyrics. It's about earthquakes and how they're all scared to death of them. They just recently started play thing song live (the album was released in 1976). There's alot of different parts of this song. 5/5
07. Get The Lead Out - The only flaw in this song is it's too short. I mentioned ealier that the lyrics were bad but the music makes up for the lyrics. Some great guitar work and great vocals (with not-so-great lyrics) but I still love to listen to this song. 4/5
08. Lick And A Promise - A very pop-rock-y type song. It's actually a great song but you get little tired of listening to it. It's about winning over a crowd. This song is really a crowd pumper doing concerts (they played this live all the time). Very up-tempo. 3/5
09. Home Tonight - The ballad of the album. Most Aerosmith albums have at least one. This one is great but again it's very short; only a little bit over three minutes long and not much singing but Steven Tyler can sure sing a mean ballad let me tell you. I could listen to this song all day, every day. 5/5 // 10
J-Smack, on july 09, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Rocks is the definition of a "solid album." Its sound is very heavy for it's era, and it is the first experimental album for Aerosmith. Along with hard rock, it contains a few songs from the genre of "funk," which gives the album the "kick" it needs. This album, along with Toys In the Attic, allows you to hear how much fun the band had playing it. Aerosmith said this themselves. Rocks definetely does lack it's share of riffs; this is basically a riff-based album. You have the heavy "Back In the Saddle," the funky "Last Child," the jazzy "Get the Lead Out," and a whole lot more. There may are only threesongs out of the eight that do not have main riffs. This album also contains the first song that only Joe Perry got writing credit for. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics on this album are excellent. They all go together, and they all impress. Even Joe Perry sings lead on "Combination." This is the first album where Steven finds his inner scream and wails throughout the whole album. Just listen to "Back In the Saddle" and you'll know what I mean. Speaking of which, for "Back In the Saddle," Steven's mike was pulled far away from him so he could blast as loud as he needed to without overpowering the band. The lyrics are great, flow together, have meaning, and are enhanced by Steven's screaming, I mean singing. // 10
Overall Impression: Ask any true Aerosmith fan what their favorite Aerosmith album is and most will say "Rocks." It is not my personal favorite, but I guess it would more than half of Aerosmith's fan base verses me on that, so I won't even go there. After you've bought Toys In the Attic, make sure to go out of your way to find Rocks. I haven't seen it anywhere besides in the Box of Fire, but I'm sure you can order it. Make sure you listen to "Back In the Saddle," "Last Child," and "Get the Lead Out." They are all personal favorites of mine. // 9
SameOld, on september 10, 2008 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: It's quiet, the guitar starts to sound, in the distance you hear the galloping of a horse, and suddenly a wide-mouthed demon of screamin' grabs the microphone and bellows with sultry sleaze, "I'm back, I'm back in the saddle again!" The bass and drums slam and shift as if they're making sweet, sticky love while the inter playing guitars of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford assault your ears like screams of pleasure straight from the bedroom. And that's just the first track. Rocks delivers a punch with every turn, slamming the listener face-first into a wall of distorted, bluesy guitar and funky bass, all of them straightened and solidified by the backbone of Joey Kramer's powerful drumming.
The ridiculously catchy riffs thrown down on 'Get The Lead Out', 'Rats In The Cellar' and 'Back In The Saddle' will fill your head for days. The pounding crunch of the oft-overlooked 'Nobody's Fault' or the amazing package single 'Last Child' will have you strumming an imaginary guitar before you know it. The melancholy lamenting of 'Combination' and the quiet promise of 'Home Tonight' will leave you black and blue. 'Sick As A Dog' has such an infectious chorus that you will hate yourself for listening to it. // 10
Lyrics: Steven Tyler again delivers the goods here, from the sexually explicit 'Back In The Saddle', which is about much more than cowboys, to the raging prophetic apocalypse portrayed in 'Nobody's Fault' to the crooning quiet of 'Home Tonight', he is on his top game lyrically and vocally. While there aren't any songs that deal with important controversial topics such as 'Uncle Salty' off Toys In the Attic, or any haunting ballads akin to 'Seasons of Wither', Tyler manages to squeeze himself dry of sleazy ramblings about woman and drugs here, and let me tell you, they have never sounded better. // 10
Overall Impression: Rocks is probably(along with Aerosmith's first 4 CDs) one of the most important rock records in history. There are literally no flaws, with every track delivering the goods and begging for a second listen. Every song is recommended, and if my copy was stolen I would buy it again without a doubt. // 10