Friday, May 13, 2011

Gettin' Funky with Aerosmith

Over the years, I have frequently heard Aerosmith described as "America's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band."

I don't know if that is true or not — but I do know that, if you were a teen–ager in the 1970s, Aerosmith's music was everywhere.

It was on the radio whenever I drove anywhere, and my friends would be listening to it on their stereos whenever I arrived at their homes. It was playing in the pinball joints where my friends and I hung out and in the pizza places where we ate.

I remember the day I passed my driving test. When I drove home that afternoon, "Sweet Emotion" was playing on the radio. It wasn't brand new in those days — but it was a relatively recent hit (like "Walk This Way").

In May 1976, Aerosmith released its fourth album in less than 3½ years — "Rocks."

The band had been steadily developing a following since releasing its first album in January 1973. "Dream On" was on that album, but it didn't reach the national Top 10 until it was re–released as a single in 1976.

As I say, Aerosmith was hot, and, by and large, you knew what you were getting when you listened to an Aerosmith album — hard–driving power rock that was strongly influenced by the blues. It re–defined things.

That Aerosmith sound was well established by the time "Rocks" was released in 1976 — which is why the second song on the album, "Last Child," really made me sit up and take notice.

"Last Child" was the most noteworthy songwriting contribution from guitarist Brad Whitford, and it had an indisputably funk feel to it.

I guess it was a fusion of funk and rock, with a healthy portion of blues tossed in, but it was that touch of funk that made the song stand out from everything else on the album.

As a teen–ager, I must admit that I didn't understand the lyrics. But that didn't matter to me.

I liked the music.

I can't honestly say that I understand the lyrics any better today than I did in 1976.

But I still like the music.