Release date: 1976
Favorite track: “Last Child”
I honestly can’t believe I haven't featured this in my column yet.
“Rocks” is arguably one of Aerosmith’s best.
Some consider it a cheap imitation of Aerosmith’s self-titled debut featuring “Dream On” or its 1975 album, “Toys in the Attic,” featuring “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion.” Others, however, see it as Aerosmith doing what Aerosmith does best.
I’ve always loved the rock band Aerosmith. I’m 99 percent sure I’ve already mentioned this in my column, but a younger me named a stuffed animal Steven Tyler. It was a gift after I had surgery, roughly around the same time Tyler was injured falling off the stage. You win some, you lose some.
At that age, I’d say it’s normal to lose your footing on a stage or two. I think he will rock until he dies.
My editor hates when I overuse the word “iconic,” so I shrug my shoulders as I write this. “Back in the Saddle” is iconic.
From the dramatic build-up featuring a steady pitter-patter of the drums to the second Tyler screeches, “I’m back,” this song is an instant staple in classic rock. It’s rockin’ and catchy.
If we haven’t learned from AC/DC’s “Back in Black” or Eminem’s “Without Me,” being “back” is the best place to be. In fact, musicians should probably just leave so they can return already. It’s a recipe for a hit.
The album answers the killer opening track with the perfect follow-up, “Last Child.” The intro hints toward an experimental progressive rock track, then transitions into a blues-rock nirvana. The rhythm is incomparable.
Lead guitarist Brad Whitford is known for writing the first line, “Take me back to sweet Tallahassee, home sweet home.” It’s perfectly punchy.
“Rats in the Cellar” is a bit fast-paced for my taste, but that’s probably because it’s better listened to live. The change in tempo adds another layer to an already dynamic record, and I do think the music matches the title.
“Combination” is, interestingly enough, a combination of the songs before it — a little rock, a little blues and a little quick. What I find with songs like that is that there is often more to the lyrics.
I find my own fun,
Sometimes for free
I got to pay it to come lookin’ for me
The B-side starts to slow things down in the intro to “Sick As a Dog,” but it’s a trick again. The album picks up with song lyrics almost entirely composed of clichés. I like this as a B-side opener.
Sick as a dog, a cat got your tongue
— “Sick As a Dog”
“Nobody’s Fault” is one of Aerosmith’s heaviest songs, a circumstance largely created by drummer Joey Kramer and bass guitarist Tom Hamilton. It’s definitely a bridge into metal, which I love.
“Get the Lead Out” reminds me of “Combination.” Both are a bit more experimental than the rest, playing with different tools, but never relying on one.
I like the classic drum beat and intentionally shake-y vocals in “Lick and a Promise.” It’s another blues-influenced song with a classic rock break in the middle.
“Rocks” concludes with the ballad “Home Tonight,” which I figure was a requirement to release a classic rock album at the time. It’s my favorite song vocally, because Tyler’s voice already has so much natural emotion built in. I enjoy watching a live performance of this song on YouTube.
The album cover features five diamonds, which I assume represents Aerosmith’s five members: Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer. It’s simple artwork featuring the signature Aerosmith font.