It’s hard to believe that Aerosmith’s eponymous debut was recorded in 1972 and released in 1973. The mix on most tracks makes it sound much older than that! Apparently, it was recorded in a studio packed with pre-historic equipment thanks to a record company reluctant to invest in the future stadium-fillers. Certainly, when compared to releases by their peers – Led Zeppelin II (1969), Who’s Next (1971) or even the New York Dolls debut released in 1973 all sound much sharper to this reviewer’s ears.
The rough edges to the sound, coupled with the fact that this was the first time Aerosmith had gone into the studio, adds something to the record. It seems like an obvious statement but there is a fresh innocence here that is the perfect antidote to the overblown flabbiness of their more recent efforts.
Mostly written by Steven Tyler, the oldest and most experienced member of the group Aerosmith is the sound of a band still searching for their sound. This is especially evident on opener “Make It” and the following “Somebody”, and indeed throughout the album Tyler’s voice sounds different to any point of his career. However, if the first two tracks saw the band feeling their way, they presumably found it by the third track “Dream On”. This stand-out track was different to anything else on the record and gave them their breakthrough single, but not until several years later. It’s a mini-masterpiece gentle at times, bombastic and soaring at others. A power ballad before that term came to mean something bad.
“One Way Street” takes through 7 minutes of a bluesy shuffle. It’s ok but could’ve been executed better and then we come to the second bona fide Aerosmith classic on the album in “Mama Kin”. A song so good Tyler had it tattooed on his arm and Guns N’ Roses covered it on their debut “live” EP and the GNR Lies album.
“Write Me a Letter” is an enjoyable throwaway tune and “Movin’ Out” shows that this band had some potential. The latter is interesting not least because it represents the first Steven Tyler/Joe Perry collaboration committed to tape. If the band show their Hendrix and Zeppelin influences that’s no bad thing. The album closes by rattling through a cover of Rufus Thomas “Walkin’ the Dog”.
Much of the music sounds dated, as you’d expect from an album recorded in 1972 and as we’ve already discussed, it was laid down on equipment a step above a wax cylinder. Even so the two highlights: “Mama Kin” and “Dream On” still sound great and it’s worth buying for these alone. It’s also interesting as the first step in a long and winding career. It’s a shame Aerosmith couldn’t keep the same simplicity displayed on this debut on 2012’s monstrous “Music From Another Dimension” but perhaps it’s unfair to compare five lads in their 20s to millionaire veteran 60-somethings.
Rated Sound gives Aerosmith a rating of 7/10.
Aerosmith (1973) Track Listing
1. Make It
3. Dream On
4. One Way Street
5. Mama Kin
6. Write Me a Letter
7. Movin’ Out
8. Walkin’ the Dog