Home Read Area Resident’s Classic Album Review: Aerosmith | Draw The Line

Area Resident’s Classic Album Review: Aerosmith | Draw The Line

There are four Aerosmith records available in a quadraphonic mix — Get Your Wings, Rocks, Toys In The Attic and Draw The Line. OMG I want to hear them so badly, especially Rocks. But yesterday I settled for a $3 stereo copy of Draw The Line — for now.

This is the critical fifth LP — the last good one and the first where the band’s drug use starts to show. The first four albums are so good it’s stupid. So let’s cast a critical eye over this difficult period for Toxic Twins Steven Tyler and Joe Perry — who only co-wrote three of the album’s songs.

The title track that opens the album may be my favourite Aerosmith song. It has always reminded me of Bodies by Sex Pistols. The way Tyler sings the last verse is pure legend.

The album took four months to record, in an unoccupied convent outside New York City. The location was chosen to make it more difficult for the band to get drugs. But they managed just fine. There were lots of drugs, lost days, guns and a newfound apathy all around. The result, for Tyler, was that he wasn’t in the studio enough to get a proper feel for the new songs. So he procrastinated writing lyrics — occasionally just singing those provided to him by producer Jack Douglas. But there certainly was no evidence of this on the title track.

The second song is also a Perry/Tyler co-write. I Wanna Know Why features Canadian pianist Scott Cushnie. It’s a good song, if a bit forgettable. The piano is the best thing about it. Then it’s Critical Mass — one of the ones Douglas wrote the lyrics for. Otherwise this is bass player Tom Hamilton’s song. He’s got songwriting skills, though — he co-wrote Sweet Emotion, for example. This song is 100% Aerosmith but entirely forgettable. Filler. Background party music, fittingly enough. That’s exactly how it was conceived.

Next is the only other Tyler/Perry co-write Get It Up. Slide guitar and sex and stupid lyrics:

“Take me on your rocking whores.
Hit the lights and shut your doors.
Grab your ankles, ev’ryone.”

I feel stupider just writing that down. The chorus is needlessly syncopated. The bridge, with its handclaps, is much better but — holy hell — is it ever busy. There are also some very brief backing vocals by Karen Lawrence of L.A. Jets. Who?

The last song on the first side is Perry’s punk-influenced Bright Light Fright. The band didn’t care for it, so he sang it himself. This one is actually awesome, apart from the goddamn sax. Ladies & gentlemen … Joe Perry & The News! It is not Perry’s finest guitar solo, for certain.

Side 2 opens with Kings And Queens — a collaboration between Tyler, drummer Joey Kramer and Hamilton. Rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford gets a credit as well because he plays all the guitar on it. This song sounds like dark KISS. The lyrics are awful and Tyler sounds pretty worn out. It’s too slow and mostly trudges along.

The Hand That Feeds is one Perry says he didn’t even bother to get out of bed to be part of. Whitford again does all the guitars. It’s largely his song, with lyrics by Tyler. It takes a lot of cues from the title track, but is 1/8 the song. It has a curious bridge/guitar solo over top of a progression riff which is basically Echoes by Pink Floyd or Phantom Of The Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Sight For Sore Eyes was basically written by New York Dolls frontman David “not yet Buster PoindexterJohansen with Perry. It’s a little disco-y. Greasy. It took months for Tyler to do the lyrics.

The album closes with a standard — a rockin’ cover of Kokomo Arnold’s Milk Cow Blues from 1934. It’s the second-best song on the record. That may say everything. Aerosmith’s wick of self-destruction was lit and burning fast. The explosion wouldn’t happen until they were recording their next record — Off Your Rocker, later retitled Night In The Ruts. Perry quit in the midst of it, owing the band around $80k in room service.

Both he and Tyler agree Ruts is better than Draw The Line. I’m glad I only paid $3 for it.



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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.