Saturday, 21 January 2017

"Toys In The Attic" by AEROSMITH (1993 Columbia CD Reissue - Vic Anesini Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Walk This Way...Talk This Way..."

Aerosmith's 3rd album "Toys In The Attic" was a vinyl monster stateside clocking up over 8-million LP sales - and from April 1975 starting a two and half year chart reign (128 weeks in total). Yet over here in Blighty most seemed utterly indifferent to those legions of long-haired men who bought this hard-rockin' snotty little git with mid-decade mid-American glee. Aerosmith didn't hit the UK charts until 1987 with "Permanent Vacation" – another anthem - only this time on Geffen Records and not their 1970ts spiritual home of Columbia. Even the mighty - and let's call it what it is - damn cool strut of "Walk This Way" didn't sell on 45 in the UK (CBS Records 4878) on release - which is some respects must have been down to lack of radio play (no such problem in the USA) – it wasn’t recognised until much later as a classic.

Forty-two years on though and "Toys In The Attic" stills rawks as they say in the very White House of 2017. And you just have to love its sheer balls-to-the-wall rock-out-with-your-knob-out impact - track after track with riffage Lemmy would have been proud of. And although this 1993 Columbia CD reissue/remaster is in desperate need of a packaging upgrade and some decent Bonus Tracks - it still boasts a stunning Don De Vito/Vic Anesini Remaster. So once more unto the rocking horses and used teddy bears - let's walk this way...

UK released 8 November 1993 (reissued several times since including September 2011) - "Toys In The Attic" by AEROSMITH on Columbia 474964 2 (Barcode 5099747496424) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the 1975 album and plays out as follows (37:12 minutes):

1. Toys In The Attic
2. Uncle Salty
3. Adam's Apple
4. Walk This Way
5. Big Ten Inch Record
6. Sweet Emotion [Side 2]
7. No More No More
8. Round And Round
9. You See Me Crying
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 3rd studio album "Toys In The Attic" - released April 1975 in the USA on Columbia PC 33479 and July 1975 in the UK on CBS Records S 80773. Produced by JACK DOUGLAS - the album peaked at No. 11 in the USA. "Adam's Apple" written by Steve Tyler - "Walk This Way", "Toys In The Attic" and "No More No More" written by Steve Tyler and Joe Perry - "Uncle Salty" and "Sweet Emotion" written by Steve Tyler and Tom Hamilton - "Round And Round" by Steve Tyler and Brad Whitford - "You See Me Crying" by Steve Tyler and D. Soloman - "Big Ten Inch Record" is a cover version of an old Fred Weismantel song recorded in 1953 by R&B artist Bullmoose Jackson on King Records.

STEVE TYLER - Vocals, Keyboards, Harmonica and Percussion
JOE PERRY - Lead and Rhythm Guitars, Acoustic and Slide, Percussion and Backing Vocals
BRAD WHITFORD - Lead and Rhythm Guitars
TOM HAMILTON - Bass (rhythm guitar on "Uncle Salty")
JOEY KRAMER - Drums and Percussion
Scott Cushnie - Piano on "Big Ten Inch Record" and "No More No More"
Jay Messina - Bass Marimba on "Sweet Emotion"

The double-sided four-leaf foldout inlay is hardly the stuff of legends. They repro 'The Master Lab' Tape Box For Side 2 of the album - the rear sleeve with its recorded data and a two-page colour collage of Aerosmith memorabilia - but there's no new liner notes - the Cream and L.A. Times reviews that were used on stickers to sell the original vinyl album. For something that clocked up eight million sales in the USA alone - it's a bit of a let down. Everyone knows too that third American 45 - "You See Me Crying" b/w "Toys In The Attic" had a radically reduced 7" single edit on the A-side reducing the album cut of 5:12 down to 3:00 minutes. Surely along with some outtakes or live stuff - that could have been included as a 'Bonus'. But alas...

What we do get by way of compensation however is a stunning new 24-bit digital remaster from original tapes by DON DeVITO and Mastering Engineer supremo VIC ANESINI - an Audio transfer name I actively seek out when looking for exceptional CD Remasters. Anesini has had a long association with Sony and all things Columbia - Santana, Simon & Garfunkel, Elvis Presley, Mott The Hoople, Janis Joplin, Carole King, The Jayhawks, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Mountain, Nilsson and many more. Bringing out the power of those riffs and just how tight the band were was always the priority with this most 'Hard Rock' of LPs - and the team behind this transfer have achieved that.

Coming at you like Montrose in 1973 - the sheer speed and attack of the mission-statement title-track "Toys In The Attic" is fantastic stuff - building and building into a frantic thrasher (you half wonder why someone didn't think it would make a good 45). Things calm down with "Uncle Salty" - where daddy got busted and mother's love for all the others didn't help much either (the guitars and vocals are so good). A nasty slide guitar opens "Adam's Apple" setting up a lady-luck rocker - guitars and vocals that would make The Black Crowes nervous (love at first bite baby). What can you say about "Walk This Way" - surely one of 'the' great Rock singles of the Seventies or any other decade for that matter - fun, irreverent and bursting out of your speakers with school bells and snotty guitars intent on kitties in the gym. Side 1 ends on a bit of Rhythm 'n' Blues fun complete with pumping Brass complimenting those guitars – a cover of Bullmoose Jackson's 1953 Rhythm & Blues hit "Big Ten Inch Record" that originally came out on King 4580. With Tiny Bradshaw's Orchestra backing up the truly salacious lyrics - Bullmoose pushes the lyrical envelope - thrilling the ladies when he gets out his giant ruler-long talent (for the Blues you understand). You can image that Steve, Joe and the boys had a grin on their collective kissers when they recorded this.

Side 2 opens with the huge guitars of "Sweet Emotion" - another head-chugging winner given full power here on this amazing Remaster (and what about those guitar solos towards the end as they go off into another variant of the riff - wow). Acoustics finally rear their highly-produced heads in "No More No More" where the band sound like Boston's debut in 1976  - or is it the other way around. The piano is still in the back of the mix but at least I can kind of hear it now.

New Remaster or no - "Round And Round" is the one track on the album that sounds 'wrong' to me - that vocal all strangulated and too distant and that grungy guitar over 'there somewhere'. I suppose they recorded it that way on purpose - but it still sounds off. The big ballad finisher of "You See Me Crying" is five-minutes of weepy Aerosmith and it's not surprising to me that Columbia 3-10253 (with "Toys In The Attic" on the flipside) failed to dent the charts. It's one string-moment too far - in fact I feel some of Side 2 seriously lets the whole album down...

Boston's AEROSMITH would tear it up with their 4th platter "Rocks" in 1976 and "Draw The Line" in 1977 - but this is where their locker-room legend and guitar mayhem really started. 

Dude looks like a winner - and like most of their reissue catalogue - it's dirt-cheap too...

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