Aerosmith Ready to Fly Into the Millenium On Their Teen-Rock Cred

Aerosmith's career has been somewhat cyclical. They burst on the scene in

the mid-'70s, immediately becoming one of the biggest American arena-rock

acts behind the howling vocals of Steve Tyler and the guitar pyrotechnics

of Joe Perry. By the beginning of the '80s, they had hit the proverbial

bottom--no longer making relevant, or even decent music and trapped in a

swirl of drug addiction, there were rumors of band members selling their

gold records on New York's Lower East Side in exchange for heroin. Perry

left the band in the early '80s and formed his own, short-lived Joe Perry

Project, and, to all concerned, it seemed like Aerosmith was done. Then,

in the mid-'80s, Aerosmith bounced back. With Perry back in the fold,

Aerosmith sobered up and were trying their hand at making new music when

Run-DMC supercharged their career. Re-mixing Aerosmith's '70s hit "Walk

This Way," rap's premier group, instead of rapping over vinyl, enlisted

Aerosmith to help them with a remake. Once again, Aerosmith found itself

on top of the teen idol, hard rock heap.

And they've stayed their for the past decade, gaining popularity with each

new album. Rather than relying on their catalogue of old classics,

Aerosmith consistently made music that was new and relevant...and their

choice of video models didn't hurt any, either. Launching the careers of

both Alicia Silverstone and Tyler's daughter Liv, Aerosmith made a series

of innuendo-laced videos that barely featured the (not overly attractive)

band in favor of stories featuring their two video vixens.

Then, just when it seemed as if Aerosmith has finally found lasting

success and serenity, things began to unravel. Tom Collins, the band's

manager since their drug-laced days of the '80s, quit amid accusations

that some or all of the members of Aerosmith has fallen off the wagon.

(Collins, an ex-addict himself, has become an industry leader in the

anti-drug movement. Reportedly, the members of Aerosmith were bothered

that he was attaching their names to his efforts, something which they

never seemed to mind in the past.) Then the release date for their new

album, Nine Lives was pushed back, and pushed back again. Their

were reports that the label wasn't happy with the album, that production

was being held up because Tyler was knee-deep in heroin once again...well,

you get the idea.

The music industry feeds off of rumors like this, and, thankfully, in the

case of Nine Lives, they seem to have been disproved: at the very

least, if members of Aerosmith have fallen off the wagon, it hasn't

interfered with their hit-making formula. Bringing in a coterie of

writer's to work with the band--virtually every song on Nine Lives

features a different song writing combination, including some featuring

songsmith Glenn Ballard, the writer behind Alanis Morissette, Aerosmith

has produced a riff-packed, pedal-to-the-metal disc that marks their best

work and kept them relevant as they moved into the '90s. The album begins

with the title track, introduced by a trademark Tyler howl, and from that

point on, the band is off and running. Perry's riffs are as meaty and

catchy as ever, and Tyler's double-entendres are guaranteed to titillate

high-schoolers across the country. Operating at warp-speed, "Nine Lives"

is a classic Aerosmith song to introduce a classic Aerosmith album.

"Falling in Love," the disc's second track, has echoes of Aerosmith's

late-'80s work, and features what is sure to be the widely-quoted "Falling

is love / is hard on the knees" (as well as the cliched "Sometimes I'm

good / but when I'm bad I'm better." Whether you're an Aerosmith fan or

not, Nine Lives will have you tapping your feet in time--one thing

Aerosmith has mastered in their 20-plus years in the business is write

supremely catchy, hard rock-tinged songs.

Whether Tyler, or Perry, or other members of the band did indeed fall off

the wagon, they're operating on all cylinders on Nine Lives. Take

your pick of songs: "Taste of India," a sitar-tinged ditty, or on one of

the album's ballads (where Perry inevitably refers to the women in his

life as "girl") there's no sign of Aerosmith slowing down anywhere in the

near future. Add some classic sex-anthems such as "Pink" ("Pink as the

bing on your cherry / Pink cause you are so very / As pink as the sheets

we lay on / Pink it's my favorite crayon") and Nine Lives seems

ready to join the later Aerosmith canon along with, say, Permanent

Vacation. While some of the slower songs betray the aging in Tyler's

voice ("Hole in My Soul" being one such example), Tyler, Perry, rhythm

guitarist Brad Whitford, bassist Tom Hamilton, and drummer Joey Kramer

seem poised to keep on writing teen-anthems into the next millennium.