Rocktober Day 16: Aerosmith - Pump


That Aerosmith were once titans of rock and roll no-one can dispute. Their work in the late 70’s served encapsulated what rock in that decade was all about. There was a reason they were known as America’s greatest rock band, and it wasn’t just the near impossible amount of drugs they consumed.

For all intents and purposes the band as the world knew it ceased to exist in 1979. Tensions between the members along with rampant drug and alcohol abuse blew the band to bits and there was so much animosity between the members that there was little chance the band would ever come back together. Jump forward 5 years though and it seemed that all those bad feelings had been put to bed, and the Aerosmith that the world knew and loved began to make records again.

Thanks to MTV, the band suddenly found itself with more commercial success and exposure  than it had ever thought was possible, and just like that Aerosmith was back on top, doing what they did best. Except not really.

While the band may have started out strong with 1987’s Permanent Vacation and it’s string of hits (“Rag Doll”, “Angel” and the ever present “Dude (Looks Like  A Lady), the lessons learned that would carry over into the rest of the bands career weren’t exactly shining examples of greatness. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry had hit upon a formula that played to the masses to great effect, and so it was that 1989’s Pump would be a largely formulaic, yet largely entertaining collection of ass-rockingly good songs...that we’d all heard before.

To be fair, given the genre it’s not like one should expect anything more from a band the likes of Aerosmith. It’s music for the masses, and as such shouldn’t require one to put on their thinking caps to enjoy it. But beyond that Aerosmith, like most great bands, always had a little hint of danger behind their music, and by 1989 almost, if not all, of that danger had been stripped away. So Pump isn’t exactly known as a record made by a band who is firing on all cylinders. But that didn’t stop the hits.

“Love In An Elevator”, the socially conscious “Janie’s Got A Gun”, and the go-for-broke power ballad “What It Takes” all became MEGA hits in a time when the public’s tastes were shifting towards the more grungy sounds of Seattle that loomed on the horizon. That’s no small feat, and while the first two songs can be somewhat dismissed as by the numbers radio friendly rockers, “What It Takes” is easily one of the best songs that the band has ever put on record. Is it over the top? Hell yes it is, but it’s also a f@#@ing masterpiece of a song, that plays just as well today as it did 20 years ago.

Ultimately, if there is anything that must be said about Pump, it’s that after hearing the record, we all should have seen the shit storm of suck that Aerosmith has become coming. Each record after Pump sounded more and more like a parody of the band whose front men had been previously known as the Toxic Twins. Not only was this allowed to happen, but it was encouraged as they continued rack up hit after hit. This abuse went on and on until the band finally, mercifully hit absolute rock bottom with this:




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