I get why people don’t dig on Aerosmith. They can look a bit absurdist from the outside looking in. All of the worst excesses of Hair Metal and Cock Rock performed by a bunch of dirty old men who think they’re The Rolling Stones in lace and spandex but control their band like CEO’s of a corporation. They make two kinds of songs. Cheesy ballads that sexualise their daughters in the cheesy videos and hard rock anthems that find different ways to eulogise their penises. At least that’s how it looks from the outside.
Before that image took hold, way before any of that was the case, they were a considerably more urban proposition. Aerosmith hailed from 1970’s Boston. A hardened blues rock outfit who worshipped at the altar of the late 60’s blues explosion and played harder, leaner and with more boogie than almost any other band around. They did it all with a street tough attitude and an ear for melody in their twin guitar attack. Aerosmith made music for dancing to. Dancing with girls.
One Way Street is off their first album, the self titled debut was re-issued a couple of years or so after it’s 1973 release with the title changed to AEROSMITH: FEATURING DREAM ON! And that’s how the first album gets remembered by most. It’s got ‘Dream On’ on it, and the one GNR covered (Mama Kin, also excellent, and way better than Guns version).
One Way Street shows a dexterity that encapsulates seven minutes of the finest 70’s boogie rock. The lyrics are almost entirely delivered in street jive
‘Hey looky yonder, What’s that I see, Well that old bogus, honey, Comin’ after me, I gotta told ya, Was out of town, I wonder how she knowed, I was hangin’ around’.
There’s room for bass line aerobics, a guitar solo which becomes a duel and some smoking harmonica riffage.
The whole time Tyler’s vocals are laying it out Loonpants 70’s style
‘You know your brother Spike, He’s on the level, But you always lookin’ like you met the devil’. ‘Don’t say I cop a ‘tude, It’s all forgotten, It’s just you’re much too rude, Your fruits are rotten’
It builds, then crecendos, then builds again right up to the seven minute mark and then it all tumbles down like un-cemented bricks getting hit with a bat.
Aerosmith will be remembered for drugs in the 70’s. A Rap-Rock Crossover in the 80’s, Mega-stardom in the 90’s and a turgid decline in the 21st century. T’is a pity One Way Street wasn’t one of their many hits. It could have been so different.