Angel – Aerosmith

Welcome. Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to Power Ballad Week. The (un)ultimate compilation of seven overblown overproduced overwrought love songs by bands who will alter their sound any which way their management tells them to if it stands a chance of yielding them a much needed hit… That’s one way of looking at it.

Proper Power Ballads have to come from a band who don’t usually sound like that. They have to be the songs on the album designed to appeal to Girls and Adults and Casuals who will be tricked into buying an album of heavy fast rock and roll when they thought they were getting Richard Marx or Michael Bolton or The Carpenters.

Ballads by anyone not playing this card are just Ballads by balladeers (you have no power ballad here). But I don’t put songs up on SteveForTheDeaf that I don’t genuinely love. So, Angel by Aerosmith. Let’s waffle.

The Power Ballad was not a new move for Aerosmith. They had one on their debut album before I was born. Exploiting the Power Ballad for the good of the band was Aerosmith’s first big move. Dream On was nestled right in the heart of that self titled debut back in ’73. The album was not shifting. They had something close to a ballad on their second album Get Your Wings but everything on that record was a little too tricked out to be considered a safe radio friendly hit. So their fledgling career was at risk of succumbing to the recreationals almost from the off. Someone in Management had the bright idea of re-releasing the single from the first album before the ship went down.

Dream On became a hit on it’s second go around. The Band was saved… Walk This Way was on the third album… They owed their career (or any chance of it having longevity) to a Power Ballad. Pressings of the debut Aerosmith album after 1974 had the words ‘Featuring Dream On’ right there on the front sleeve under the band name lest anyone not conflate the sweet sounding love song from the radio with the bunch of gypsy pirates on the cover.

Another lesson learned Aerosmith would not appear on their own album covers again unless they were cartoons or dressed up in costume.

So the 70’s happened. Aerosmith were there. They were massive, they don’t remember any of it and they were all but done by the early 80’s.

Then Run DMC and Rick Rubin and that most well documented of resurrections happened and Aerosmith cleaned themselves up and signed a deal with Geffen.

New label. New lease of life. New chance to be huge. And yet… Aerosmith’s plans seemed to be reliving their original launch pattern. Their comeback album (Done With Mirrors) stiffed. The follow up (Permanent Vacation) was out there but it wasn’t doing the sort of business the millions spent on the deal needed to reflect.

So we get Angel. Released as a single and then re-released. This is where I come in. Angel was released as a hit in the US. It was all sorts of 80’sness. It had a huge budget video full of excessive special effects and power chords being struck on desert roads. But in the UK nothing happened. So they powered forwards to Dude Looks Like A Lady (if ever a song was lost in evolving politics it’s this one) right through to Pump and some actual hits with Love In An Elevator, What It Takes, Janie’s Got A Gun, The Other Side, Etc Etc Etc.

My brother bought Angel on it’s initial release. On 3 inch CD. There was an idea in the 80’s that CD singles had to be smaller than CD albums. So they shrank them down to 3 inches. The sleeves were too easy to lose at that size though so they kept the plastic cases the same size as regular CD’s at first. Then the industry realised some people couldn’t play the little CD’s in some brands of CD player, so they put an adaptor ring around it to make the whole thing back up to CD size. Honestly this argument about USB’s and phone chargers has been going on forever in one format or another.

Angel and the other singles from Permanent Vacation were re-released again after Pump. By now I’ve stolen the tiny CD single from my Brother in a cultural exchange. Even Dude which had already been a hit was re-pressed (In an amazing piece of format fuckery I have a 5inch vinyl single from that re-do which was also a shaped picture disc so it was also massive, but tiny. The sound quality was horrendous) They were hits of a sort in the UK at last.

I can’t think of an Aerosmith album that didn’t have a Power Ballad on it. Often it appears they have 3 or 4 just so they can keep the video’s and hits coming while the rock songs keep the actual fans fed from the albums (I’m looking at you Get A Grip).

They’re a cynical corporation of a band these days. More a touring theme park ride than a rock and roll band kicking out the jams. I did see that they’ve opened all the shows in their most recent farewell tour with Let The Music Do The Talking though. That was the comeback single from the lost album Done With Mirrors that did no business at all.

So who knows… Maybe they’re redressing the balance.

18 thoughts on “Angel – Aerosmith

  1. Good for you for doing a Power Ballad week!
    Angel…umm yeah this track…
    Done With Mirrors is an album I love as its loosey goosey AeroStoned good time rock! Yup you are correct that it stiffed but not in my world! Loved it back in 85 as much as I do in ’18!
    Permanent Vacation is a Aero album I do still like. A different Aero..Aerosober and fair enough! In the song Angel they had totally play the game and than won! Fair enough…
    Is Angel a track I can listen to now..nope, but I get it…
    For me though,three of the best Aero albums…Toys/Rocks/Pump stuffed the ballad at the end of each of those albums which was a brilliant move….
    I have no idea where I’m going here but I do look forward to this upcoming week here Sir!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey deKE. I hear you man. I sort of count Aerosmith as two bands. Columbia Aerosmith and Geffen Aerosmith played by two different sets of rules.
      Angel isn’t their best ballad by a loooong stick. But it was the one that turned me on to them while they were evolving from a drugged up bluesy boogie rock band into a theme park ride.
      My three fave Aerosmith records are the first one, Rocks and Draw The Line. I’m a real fan of Night In The Ruts too. You’re right about that ballad at the end trick. It makes the commerciality of it seem less rampant and more like a climatic Act. I could have done a week of Aerosmith power ballads to be honest but there’s so much other stuff to come this week.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awesome Man….
        My fave Aero records would be..not in order

        Toys/Done With Mirrors/Pump/Rocks and I even have a special spot for Rock In A Hard Place…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Not their finest ballad, but it is a good one. Though I guess I’m comparing it to the early ones, eh? Cause it’s better than a chunk of the stuff released after it (though Nine Lives, The last of their worthwhile albums, has a contender or two).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pre-Geffen they had Dream On, Home Tonight, Mia, Seasons Of Wither, You See Me Crying and the rather brilliant cover of Cry Me A River to name but a few. All brilliant tear jerkers.
      After Angel there was at least two by the numbers lighter in the air moments on each album. Amazing has a fantastic solo in it though and the What It Takes video is terrific

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s where I first saw it. There was a heavy metal special once with a count down of the top metal bands. I had never even heard of Quiet Riot and they came in at three. Bon Jovi were number two and Van Halen number one. It made no sense to me in the UK at all

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah I watched Casey Kasem as well here in Canada …
        Course the listening habits of the two countries were pretty close back than in regards to Metal…

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Glad to see the power ballad week. Today, I finished my run of 10 power ballads for My Sunday Song series. I had Aerosmith lined up for one of those 10, but I kept thinking of one I liked better. When I do another 10 down the road, I am sure they will make the cut that time.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Power ballad week! Yay! Love this write up. I love the mention of gypsy pirates. It always amused me how people would talk about how much GnR looked like gypsies you might find under rocks, when they just looked like Aerosmith had over a decade prior. Those dudes had to be rock n rollers, b/c nobody would have hired them for decent work. Kudos.

    Liked by 1 person

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