“Me and my old lady sittin’ in the shade, Talkin’ ’bout the money that I ain’t made, Singin’ o boy dontcha line the track a lack a”
When I first heard this one way back in the 80’s I had no idea how long I would love this song. No idea that what seemed just a cheesy blues lyric would come to mean so much to me. Wait. Just that opening line. Not the whole bit. Hangman Jury is a cautionary tale. Aerosmith’s sit down blues stomper on Permanent Vacation (the third song from that album to get the SFTD spotlight) seemed to me the perfect final track for the end of Aerosmith Week. And yet if I may push the Jury just a little further I’d like to include a very specific take on the song.
“Drank so much hooch it my eyes be gettin’ blurry, they say I nailed her to the wall, a stitch in time don’t mean a thing no hangman jury could make me crawl, ’cause I’m a poor boy dontcha line the track a lack a”
In the song things get confessional. The Dude singing did a Johnny Cash worthy amount of losing his temper. A Jimi sized measure of Shooting his woman down and a Led Zeppelin full of Swinging on the Gallows Pole.
The very first ever episode of MTV Unplugged has been discussed here before too. Aerosmith’s performance on that show helped kick start a whole thing in the 90’s. This is not to be downplayed. Aerosmith were (at the start of it all) a party band. A mix of southern boogie, British blues and old fashioned rock and roll, but with a Boston flavour. Like Sam Adams Boston Lager. The only lager that is brown, bitter, not lager like at all and more like a pint of bitter. The Aerosmith/Boston influence is just as strong as the beer.
The ‘Smiff developed through their purple patch a complex heavy rock that took in musicality, jug band swamp songs, studio improvisation and the twin guitar attack of two of the best six string slingers on the business. The bass player and drummer (a constant throughout the many decades) Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer are the tightest fucking rhythm section you could hope for. The American Behemoth that headlined TexXxas Jam were up there with the greats. That’s only phase one. One wobbly period aside they’ve retained their OG line up for decades. The album without Joe or Brad is still an interesting record. I’ll back Rock In A Hard Place as a superior album with some ambitious ideas. The comeback and the Rap/Rock cross over made them bigger than ever. After Unplugged there was Pump. A genetically modified killing machine of big time heavy rock. Then the MTV stuff got bigger than the band. They became a theme park ride (literally) a video game, a Vegas residency beckoned.
“Ooh, love comes tumblin’ down, Poor boy sweatin’ in the hot summer night, Hangman waitin’ for the early mornin’ light singin’ Oh boy dontcha line the track a lack a”
Aerosmith were not going to get caught out losing on bad business deals a second time. So many compilations followed. Lots of cash-ins. I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing. Live albums, DVD’s, tours that didn’t support albums. Nine Lives was a long way from Get A Grip… Just Push Play further still. They did a blues covers album in 2004. Honkin’ On Bobo. It was supposed to refocus the band (actually it was pretty good and for once they beat The Stones to the punch… Unless you count the first couple of albums by The Stones).
“Let’s walk this dog”
They looked like they’d run their course creatively but a few more trips round the heritage circuit could keep them up there as headliners. Rumours about Steven, sobriety, the band, solo stuff swirled around. Aerosmith were now a show off stage. A reality show. I’m yet to listen to their most recent studio record. I’m fine with that.
They never did officially release the MTV set as a record. There’s a decent enough bootleg out there but the sleeve is crap. I’m still living in hope. I keep an eye on them but I’m not ‘All In’ like I used to be.
“If I could I surely would…”