#115 Aerosmith – Permanant Vacation (1987)

Permanent Vacation is the album that bridges the career of Boston rock band Aerosmith. When the almost 40 years of their career is looked back upon it can be easily divided into pre and post Permanent Vacation. It was the comeback record that relaunched the band back into the upper ranks of rock hierarchy. The release of this record was a both a blessing and a curse to those of us that were big Aerosmith fans. The thought of having new music from the band was awesome but it came at the price of not having the gritty testosterone fueled Aerosmith of the ’70’s. It had been nearly 10 years since they had released anything relevant while they were mired down with infighting and drug addiction that left the band teetering on the edge of non-existence. In the mid 1980’s they signed with Geffen records and released Done With Mirrors. Unfortunately the band was still messed up and the record was just not that good. Starting with Steven Tyler, the boys in the band went to treatment for chemical dependency and got themselves cleaned up. It was around this time that rap group Run DMC did a rap cover of “Walk This Way” that Tyler and Joe Perry guested on. Many like to say that this collaboration was the impetus that sparked their comeback. Personally I call bullshit on that. I feel like RUN DMC was a mediocre group that built most of their career on covering a song that was classic long before they took advantage of it…but thats just my opinion. It was in this atmosphere that they went to work on the album that would kickstart their career. For the first time they brought in other songwriters to aid them during recording. I think that Aerosmith knew with the clarity of their new-found sobriety that they were making a conscious effort to make a more commercially appealing record. Not that they completely lost their “cock walk” but there can be no denying that the sound was more Aerosmith Lite than “Mama Kin”. The album was destined to be a hit from the first moment that the opening guitar riff from “Dude Looks Like A Lady” came blaring out of the radio speakers. The song was a perfect choice to be the first single. It was catchy as hell, there’s no denying that. Also it introduced the newly sober Tyler’s new personality and sense of humor. But most importantly, I think, was that it was the most hard rock sounding track on the record and would help keep the old fan base interested in the new Aerosmith. There were other songs that contained the heart of the old A-Smith, like “Heart’s Done Time”, “Simoriah” and probably the closest was the funky blues number “St.John” but they didn’t have the same commercial appeal that “Dude” had. “Dude Looks Like A Lady” had enough push that the album had reached platinum status within 4 months of release and allowed the band to take a real chance with the second single. Now it would not be considered risky but at the time “Angel” was a huge departure from anything the band had ever released as a single. In the age of the rock band power ballad, “Angel” stands with the best of them. It would peak at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, at the time making it their biggest hit yet (and it still stands as their 2nd most succesful single behind “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” which is the bands only #1 song). It was different from most of the cookie cutter power ballads of the day for 2 big reasons…the Toxic Twins …Steven & Joe. They each put their unique stylings lyrically and musically into the song. It would also open the door for them to repeat the formula on future releases. The last single from the record was “Rag Doll” a uniquely Aerosmith sounding funky rock dish that showcases Tyler as one of rocks great frontmen. The song contains a pounding Joey Kramer beat and catchy Joe Perry guitar with Steven riffing over the top with his overtly sexual double entendres (I’m rippin’ up a rag doll, like throwing away an old toy) and even alludes to his position in the rock world at the time (some babes talkin’ real loud…talkin’ all about the new crowd….try to tell me I’m an old dream..a new version of the old scene) and finishes the fade out in a classic Tyler scat. Although I’m a huge fan of the band this is the only regular issue I have in my collection and therefore is the only Aerosmith entry on my blog (But back in the day I had Toys In The Attic, Aerosmith, Rocks, Get Your Wings…all that shit). But don’t kid yourself, there is plenty of Aerosmith at my disposal, I have the wonderful 3 disc retrospective Pandora’s Box that showcases the bands pre-Geffen days at Columbia Records and Big Ones the Geffen greatest hits package that features the best of the latter-day Aerosmith. I have attended too many concerts in my 43 years to recall an exact number and Aerosmith stands towards the top of the list as one of the best live acts I have seen. I saw the band twice on the Permanent Vacation tour. The first time was just a few months after the albums release on December 12 1987 at the St. Paul Civic Center. At the time they were the opening act for Ted Nugent, but we weren’t there for Terrible Ted. It was the first time I had seen them live and I was completely blown away. It must have been pretty hard for Nugent to drag his ass on stage every night and try to follow that act. The next time they came around was in the summer of 1988 and by this time they were again headlining. Some friends and I made the road trip to East Troy Wisconsin and the Alpine Valley amphitheater to see one of the greatest shows I’ve ever witnessed. In the heat of the summer outdoors on July 29th 1988, we watched Guns N Roses open up for Aerosmith…..damn near rock and roll perfection for a 19-year-old guy. If you still subscribe to the theory that a mediocre rap group fueled the band’s comeback, take another listen to Permanent Vacation and you will soon realize you were wrong. Then go back and listen to the pre-1980’s catalog and you will remember that Aerosmith is one the greatest American hard rock bands ever.

This entry was posted in Top 200 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s