Aerosmith: Get a Grip

Jason MacNeil


Get a Grip

Label: Geffen
US Release Date: 2001-11-20

The year was 1993 and one of the biggest rock revivals was in full swing. Aerosmith had captured several demographics with the smash-selling Pump, the many singles and videos thereafter. Trying to surpass the sales figures was an exercise in futility, but the group returned with perhaps one of its finest, totally underrated, shining moments. Although this album has been rarely given its due in lieu of trying to commercially eclipse Pump, this collection of rock anthems, funky jams and heartfelt, high-school prom ballads could be seen by many as a more complete and well-rounded album. The Toxin Twin duo of Joe Perry and Steve Tyler could now be referred to as the Antioxidant Twins, but it doesn't diminish the body of work, of which Get a Grip was such an integral part of.

From the opening jungle, Banshee like wails of the comic intro, Tyler sings about swinging from the pearly gates and having "the right key baby but the wrong keyhole". From that and a brief snippet of the "Walk This Way" riff, the album begins with "Eat the Rich", a no-nonsense rocker which relates somewhat to "Love in an Elevator" but is a bit more refined and unpolished, particularly the ragged guitar solo by Perry. The rhythm section is also rock solid, with Brad Whitford and bassist Tom Hamilton keeping everything in check. But it's the subsequent title track that is the hidden and often overlooked gem within. Although never released as a single, the song has the same funky swagger that "Rag Doll" has on the band's Permanent Vacation only a bit more upbeat and less bluesy. It also seems to propel the rest of the album for an enjoyable rocky ride. "Flesh" also has the same mannerisms, with a harder guitar leading the way over Tyler's lewd and crude double entendres. If you listen closely near its conclusion, the tribal rhythms are almost identical to the opening for "Eat the Rich".

One of the few numbers which could be considered filler in spots is "Fever", a song that resembles "Toys in the Attic" in its urgency, but due to other circumstances, notably having country superstar Garth Brooks covering the tune, it loses much of its drive and luster upon many listens. Tyler's return to the harmonica midway through the song secures its place in boogie rock as well. "Shut Up and Dance" also falls into this same category, with Tyler talking the song mostly instead of singing it. The psychedelic sandwich on "Gotta Love It" has a nice groove to it, but falters during the initial verses.

"Livin' on the Edge", while not the spotlight stealer, is certainly one of the album's cornerstones, coming in at over six minutes. With a style very reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" in the constant, brooding of Joey Kramer's drumming and the Eastern influences hidden deep in the song, the tune is by far one of the highlights within the hour plus here. Joe Perry also has more than just his guitar moments setting an example as he takes the lead vocals on "Walk on Down" and closes the album with the murky instrumental of "Boogie Man".

Of course, no post-1986 Aerosmith record would be complete with a couple of lush ballads which carry the album easily and this album is no different, with three songs on the second half all trademarks of the group's current setlist. "Cryin'" is perhaps the closest thing to a 1950s rock or 1960s soul song you're likely to hear anytime soon. The horns and harmonica only enhance the effort, but it's Perry's simple strumming and the rhythm section's coming to the fore that gives it such a shot in the arm. "Crazy" is basically a photocopy of the aforementioned ditty, but "Amazing" tends to be a bit more spiritual in its content and orchestral arrangement.

While many will still argue that Permanent Vacation and Pump are better, it is extremely difficult to argue with this collection for the simple fact so many of them are arena rock mantras or can induce 20,000 to wave bic lighters in the air. This album is perhaps the group's best album since the haze that was the 1970s.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

Award-winning folk artist Karine Polwart showcases humankind's innate link to the natural world in her spellbinding new music video.

One of the breakthrough folk artists of our time, Karine Polwart's work is often related to the innate connection that humanity has to the natural world. Her latest album, A Pocket of Wind Resistance, is largely reliant on these themes, having come about after Polwart observed the nature of a pink-footed geese migration and how it could be related to humankind's intrinsic dependency on one another.

Keep reading... Show less

Victory Is Never Assured in ‘Darkest Hour’

Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour (2017) (Photo by Jack English - © 2017 FOCUS FEATURES LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. / IMDB)

Joe Wright's sharp and only occasionally sentimental snapshot of Churchill in extremis as the Nazi juggernaut looms serves as a handy political strategy companion piece to the more abstracted combat narrative of Dunkirk.

By the time a true legend has been shellacked into history, almost the only way for art to restore some sense of its drama is to return to the moment and treat it as though the outcome were not a foregone conclusion. That's in large part how Christopher Nolan's steely modernist summer combat epic Dunkirk managed to sustain tension; that, and the unfortunate yet dependable historical illiteracy of much of the moviegoing public.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.