With each new Aerosmith album the debate rages as to whether The Bio-degradable Brothers, or Toxic Twins as they were famously dubbed during their years of drug excess, have sold out, diluted their classic swaggering sound and cashed in.
As a mish-mash of the band's two easily definable eras, Just Push Play does nothing to suggest that the Boston rockers are convincingly back to their Columbia Records heyday of snarling, classic rock, nor does it confirm that Aerosmith are just spewing out more of the commercially minded rock that re-made their name with albums like Pump and Get a Grip on the Geffen label.
Fans of "Sweet Emotion" and the like will no doubt require medical assistance to bring them round after hearing the Grandfather of all young rock pretenders Steven Tyler, rap in a Jamaican Patois on the horrendous title track. But they will soon be resuscitated by the more familiar vocal rasp of Tyler on raunchy opener "Beyond Beautiful".
Likewise, first single "Jaded" (which is a definite grower, it has to be said) and piano ballad "Fly Away From Here" will appeal to those fans expecting a repeat of "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" and those who probably think Aerosmith have only been around five or 10 years. Interestingly, "Fly Away From Here" is the only track on the album solely written by outside writers, and predictably will be released as a single.
This is the crux of the problem with the modern day Aerosmith. In the year when the band has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it's hard to decide what will anger veteran fans more -- seeing such throwaway garbage released as a single under the proud Aerosmith moniker, or seeing the band cavorting onstage with Britney Spears and 'N Sync at the Superbowl recently. But the fact remains that, for Aerosmith to remain contemporary, they must play the music industry game.
Despite the fact that some of this album makes me Just Push Skip rather than follow the instructions of the title track, there are numerous moments of pure Aerosmith brilliance that justify tolerance of the weaker songs. Tyler's mastery of the double entendre one liner on the rocking "Outta Your Head" ("All this time did you ever think / That the girl sees red when a man sees pink") while the old Joe Perry guitar magic is still in evidence on "Light Inside" and "Under My Skin". Standout cut has to be the superb "Trip Hoppin" which picks up where "Beyond Beautiful" left off and soars with some great Horns courtesy of the Tower Of Power.
Just Push Play is almost the history of Aerosmith in one handy reference -- elements of the classic sound that gave the band success and the more commercial appeal of recent albums which spectacularly relaunched their career are found in equal measure. Although Just Push Play won't banish memories of Aerosmith circa Get Your Wings, it proves at the very least that the band still have a relevance that prevents them being marketed as a mere nostalgia act three decades after forming.