When your humble reviewer received his copy of the newest Aerosmith release, Rockin’ the Joint, I was looking forward to it — initially. Here I thought Aerosmith would pick up on the excellent 2004 tour coming off their best release in years, Honkin’ on Bobo, and would have a variety of great music to choose from. Yeah, Aerosmith has done live stuff before (most recently A Little South of Sanity, a Geffen contractual fulfillment), and to have it done in the smallish venue called The Joint inside Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Casino would make the intimacy and intensity go up several notches.
My bad… actually, no — their bad.
Unfortunately, the tour this release comes from a show that took place in 2002, right off the crappy Just Push Play album. The song selection is iffy at best. Oh, and to make matters even more enjoyable, I received one of those promotional CD’s that you can’t rip to your computer’s music library to transfer to my iPod. Now, the general public doesn’t give a shit about this last complaint (rightfully so), but in all honesty, I must thank Columbia Records for this, because what they inadvertently did was to keep this steaming pile of crap out of my ear range by not letting me put it on my computer or iPod. So Columbia, thank you — I don’t think you realize what a favor you just did for me (and I’m sure countless other critics, too).
Let’s list the positives first. The sound is crystal clear, so the crispness of Messrs. Tyler, Perry, Whitford, Hamilton, and Kramer (with Russ Irwin assisting on keyboards) comes blasting through. Of course, as it has been the last four or five tours, Aerosmith’s live show is a tight performance with just enough raggedness to keep things interesting. And a few of the songs, which can be found on other CDs in other live settings, still sound good. “Same Old Song and Dance”, “Season of Wither”, “Draw the Line”, and “Big Ten Inch Record” qualify as ear pleasers. The only two mammoth hits represented here are “Walk This Way” and “Train Kept a Rollin’ “, both fine.
The yin’s done — now for the yang. Twelve songs are listed here, but the opening thing is a 30-second piece of nothing called “Good Evening Las Vegas”. Does anyone really need to have “Beyond Beautiful”, “Light Inside”, or “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” live? The sequencing stinks — go from “Draw the Line” to “Miss a Thing”, and you’ll understand why those new “Jack” radio stations are also lousy.
Again, technically, the album sounds great. But the fact that it wasn’t Aerosmith’s most recent tour, the haphazard song selection, and the inclusion of songs nobody really cares about (diehards excepted) makes me wonder just why this album came out in the first place. Was it contractual? Was it something to add to the collection? Was it a holiday coffers lifter? Why couldn’t they cull tapes from last year’s tour and take the time to put together a really great live album? Why don’t they put out two live albums, one of their rock stuff and the other of their ballads for the ladies?
The answers to these and other similar questions will probably never be known. But what is known is that Rockin’ the Joint will probably be one of the only albums I ever review that gets its low rating not from the way the songs sound (that deserves about an 8), but the reason this thing was ever released in the first place, and why certain songs appear on said release. Aerosmith can do a lot better than this, and I certainly hope the band isn’t becoming a cash-cow wannabe. That remains to be seen — this album deserves to be hidden.