[Review] Aerosmith: Rock in a Hard Place (1982)

They were in a hard place alright: down two guitarists and out of ideas.

Kronomyth 8.0: A cheap trick.

If someone tells you this is an underrated album, it’s a near certainty they’re harboring an Aerosmith tattoo somewhere on their body. Since I’ve only got the one cheesy-looking skull tattoo, you can take my word for it when I tell you this album stinks. Rock in a Hard Place is an Aerosmith album in name only. You can’t replace Joe Perry with Jimmy Crespo and get away with it, and replacing Brad Whitford with a Frenchman is just wrong on so many levels. No French person in the history of the world has ever rocked, not even a little. (I’m only kidding, of course. I’m sure lots of French people rock; they’re just very discreet about it.)

Bringing back original producer Jack Douglas is a nice gesture, but Steven Tyler was too far gone to bring back. I mean, there’s running out of good ideas, and then there’s being so bereft of anything that even remotely resembles a good idea that you find yourself unconsciously singing the words from the Burger King tv commercial (Bolivian Ragamuffin). Barring a scenario in which the entire band is abducted by aliens and experimented on, the only possible explanation for an album this bad is drug abuse.

Tyler has always courted the edge of excess in his vocals, but he sounds completely wasted on Push Comes to Shove and Jailbait. Not every song on here is terrible; Lightning Strikes, Bitch’s Brew and Rock in a Hard Place are pretty good. But for every song that has you thinking maybe the Perry-less adventures of Aerosmith might be interesting after all, there’s a horrible song that immediately clears you of any such disillusionment, like the Joanie’s Butterfly debacle or a version of Cry Me A River that one can only assume was recorded while Steven Tyler’s genitals were hundreds of miles away being dipped in a stem-cell solution in Zurich, Switzerland.

I personally believe this album never should have been recorded, but it was, and I’m not building a time machine just to go back and tell Brad Whitford that Whitford-St.Holmes would fold after one album—at least not until after I’d shown a young Adolf Hitler that he could pick up women by playing the ukelele, so my recommendation to you would be to ignore this album altogether. Or build your own time machine. Just don’t forget to bring a copy of Whitford-St.Holmes and a ukelele.

Original elpee version

A1. Jailbait (Steven Tyler/Jimmy Crespo) (4:39)
A2. Lightning Strikes (Richie Supa) (4:26)
A3. Bitch’s Brew (Steven Tyler/Jimmy Crespo) (4:13)
A4. Bolivian Ragamuffin (Steven Tyler/Jimmy Crespo) (3:33)
A5. Cry Me a River (Arthur Hamilton) (4:06)
B1. Prelude to Joanie (Steven Tyler) (1:30)
B2. Joanie’s Butterfly (Steven Tyler/Jimmy Crespo/Jack Douglas) (5:32)
B3. Rock in a Hard Place (Cheshire Cat) (Steven Tyler/Jimmy Crespo/Jack Douglas) (4:41)
B4. Jig Is Up (Steven Tyler/Jimmy Crespo) (3:10)
B5. Push Comes to Shove (Steven Tyler) (4:27)

The Players

Jimmy Crespo (lead guitar), Rick Dufay (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass), Joey Kramer (drums), Steven Tyler (vocals, keyboards. Harmonica, percussion) with Jack Douglas (percussion), Paul Harris (piano on B5), John Lievano (guitar O.D. on B2), Richard Straub (violins on B2), John Turi (sax on B3), Brad Whitford (rhythm guitar on A2).

The Pictures

Photography and visual direction by Gerard Rozhek.

The Plastic

Released on elpee on August 1, 1982 in the US (Columbia, FC 38061), the UK (CBS, 85931), Brazil (CBS, 138551), Canada (Columbia, WFC 38061) and Japan (CBS/Sony, 25AP-2407). Reached #32 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee and compact disc in the US (Columbia, PC/CK 38061).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in Australia (CBS, 466719-2).
  3. Re-released on 20-bit remastered compact disc in 1993 in the US (Columbia, CK 57368).

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