Album Cover Front




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AEROSMITH (1973)

Details:

Columbia/CBS KC/CA/PCT-32005 (Jan. 5, 1973)
Columbia/CBS CK-32847 (1987 — CD reissue)
Columbia/SME CK/CT-57361 (Sept. 7, 1993 — 20-bit SBM digital remaster)
Columbia/SME 88765486131 (Apr. 20, 2013 — 180g LP reissue)

Tracks:

A1. Make It (3:41) - Steven Tyler
A2. Somebody (3:45) - Steven Tyler, Steven Emspak
A3. Dream On (4:28) - Steven Tyler
(USA 9/73, #59)
A4. One Way Street (7:00) - Steven Tyler
B1. Mama Kin (4:25) - Steven Tyler
B2. Write Me (4:11) - Steven Tyler
B3. Movin' Out (5:03) - Steven Tyler, Joe Perry
B4. Walkin' the Dog (3:12) - Rufus Thomas

Notes:

Produced by Adrian Barber. Engineered by Adrian Barber and Caryl Weinstock assisted by Bob Stoughton. Recorded at Intermedia Sound, Boston, Mass., during October 1972. Cover design by Ed Lee and Hiroshi Morishima. Cover photograph by Robert Agriopoulos. Tracks A3 & B2 were later remixed by Ray Colcord. The original issue credited B2 as "Write Me," but some later reissues used the full "Write Me A Letter" title (which was also used on the song's copyright registration and album center-rings). 2013 vinyl pressing remastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, New York City, New York.

Performance credits:

Mama Kin - David Woodford on saxophone.
Write Me - David Woodford on saxophone.

Chart Action:

Chart Peak (USA): #21 (4/3/1976) with 59 weeks on the Billboard charts, though it initially only reached #166 during 1973. Other countries: CAN #58 (1976)



Singles:

Dream On - Chart Peak (USA): #59 on its release in 1973. When reissued in Jan. 1976 the single would eventually peak at #6; CAN #90 (1973) and #10 (1976).



RIAA/Sales:

In the United States, the album was certified Gold by the RIAA on Sept. 11, 1975, and Platinum and 2X Platinum on Nov. 21, 1986. Gold by the CRIA (Canada - 50,000 units) on Nov. 1, 1976, and Platinum on May 1, 1979. During the SoundScan era, the album had sold 347,332 copies between 1991 and 2007.

Album Focus:

Paired with the success of the "Dream On" single, the album entered the Billboard Top 200 charts at #190 on Oct. 13 (having bubbled under from Sept. 8 at #209). In the United States, the album was certified Gold by the RIAA, on Sept. 11, 1975, receiving simultaneous platinum and 2X platinum certifications on Nov. 21, 1986. Gold by the CRIA (Canada - 50,000 units) on Nov. 1, 1976, and Platinum on May 1, 1979. During the SoundScan era, the album sold 347,332 copies between 1991 and 2007. In the U.S., the album charted four separate times on Billboard's Top-200 for a cumulative 58-week charting. It initially enjoyed a 9-week continuous run peaking at #166 (12/8/1973) and charted on Cashbox for 8 weeks reaching #141 in early December. While not spectacular by any means, the charting of an album released January 5 was impressive, with peak interest building right at the time the band were recording their second album. Eventually, assisted by the re-release of "Dream On," the album reached its overall high position of #21 on Apr. 3, 1976.

It was an awkward situation when Columbia released both Aerosmith and Bruce Springsteen's debut albums on the same day, Jan. 5. It was clear which of the two acts they favored with the majority of promotional efforts favoring Bruce. According to David Krebs, "For every dollar they [Columbia] spent on Springsteen, they spent a penny on us." And for Steven, the difference was palpable in different ways, "We feel that the album cover (of the first) really set us back. We feel the production set us back, and then they didn't help us for nine months" (Los Angeles Free Press, 1/25/1974). Local radio DJs such as Ron Robin at WVBF and Maxanne Sartori at WBCN were early champions for the band in the face of opposition from their own program directors. If the band weren't immediately satisfied to have an album out, then they were keen to prove the music to live audiences. And if they couldn't rely on label promotion, or broader airplay, they'd have to make their reputation on the road. Aerosmith's first major tour support slot mismatched them with the jazz fusion Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was quickly clear who the audience had come to see. The pairing didn't work on any level, for either band or audience. Aerosmith were booed or, even worse, ignored and treated with contempt. Still, the opportunity provided a challenge to rise to the occasion and attempt to win over new listeners or simply perform better in the face of adversity. One firsthand account recalls Joe flipping off the audience and turning the amps up higher at one show. According to Joe, "When you're a baby band looking to open for a more prominent act, you can't be choosy. Your hope is that their audience will become your audience. It's a way to expand your fan base. But in the instance of our first tour with a name band, that didn't happen. Our managers had us opening for the Mahavishnu Orchestra, whose sophisticated audience had no interest in what we were playing... Their audience had come to hear musical masters, not some up-and-coming garage band" (Perry, Joe - "Rocks: My Life in and Out of Aerosmith"). It was a learning experience for both band and management. According to David Krebs, "The first time I let this band out of the box I got burned. I let my booking agent talk me into having them open for the Mahavishnu Orchestra — which, on a scale from zero to a hundred, turned out to be a definite minus. But we learned to play our market so that Aerosmith opened for acts that were slightly on the downslide — bands whose audience we could cop. Even if we didn't blow them off the stage every time, we could at least count on some to buy an Aerosmith album" (Rolling Stone #220, 8/26/1976).

An industry observer later opined a key point: "The system isn't designed to spotlight the newcomer. It's built strictly for the headliner. Aerosmith was an exception. Leber and Krebs (Aerosmith's managers) beat the system. They carefully placed Aerosmith on the bill with headliners who could still draw a crowd but were on the decline. So, what happened? Aerosmith blew the headliners off the stage, night after night. They wowed the kids ... But the industry is geared against that happening. If you're the manager of a headliner, you want an opening act that is 'compatible.' That usually means 'harmless.' No one wants to be upstaged" (Los Angeles Times, 11/27/1977). Following the brief stint with Mahavishnu, the band performed on a series of dates opening for the Kinks. One would think that a pairing with a British Invasion act of that type would be perfect, but it wasn't. While the band may not have liked how they were treated (not being allowed to sound-check), they at least had a more compatible audience that to try and win over. The road forced them to up their game and become a powerhouse to win each new audience. But there was more to it than just that, according to David Krebs, once they had established a regional foothold: "This band could only make it from two vantage points: 1) They had a really strong following in Boston, which is definitely a result of Frank's strength in the area; and 2) they were brilliant on the road." The band's reputation started building and they were picked up by Circus, Creem, and more importantly, regional rock mags, spreading the word. After a summer treading water in the high schools and local venues, Aerosmith finally found a more compatible touring partner with Mott the Hoople. The band had released their Mott album during the summer as "Dream On" started to rise. While in decline, the band still scored a top-40 album without the benefit of single success in the United States (both "All the Way from Memphis" and "Honaloochie Boogie" stiffed). But they were still pulling halfway decent audiences on the middle tier of venues, an appropriate next rung on the ladder for Aerosmith.

Being placed on concert bills playing throughout the country, and not relying on the coasts, also benefited the band, but the Mott tour was their first big touring break. Tom recalled, "That was early 1974, and we had our first album. But we were basically out on the road fighting for our life at that point. We had been getting on tours where we were opening for bands that were completely different than us. We were not opening for very receptive audiences... After a few tours like that we got that Mott the Hoople tour. It was great because we were on a bill that was at least in the same genre: a rock band. And we got a special guest star billing on that tour which meant we had more room on stage, and we had sound checks — now and then. We got a decent dressing room. That tour is where the band really, really made it... I had my first hotel destroying experience. We came home from the gig. And, as usual, we got together with the Mott the Hoople guys to have a party. We were actually in the lead singer of Mott the Hoople, Ian Hunter's room. He wasn't even there. Some of us and some of them got roaring high and trashed the room. Then we all left. The next morning Aerosmith flew on to the next town, but Mott the Hoople had a later flight. So, before they got to the airport, the police came over and busted poor Ian and took him to jail" (Penn Live, 4/30/2014). For management, the tour proved more. David Krebs recalled, "The Mott the Hoople tour proved that the band had what it takes to make it."

"Dream On" was almost too obvious a choice for the band's first single, but it wasn't something their management initially wanted to release as a single. David Krebs recalled, "I used to believe that you should not release a single that is not representative of what the group is about live. Now 'Dream On' is an isolated song in terms of Aerosmith's rock & roll career... 'Dream On' was the last resort. We always felt that it was the strongest song on the album, but we did not feel it was a song that was the image that we wanted the group to conjure up" (Record World, 12/13/1975). But management, who felt that the Dolls were failing due to a lack of airplay and generally poor live performance reception, knew they needed radio play to balance the other side of the equation that Aerosmith was already delivering on — consistent live performance quality in mid-size halls (something the Dolls couldn't do). It would be lazy to describe the single version as an edit. It's more than that, a butchering of the 4:28 original with sections chopped, moved around, but most importantly it includes elemental additions that change so many of its qualities in comparison with the album version. The introduction section is reduced to the initial acoustic picking with faux orchestral backing. With the longer 24-second part being discarded, just 13 seconds remain to set the tone before the song jumps into the first verse. The bass remains prominent with Joey's percussion and Steven's haunting vocal. As the verse builds to its foot-stomping crescendo, the edit awkwardly jumps the needle to what would be the second chorus on the album version. However, additional choral vocals are layered on providing more of a soaring gospel seasoning that detracts from the guitars.

The song moves into the second verse, which is followed by the same chorus as the first, though as was the case with the first, the lead guitar is muted. Instead of leading into the dual guitar picked break section, it goes straight into the chorus repetitions with electric leads that continue to the fade out. By the late summer of 1973, the single was finally lurking around the nether regions of the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts. It would bubble under (lurk just outside of charting) prior to charting properly at #88 on Oct. 20, following which it enjoyed a brief 9-week run reaching a high of #59 on Dec. 1. It also entered Cashbox's chart at #100 on Oct. 6, charting for 11 weeks and ultimately peaking at #43. While Aerosmith's "Greatest Hits" liner notes suggest that the single had been released on June 27, contemporary trade publications suggest the single was issued in late August or early September. Whatever the case, the single (Columbia 4-45894) was backed with "Somebody" and enjoyed strong regional rotation before Columbia was able to get enough stock distributed and push airplay nationally. Like "Dream On," the single version of "Somebody" was edited, reducing the track's duration from 3:45 to 3:08. It was more than appropriate that 1973 would be capped by the band's national television debut, performing the song on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" on Dec. 15, immediately prior to them starting work on a new album... (Excerpt from "Aerosmith on Tour, Vol. 1").

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