Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


It's the name that every James Bond fan whispers in their best Sean Connery impression. Spectre. You just tried to say it that way, right? Naturally, this Spectre organization is a bit different than the one we are familiar with. Much in the same way that Craig's Bond is a different Bond. 

Daniel Craig's James Bond has been an invigorating shot into the franchise. No disrespect to Pierce Brosnan or Timothy Dalton (we all forget about him, don't we?) intended. I know much has been said about how long Craig might stay Bond. I think even he said that Spectre would be his last, but I hope he doesn't trade in his suit and gun just yet. Same for Sam Mendes. They've been a helluva team for two movies. Although I fear that one or the other or both will hang it up for good now. 

Skyfall was fantastic and I consider it to be the best Bond movie ever made. Spectre did not better it although it certainly tried. This movie, I fear, will be considered somewhat of a failure. The reviews have been a bit lukewarm when not completely negative. Many say the same thing over and over again: It's not Skyfall. It's understandable. I just said it, too. 

But that isn't a bad thing. Skyfall was fantastic, but Spectre is still pretty damn good. It shouldn't be considered a slight. 

It's a worthy successor to Craig's previous films. Many of us just need time to accept this new Spectre and the new face of Spectre. Hell, some people are still trying to accept Craig as Bond. I think that's really what it is. This movie is a masterpiece in the Bond catalog. It's just not as good as a select few other masterpieces. 

The song sucks completely, but that's all that is really bad about the movie. I mean, whoever made the decision for Sam Smith to sing this is on drugs. It should be illegal for dudes to sing in falsetto on a Bond theme song. Illegal. I cringed the entire time. 

The opening credits montage was also somewhat in bad taste. Naked women, James Bond, and tentacles... I didn't know if I was watching a Bond movie or a live action hentai. 

Now onto the good things:

Christoph Waltz is the face of Spectre in this film. And yes, even though he's called Oberhauser, he really is the arch enemy of Bond we've all been waiting for. You know his real name. Waltz isn't quite the terrifying villain he was in Inglourious Basterds (many of us -myself included- will probably make or have made mental comparisons for some strange reason so I figured I'd just go ahead and say it... at no point does he put on a nazy uniform), but Waltz does offer the psychotic energy that seems to be required by all Bond villains just fine. Especially since the leader of Spectre is the ideal Bond villain. 

Daniel Craig is great, as always. His fights with Dave Bautista (whose character is close to what Jaws was in the Moore movies) were especially entertaining. 

Again, it'd be a shame to see Craig leave the role. 

I think there could be one more Bond movie to really draw the end of this rebooted Bond arc. Spectre, in some respects, feels just like part one of the end to me. As the end of this new Bond, this movie just doesn't quite hit all the notes. It ties up the previous Craig movies (although maybe too conveniently at times) and brings Bond to what seems to be the logical conclusion for his character to this point, but... Spectre seems too big of a deal to be one and done. Spectre can't be the end for this new Bond. 

Craig may or may not come back. Sam Mendes might not either. (I'm certainly more hopeful for Craig than Mendes.)

But Blofeld and Spectre seem like they are just getting warmed up. There's no way it can end here. Not this easy. 

We need Bond Vs. Blofeld one more time and it needs to have Craig and Waltz back for the rematch. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Aerosmith from Worst to First

Well, it was only a matter of time for this one. I've certainly talked about Aerosmith on my blog before: here and here. I hope no one faults me for kicking a dead horse, but I suppose I should just set the record straight and make my defining list for the band.

Unlike Sabbath or Purple, there aren't a whole lot of hidden gems with Aerosmith. A few albums in the murk, sure, but let's face it: Most people know Aerosmith. From the early days of Mama Kin to the mind-numbingly insulting I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, there isn't much John Q. Public doesn't know about Aerosmith.

The real question is just how shitty are their shittiest of albums? Well, had their career ended in 1984 this would be a pretty damn short and easy list. Their first five albums would be first in some order and then Night in the Ruts and Rock in a Hard Place would be last. However, we all know that did not happen.

Rock in a Hard Place, while not featuring either Joe Perry or Brad Whitford, is just a better album than so much of the post-comeback dreck that followed.

So the real question is "What is the worst of Aerosmith?" Well, I have listened to much of their catalog. Too much of it. I listened to Just Push Play and Music from Another Dimension twice for this thing. The sacrifices I made were indeed immense, but for them I am prepared to dish out the goods.

Although it's a good thing I Don't Want to Miss a Thing was never on an album (as far as the original release of an album is concerned) because that would have been the automatic "worst" for me. Words cannot describe how much I hate that song.

So without further preamble let's dispense with the list that will leave you scratching your head at the start, but raising your fist by the end.

15. Just Push Play - Just listening to Aerosmith attempt "rap rock" is atrocious. The whole Run-DMC thing was in the 80's, but by 2001 the rage was nu-metal and I guess the folks at the Aerosmith Corporation decided to cash in on that as well with songs like the nauseous title track and Outta Your Head. It makes you wonder if the badasses from Boston were taking drugs again. Or if they weren't then maybe they should start taking them again. I hate this album. I hate it. I wish I could offer a more constructive criticism on it other than just saying "it sucks," but there's only so much I can work with. This album is a malicious assault on the senses aimed more at Britney Spears fans than Aerosmith fans. So, hindsight always being 20/20, no one should have been surprised at Aerosmith's infamous Super Bowl halftime show with Britney and NSYNC in 2001. Gee, didn't this album come out around that time?

Beyond Beautiful 4:45
Just Push Play 3:51
Jaded 3:34
Fly Away from Here 5:01
Trip Hoppin' 4:27
Sunshine 3:37
Under My Skin 3:45
Luv Lies 4:26
Outta Your Head 3:22
Drop Dead Gorgeous 3:42
Light Inside 3:34
Avant Garden 4:52

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

14. Music from Another Dimension - How do you follow up a shitty album? Well, with another shitty album. I honestly didn't think it was possible to make an album that could possibly sound more phoned in and generic than Just Push Play, but Aerosmith did it, by God. And they made fans wait over a decade for this. At least, Axl's record was kinda good. To be fair, I should mention the highlights. What few there are.

Any song on which Joe Perry had an influence is decent and Out Go the Lights is good, but everything else pretty much sucks. Too many ballads. There's just no attitude elsewhere. Legendary Child attempts to rewrite their entire career into one song, but I guess they forgot they already did that a few times. This album is a wasted effort. I mean, if you like ballads than you've scored big. Although Get a Grip would work better for that.

I think the real disappointment comes from the fact that this album was supposed to be a comeback album. Like how Black Sabbath came back, maybe not completely but for the most part, to their roots with 13. Or even what Van Halen did with David Lee Roth on A Different Kind of Truth.

The only blues this album gives me is the one I get when I listen to this album and immediately want to listen to something else. Many bands are not given a chance to write another hard rocking album to really put that final stamp on their career, but what boggles my mind is that Aerosmith gets that chance time and time again and still somehow screws it up. 

LUV XXX 5:17
Oh Yeah 3:41
Beautiful 3:05
Tell Me 3:45
Out Go the Lights 6:55
Legendary Child 4:15
What Could Have Been Love 3:44
Street Jesus 6:43
Can't Stop Lovin' You (featuring Carrie Underwood) 4:04
Lover Alot 3:35
We All Fall Down 5:14
Freedom Fighter 3:19
Closer 4:04
Something 4:37
Another Last Goodbye 5:43 

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

13. Nine Lives - Everyone, meet Get a Grip Part II. It's a mostly hard-rocking album (in its own way) with a few ballads and with even more of a commercial mentality than that which preceded it. Mostly, I just don't care for this album. I don't own it, but I listened to it twice for the sake of this list and I don't really plan on listening to it again. It's bland. It's got every ingredient from every latter day Aerosmith album that I don't like, but just enough edge (if you can call it that) to keep me from actively disliking it. Falling in Love (is Hard on the Knees) could almost be a track off Permanent Vacation, but then songs like Pink and Hole in my Soul come on and I just lose interest. The Farm is okay, but Fallen Angels is hokum 

Too many attempts at crossovers and ballads. Old story. Although at least these ballads are a notch above the other Aerosmith ballads that would come afterwards and compared to Just Push Play this album is a fucking masterpiece.

Nine Lives 4:01
Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees) 3:26
Hole in My Soul 6:10
Taste of India 5:53
Full Circle 5:01
Something's Gotta Give 3:37
Ain't That a Bitch 5:25
The Farm 4:27
Crash 4:26
Kiss Your Past Good-Bye 4:32
Pink 3:55
Attitude Adjustment 3:45
Fallen Angels 8:16

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

12. Get a Grip - One thing Get a Grip started was the too long running times of Aerosmith albums and the repetitive songwriting. This was the first Aerosmith album to enter the 60+ minute mark. Prior to this the longest Aerosmith album had been Permanent Vacation, which ran at 51 minutes. Does a rock album really need to be longer than that? It's an age old question, for sure. Some bands succeed at tossing in everything including the kitchen sink, but others do not. I'm not sure the dreadful Intro was needed at all. That alone is enough to make me stop listening. However, Eat the Rich and Fever are some pretty damn good songs. The former being the most badass track on this album. The title track is a bit weak, but it's surrounded by strong tunes. Forgivable. Livin' on the Edge seems like a much more radio friendly version of Kings and Queens, but Joe Perry shines on the track. Flesh is a rocker but also a relatively forgettable song thanks to a fairly weak chorus. Gotta Love It is equally unimpressive and too fucking long. I thought that song would never end. Walk on Down is really good, though. Fucking awesome, actually. Joe Perry, more often than not, writes good material and you'll notice it's the only track on the album written solely by Perry. So, yes, that's a good one.

So what's bad about this album? Well, naturally there is a ballad, but that's not the issue. The issue is that there are three ballads: Cryin', Crazy, and Amazing. And all of those ballads are on the back half of the album and that makes for an incredibly weak ending to what had otherwise been a pretty decent effort. Certainly, Nickelback could not have planned it better.

So as this album goes on it really just drags the momentum into the ground. Pump ended with a ballad and so did just about every other Aerosmith album, but they only had one ballad apiece. I can live with that. The previous albums weren't overloaded. This album is overloaded. The ballads themselves aren't necessarily bad, but... there's just too many of them. Forfeiting two of the ballads and some sharper writing on the heavier tunes and this album could have been really good. Yes, it sold a lot when it was released and a lot of that is because of the ballads. I can't deny that. All of the albums previously mentioned were extremely successful with the exception of their newest. No arguing there. But there comes a time when rock fans such as myself want to throw down the lighters and raise the horns. There's too many fucking lighters here.

Of course, compared to Music from Another Dimension this album was a balls-to-the-wall throwback rocker. 

Intro 0:24
Eat the Rich 4:11
Get a Grip 3:59
Fever 4:15
Livin' on the Edge 6:07
Flesh 5:57
Walk on Down 3:39
Shut Up and Dance 4:56
Cryin' 5:09
Gotta Love It 5:58
Crazy 5:14
Line Up (featuring Lenny Kravitz) 4:03
Amazing 5:57
Boogie Man 2:17

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

11. Rock and A Hard Place - You know, it could be heresy listing an album that doesn't feature Joe Perry so high on this list. If eleventh place out of fifteen spots could be considered high. Brad Whitford is also largely absent from this album with his only appearance being on Lightning Strikes. Instead we have Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay on the guitars. Who is Rick Dufay? I have no idea and I'm too lazy to Google it.

I stated before that I like this album. Not a lot, but it fits the mold of classic Aerosmith more than all of the albums mentioned above. It's not a true Aerosmith album to me because of the lineup issues, but it's good enough to warrant its spot. No runaway hits, but it's solid and you don't have to worry about too many ballads.

Jailbait 4:38
Lightning Strikes 4:26
Bitch's Brew 4:14
Bolivian Ragamuffin 3:32
Cry Me a River 4:06
Prelude to Joanie 1:21
Joanie's Butterfly 5:35
Rock in a Hard Place (Cheshire Cat) 4:46
Jig Is Up 3:10
Push Comes to Shove 4:28

Lineup: Jimmy Crespo, Rick Dufay, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

10. Honkin' On Bobo - Aerosmith can do covers like just about nobody else and unlike many other bands, Aerosmith can make a cover album really good even when they are going through the worst slump of their career. The album title may suck (or blow), but that's the only thing bad about this album. Their one original song The Grind more or less fits in with the others and I could have sworn that was a cover as well until I read the credits. Their choices are far from obvious ones and that what makes this album so important. This is a rock album that longtime fans didn't know they were looking for. I'm actually surprised that there wasn't something by The Beatles on here considering how Aerosmith had covered two of their songs before. But Aerosmith went with a theme of blues and stuck with it. Normally, I don't respect cover albums much, but since I appreciate this one so much I think a top ten spot should suffice. It's pretty damn good. The best Aerosmith has been in the last 20 years. Unfortunately, it is still a cover album. 

Road Runner 3:46
Shame, Shame, Shame 2:15
Eyesight to the Blind 3:09
Baby, Please Don't Go 3:24
Never Loved a Girl 3:12
Back Back Train 4:23
You Gotta Move 5:30
The Grind 3:46
I'm Ready 4:13
Temperature 2:52
Stop Messin' Around 4:29
Jesus Is on the Main Line 2:51

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

09. Nights in the Ruts -  I'm actually surprised I put this album in the top ten, but it's not that bad. Like the album that followed it, Night in the Ruts doesn't boast of any instant classics and yet it's a pretty tough album in it's own right. Perry is featured on the album, but he left the group before finishing it and that's when Jimmy Crespo stepped in. The album is heavy and a return to the old Aerosmith sound that changed a bit for Draw the Line, but it's a step down from the hot streak the band had been on.

No Surprize 4:25
Chiquita 4:24
Remember (Walking in the Sand) 4:03
Cheese Cake 4:15
Three Mile Smile 3:40
Reefer Head Woman 4:03
Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy) 2:58
Think About It 3:31
Mia 4:15

Lineup: Joe Perry, Jimmy Crespo, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

08. Done with Mirrors  - This was the first album that the reformed and newly sober Aerosmith made. The band, based on what I've read, doesn't like this album very much. When it was released it didn't exactly break down any doors and scream to the world, "Aerosmith is back!" However, time has been kind to this album. Let the Music Do the Talking, Joe Perry's song from his solo band, works just fine as an Aerosmith track. It's a fitting opener and the strongest song from the band since the heydays of Rocks. My Fist Your Face is an equally impressive track. It's an asskicker. Shame on You has a certain swagger that only riff-based rock songs can bring. Maybe it's not the best song, but it's got attitude. That's something many of their later albums would lack. Although this album doesn't quite have the same bite and it loses steam as it goes on, this album was a throwback to their 70's reign. As such, I think it should be viewed as one of their stronger albums. Back when they actually tried. For me, this is where the list gets fun. Everything from here on will be albums I actually want to talk about.

Let the Music Do the Talking 3:48
My Fist Your Face 4:23
Shame on You 3:22
The Reason a Dog 4:13
Shela 4:25
Gypsy Boots 4:16
She's on Fire 3:47
The Hop 3:45
Darkness 3:43

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

07. Permanent Vacation - This album, in retrospect, marked the beginning of the end for Aerosmith as a gritty hard rock band. Yes, it helped to revive their career. Not arguing that. Although, their duet with Run-DMC was also a major ingredient for their return to the limelight. (Personally, I'm okay with never hearing any version of Walk This Way other than the original again.) Aerosmith made this album to really break into the mainstream so they went all out. Angel, one of the more disgustingly syrupy ballads I've ever heard, isn't really that bad since it is essentially the only power ballad on this album. Aerosmith always put a ballad on their albums so it's never surprising and sometimes they are good, but 80's rock ballads are totally different monsters than 70's rock ballads. However, Angel is tame compared to I Don't Want to Miss a Thing and just about everything from Music from Another Dimension. So I guess, on the levels of hell, post-2000's ballads are worse than 80's ones. (Dude) Looks Like a Lady, a song I will forever associate rather fondly with Mrs. Doubtfire, is always fun. Rag Doll, the other big name song from this album, is also a fun song.

Yet it's the opener Heart's Done Time that sets the tone for the album. The guitar sound is closer to a Dokken album than 70's Aerosmith album, but there's clearly a fire in the group on this one and that overcomes a lot of the aspects of the album that date it. This album still has a refreshing feel everytime I listen to it, but it drags on a song or two too long.

Heart's Done Time 4:42
Magic Touch 4:37
Rag Doll 4:25
Simoriah 3:22
Dude (Looks Like a Lady) 4:25
St. John 4:10
Hangman Jury 5:33
Girl Keeps Coming Apart 4:13
Angel 5:08
Permanent Vacation 4:49
I'm Down 2:20
The Movie 4:04

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

06. Get Your Wings - Many consider this to be Aerosmith's first real album because their first one is so vastly different than the formula that would define their early success. This was the first time anyone heard Steven Tyler's real singing voice. As I'll talk about below, Tyler changed his voice on the first album. This time he was himself. The band was much more comfortable and they wrote some really good tunes. Same Old Song and Dance is probably the most notable song from this album, but their performance of Train Kept A-Rollin' (dubbed over with audience noise) is also an Aerosmith classic.

Get Your Wings is essential listening for any Aerosmith fan and any fan of hard rock, but it's not quite in the elite album category. Aerosmith would soon get there, though. So will this list.

Same Old Song and Dance 3:53
Lord of the Thighs 4:14
Spaced 4:21
Woman of the World 5:49
S.O.S. (Too Bad) 2:51
Train Kept A-Rollin' 5:33
Seasons of Wither 5:38
Pandora's Box 5:43

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

05. Draw the Line - Following up a classic is tough. Following two classics while battling addictions and egos is close to unimaginable. Undoubtedly, Aerosmith did the unimaginable and released their final classic album until 1989's Pump. Of course, it's not as good as the two albums that preceded it, but it's amazing the album is as good as it is considering what they were up against. The title track is a good one, but the strongest moment on the album has to be Kings and Queens. By far, that's my favorite Aerosmith song. The subject matter is a bit atypical of Aerosmith and so is the delivery. Brad Whitford (who actually soloed on the song) and Tom Hamilton play well off each other on it.

Critical Mass is incredibly Beatle-esque and one of their more experimental songs. It wouldn't surprise me if they did a few lines before recording it. Bright Light Fright is Joe Perry's time to shine on the vocals and it's a suitably uptempo number.

The only song on this album that doesn't really strike me is The Hand the Feeds. I didn't care for Tyler's vocal delivery on that. The rest of the album is killer, though.

Draw the Line 3:23 
I Wanna Know Why 3:09 
Critical Mass 4:53 
Get It Up 4:02 
Bright Light Fright 2:19 
Kings and Queens 4:55 
The Hand That Feeds 4:23 
Sight for Sore Eyes 3:56 
Milk Cow Blues 4:14

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

04. AerosmithDream On was the first song I ever heard by Aerosmith as a young'un. I heard it on the radio all of the time. I loved how dark it sounded despite its overall positive message. I also remember hearing GN'R's cover of Mama Kin plenty of times on the GN'R Lies album, too. I heard those songs so many times before actually going to Aerosmith's first album and giving it a proper listen. In some ways, ithis album reminds me of Black Sabbath's first album in that it was different from everything that came after. Steven Tyler's voice sounded so much deeper. He could still screech, but on many songs he just sounds so different. Tyler apparently changed his voice to sound like Kermit the Frog because he didn't like the way he sounded. It's a shame he changed his voice, but it does add a strange appeal to this album. 

One song I really like is Movin' Out. I think it's my second favorite Aerosmith song. I just like that riff. Make It also starts with a kick-ass riff. It's the perfect way to start a career. Critics may not have loved this album when it came out and it might not be considered to be one of the great debut albums in rock to this day, but it should be. This is Aerosmith's first album and it's a pretty good one. 

Make It 3:41
Somebody 3:45
Dream On 4:28
One Way Street 7:00
Mama Kin 4:25
Write Me a Letter 4:11
Movin' Out 5:03
Walkin' the Dog 3:12

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

03. Pump - This album flows incredibly well. Almost like a suite. It's pretty easy to listen to this album in one sitting because the songwriting and song placement is top notch. Most big name bands wouldn't dare attempt a song like Janie's Got a Gun. A song about incest and murder... it's hard to believe that this song became a hit. And it sounds so happy on the surface. That's brilliant writing. Something they haven't managed since.

That's not to say this album isn't fun. Love in the Elevator is an excellent counterpoint to the grimness of Janie's Got a Gun

Joe Perry really lets it rip on this album, too. I mean, he's soloed on just about every Aerosmith album, but he sounds like he was at the top of his game here. 

Pump also sounds less dated than Permanent Vacation and that helps. It's an album that sounds like it could still be made by the band today. Of course, we all get burned by that hope again and again, but that's what makes this album special. Some fans may disagree, but this is the pinnacle of latter day Aerosmith and it rocks just as hard as their old stuff. 

Young Lust 4:18
F.I.N.E. 4:09
Going Down/Love in an Elevator 5:39
Monkey on My Back 3:57
Water Song/Janie's Got a Gun 5:38
Dulcimer Stomp/The Other Side 4:56
My Girl 3:10
Don't Get Mad, Get Even 4:48
Hoodoo/Voodoo Medicine Man 4:39
What It Takes 5:11

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler

02. Rocks - I often think of the album as Toys in the Attic's evil twin. It's heavier and downright meaner. The dual guitar threat of Perry and Whitford is especially strong here. James Hetfield and Slash point to this album as being a huge influence on them and it's easy to see why. This album lives up to its title. Toys in the Attic has the bigger hits, but Rocks has the bigger balls. Or should I say "stones."

Back in the Saddle 4:40 
Last Child 3:26 
Rats in the Cellar 4:05 
Combination 3:39 
Sick as a Dog 4:16 
Nobody's Fault 4:21 
Get the Lead Out 3:41 
Lick and a Promise 3:05 
Home Tonight 3:15

01. Toys in the Attic - So you wondered what number one would be? Well, you probably knew what it was the entire time. Although, it was tough to place Rocks at number two spot. It's tough to argue against Toys in the Attic. I tried. I wanted to flip flop the first two spots, but I just can't justify it. Rocks is excellent, but Toys in the Attic ranks up there with albums like Led Zeppelin IV, Aqualung, and Paranoid. It's the be-all, end-all Aerosmith album.

Oddly enough, my favorite song on this album is Round and Round. That's a fucking brutal metal song right there. Had that song and/or Sweet Emotion been on Rocks, I think there'd definitely be a switch at the top of this list. As it is, Toys in the Attic is number one. 

Toys in the Attic 3:07 
Uncle Salty 4:09 
Adam's Apple 4:33 
Walk This Way 3:41 
Big Ten Inch Record 2:16 
Sweet Emotion 4:34 
No More No More 4:34 
Round and Round 5:03
You See Me Crying 5:12

Lineup: Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, Steven Tyler