Without question, Rocks is my favorite Aerosmith record. While not what we would consider to be metal nowadays, Aerosmith have undoubtedly inspired several bands in the genre ranging from glam metal bands (Guns N Roses) to thrash metal artists (Metallica). Rocks is a major reason why such bands look back on Aerosmith with such fondness.
The album starts with two classic rock songs in “Back in The Saddle” and “Last Child”. Both songs are mid paced in terms of tempo, and feature some excellent riffing by the duo of Joe Perry and the less-praised Brad Whitford. “Rats In The Cellar” is the most up beat song on Rocks, featuring some great harmonica playing by Steven Tyler as well as a great chorus. Some of the riffing during and following the solo section reminds me of what would go on to be known as speed/thrash metal, kind of like how Metallica would close songs in the Kill em All era.
“Combination” is an overlooked song on the album. Written by Joe Perry, “Combination” features great dueling vocals by Perry and Tyler, as well as a nice dirty (if that makes sense) rhythm guitar sound. “Sick as a Dog” may be my favorite song on Rocks. This song features bassist Tom Hamilton switching to guitar and Perry playing the bass (though he plays the guitar solo at the outro). The vocal delivery and the melody are very sing-along-able. It’s a rock song that is somewhat lighter in nature compared to many of the other songs.
“Nobody’s Fault” is a heavier, mid paced tune. I’m a fan of Joey Kramer’s drumming on this track, which stands out the most to me. “Get The Lead Out” is probably the song on Rocks that most resembles what the band would produce in the late 80s and early 90s, particularly during the verse. The bluesy guitar and vocal tradeoffs work to great effect. “Lick and a Promise” has something more of an old-school rock n roll vibe to it, though slightly heavier. Surprisingly, there is only one legitimate ballad on this one, “Home Tonight”. It’s a beautiful song with great vocals by Tyler and effective melodic lead guitar playing to support the song structure.
This is one of those albums I haven’t listened to in about a year, and while revisiting it, I still can’t find any major flaws in it worth complaining about. The production is good for it’s time, and every song is memorable and well executed. An essential listen!