Tuesday, February 7, 2012

[AeroTuesday] "Get Your Wings" (1974)

(Author's Disclaimer: the following was written while I was in the throes of a particularly nasty cold.  Mistakes - and things that just plain don't make sense to anyone whose head isn't swimming in soup - will be corrected later in the week.  Comparisons of my current head space and the band's similarly muddy, if induced by drugs less legal than NyQuil, one whilst making this album will be snickered at and dismissed.)

LORD OF THE THIGHS!  End of review.

Alright, well not really, but my point is this: if that song doesn't offer everything you could want out of your loud rock 'n' roll, then maybe you and I had best not do lunch anytime soon.  The clever, snarled - not to mention cleverly snarled - lyrics.  The funky, swaggering beat (really, there are fewer more underrated rhythm sections than Kramer/Hamilton).  The growling, proto-punk guitar tone that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the Social Distortion album I was listening to this morning.  The not-quite-buried piano that puts the whole thing over the top.  In terms of sex, swagger and smarts - always the criteria by which rock 'n' roll should be judged, by the way - it's hard to imagine anyone else's 4:14 that delivers more.

The general consensus of other criticism I've read seems to be that while Get Your Wings marks a major step forward from the debut it isn't quite in the same class as the twin masterpieces that followed it.  Sorry, but only the first half of that statement works for me.  The production isn't quite as tight as it would become, but there is absolutely no difference in quality between these eight songs and the ones on Toys in the Attic or RocksGet Your Wings is the work of a band freshly confident in their sound, and a singer who's just figured out the moves and mannerisms that will make him iconic in short order.  In many ways, Steven Tyler is the reason that the Aerosmith of Get Your Wings sounds so much more like a band that's truly gone pro than the band captured on their debut.  On that record, you could compare him to several of his contemporaries; on Get Your Wings, he's become the front man to whom endless others will be compared.  That's a hugely important shift.

Then there's the songs.  We've already slobbered over "Lord of the Thighs", and you should already know all about "Same Old Song and Dance" and that riff.  The album's other hit-in-retrospect was their cover of "Train Kept a Rollin'", which immediately rendered all previous versions (sorry Yardbirds) as well as all future ones (sorry Motörhead) utterly unnecessary.  For all of that, though, the great secret of Get Your Wings lies in its lesser-known half: the massive crunch of "SOS (Too Bad)", the authentic funk of "Pandora's Box", some of the toughest-sounding psychedelia ever put to vinyl in "Spaced", and that's all before we even mention...

SEASONS OF WITHER!  End of need for bands to ever record ballads again, with the possible exception of "Mandocello".  Sublime, beautiful, timeless, cheese factor of zero.  Just like the rest of the album, but even more so.

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