First things first: I am perfectly aware that some of you saw that I decided to lump the Armageddon soundtrack in with this week’s review and began salivating in anticipation of the seemingly inevitable ripping-to-shreds. I’m gonna let you down early, then: it’s not exactly going to go down that way. Surprised?
My tastes – even the relatively small percentage of them that I’ve written about on this blog – are what they are: louder, faster, skip the damned ballads! It’s no surprise (surprize?) then that “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” probably wouldn’t even make my Aero-Top-100. Long ago, Diane Warren and I decided to simply admit we had very different tastes and leave it at that. Still, no matter how undeniably cheese-tastic the end result is, I just can’t find it in my heart to dump on Steven Tyler for wanting to record the big theme from a film that was poised to be his daughter’s breakout success as an actress. It’s a noble, charming thing to do, and the fact that millions of record-buyers liked it made it squarely a win for everybody besides me. In this case, I’ll happily lump it. Besides: no matter what my opinion of the relative quality of the song as a composition, Tyler sings it extraordinarily well. Listen in a bit closer the next time you’re stuck with it in the post office or Walgreen’s or wherever, and you’ll hear what I mean.
Moving right along, then….wait, there was another new Aero-tune on the Armageddon soundtrack? There was indeed: a rocker called “What Kind of Love are You On”, to be precise. It’s not a bad little number, either; while it’s never completely captured my imagination, Rhea loves it to bits. I’ll completely defer to her on this one, as should you.
On to A Little South of Sanity for real this time: it’s okay. More than okay, actually: it’s fairly decent. Jack Douglas, who mixed the whole thing, gets the sort of beefy, ballsy sound he’s held in such high regard for, and the generous twenty-three song track list gives you a good idea of what Aerosmith was playing live in the mid ‘90s, and what they sounded like then. So, given all of that, why do I never end up pulling it off the shelf? Because, despite its charms, it’s still a patched-together contract-filler. Is it better than you’d assume the second you saw the Geffen – and not Columbia/Sony – logo on the back cover? Absolutely. Is it at all necessary in a post-file-sharing world where any number of well-recorded, full shows from the same era is little more than a few seconds of Google-fu and download-delay away? Not so much.
Might it then serve as a decent, well-recorded sampler and advertisement for how great Aerosmith, regardless of anyone’s opinion of the quality of their contemporaneous studio output, was on stage at the time? Yeah, I think that’s the ticket. You could easily go your whole life without ever hearing A Little South of Sanity and be none the poorer for it. You could also throw it on during your ride to work tomorrow and smile a bit wider for having done so.