Thursday, June 3, 2010

Albums2010 #2: Big Ones

OK, so I broke my own rule: I honestly didn't realize that this Aerosmith album was in fact a compilation of some of their hits. I really honestly thought that Big Ones was just one of those amazingly albums where ever single song just rocks your face clean off. But alas, not true. So, I broke my own rule: this will be the second greatest hits compilation I'd consider to be worthy of my list of 100 albums. Why? Well, like I said- every song rocks your face clean off and more to the point, Big Ones in and of itself provides a nice snapshot to my soundtrack of junior high and high school memories that can't be matched by any other album.

Yes, once upon a time, Aerosmith was all over the radio. I'm sure natives of Eastern Iowa remember huddling in their rooms, listening to Q103 (Scott and Gail in the morning and Michelle Steele with the Top 8 at 8, anyone?) and hearing songs like 'Amazin' and 'Cryin' come over the airwaves at you. (Bonus Aside: one of the great traumas of my youth was the awful morning when they started playing All-4-One's 'I Swear', I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and when I came back Q103 had turned into a country station. Oh, the horror... the horror!) From Mrs. Doubtfire and 'Dude Looks Like A Lady' to dominating chunks of Top 40 radio in the early to mid-90s, it seemed like whenever I turned on the radio, I was bound to hear an Aerosmith song at some point. And they rocked pretty hard.

When did the love die, you ask? Well it died in late 1998, when the soundtrack for the movie 'Armageddon' was released and their single 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing' became one of the most overplayed songs in the history of Top40 radio. (Running behind 3 Doors Down's 'Kryptonite' but only by a nose hair.) Jesus, I grew to hate that song with a passion. I'm not entirely sure why, but going out on a limb, I'd say that it had a lot to do with being played as the go-to slow dance song at all the high school dances, which everyone else could get dates too, but I couldn't. Plus, it just got to be a really, really annoying song.

That said, listening to Big Ones was a pleasure and a little bit of a trip. A massive chunk of the album features in my memories of listening to the radio back in the day, but there are a few tracks that stick out that didn't get as much airplay- at least not that I remember. 'Rag Doll', 'The Other Side' and 'Eat The Rich.' 'Rag Doll' is just a damn good song- I'm not particularly sure why I like it all that much, but as with a lot of Aerosmith songs, it rocks hard and it's not particularly hard on the ears. Same with the second track, 'The Other Side.' However, it's the mischievous third track, Aerosmith's apparently delicious solution to the great American class divide that sticks out in my mind- though eating the rich is never something that I would have seriously thought of considering- but the tongue is firmly in cheek with this track and it makes me smile.

Overall: A trip back to my junior high and high school days, Aerosmith proves with Big Ones that they know how to rock hard and make damn good songs- all before they got really, really annoying with 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing.'

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