by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Aerosmith - Rockin' The Joint

Versus past bloats, both live and cringingly studio, Rockin' The Joint brings back the magic of Aerosmith in their prime. And it's all in the contours - this record has personality, magnetism. It's an album for the deep, caring fan, the suffering fan. Sticking out like hell on a stick is I Don't Want to Miss A Thing, but dispensing with that, one gets the only two heavy songs from Just Push Play, rendered raucous and intimate in a semi-club setting (this you can feel as well - the mark of a good band with roots), live rarities like Big Ten Inch Record, No More No More and most beautifully, Seasons Of Wither, a long-lost sublime Get Your Wings soft classic (now if Spaced followed right after...). As well, there's "the first song I heard these guys play," sez Steven, a hard old blues chestnut called Rattlesnake Shake, which sounds like prime Foghat. Best of the bunch is Draw The Line though, which rips and tears, as L.A. Guns is wont to say, while Train Kept A Rollin' kicks hard at the close. Production-wise, I dunno, there's still a bit of that blended bloat, that strange polish that makes you think things couldn't have sounded quite this way in the venue. But that's a minor complaint, 'cos the performances are fiery, and like I say, there's a personality that these songs, shuffled into this time and place, conjure. It's a little jarred, a little addled (one gets only really old songs and very recent songs), but at the same time, it's really quite pleasurably geared to the Aerosmith fan who's been in it for the long, sometimes hair-pulling haul.
Rating 8

Rory Gallagher - Big Guns: The Very Best Of
(Strange Music/Sony '05)

Hell, I'm just glad to see a major label would issue something like this, let alone put so much thought into it. In any event, what you get here is a remixed and remastered 24 track retrospective including three songs from his heavy-ish pre-solo band Taste and two previously unreleased live tracks. A short history would go something ike this: Rory was a hard-hitting, hard-drinking (he dies of the drink in '95) Irish blues guitarist who wrote some pretty rocking tunes in the late '70s for Chrysalis, before becoming more of a purist. His career sort of parallels that of Gary Moore, only backed up ten years (and without the dying bit). The packaging of Big Guns is gorgeous, featuring a spot varnish on the cover, a bunch of rare photos, various essay eulogies, and a section of quotes from Gallagher on various technical and guitary issues. The first CD demonstrates the man's perkier, more commercially rockin' songs, while the second CD shows folk and blues predilections, along with Gallagher's Hendrix-styled melodies vocally, his voice a character-filled part of the presentation, his folk a buried treasure. A great introduction and overview, 'cos of the stuff you can read, and the inclusion of Taste, but for the hard rock fan, my recommendation would be to start with Top Priority from '79, and then '76's Photo Finish, chased with 1980's live set Stage Struck. And then the three Taste albums - not all that heavy, but hard-hitting for their day.
Rating 7.5

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