Infighting nearly led to the group’s demise after frontman Steven Tyler was rumored to have fallen off the wagon (and fallen off the stage in a 2009 concert). Tyler eventually landed on American Idol as a judge, and for a time, the band was supposedly auditioning other singers.
Somehow, some way, they put aside their differences and finally began work on the follow-up to 2001′s Just Push Play (they did release an excellent album of blues covers in 2004 called Honkin on Bobo). I got excited when I found out Jack Douglas was co-producing the album, as he was behind the boards for their greatest 70s triumphs Toys in the Attic and Rocks.
The band promised a return to their to their roots, and in some spots on the album, they deliver on that promise.
However, Music from Another Dimension tells the tale of two bands – one led by guitarist Joe Perry and the other led by Tyler.
Perry still wants to rock, and the band does just that on album highlights like “Love XXX,” “Oh Yeah,” “Out Goes the Lights,” “Street Jesus” and “Freedom Fighter (which Perry takes lead vocals on.”
Tyler, like he has been doingsince 1993′s Get a Grip, shows an over-tendency to reach for the heartstrings. Quite simply, there are way too many ballads on the 15-track standard version of the album. (The 19-track deluxe version has yet another ballad). And many of these ballads are schmaltzy and interchangeable. “Can’t Stop Loving You” is a ballad with country princess Carrie Underwood, and while it’s ok for that genre, it doesn’t fit as an Aerosmith song and is an obvious attempt at crossover success. “We All Fall Down” and “What Could Have Been Love” are two more faceless ballads, with the first written by Diane Warren (who is responsible for Aerosmith’s worst-ever song I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, also inexplicably the band’s only No. 1 hit).
Those three songs come in the middle of the album, and drag the momentum down significantly. The album gets off to a strong six-song start with mostly rockers (the ballad “Tell Me” is one of the better ballads, probably because it is written by bassist Tom Hamilton and had no outside help from professional hitmakers, lowering its cheese quotient exponentially). But once you get to track 7 (What Could Have Been Love), the album slides into a streak of alternating gratingly weepy ballads with quality rockers. If anything, these ballads should have been spaced out better, but 2-3 songs could have been eliminated and this would have been a much stronger set. The album’s flow is a big problem throughout, as the two songs sung by Perry (Freedom Fighter and Something) are lumped closely together at the end, between yet two more ballads (Closer and the tearjerker Another Last Goodbye, which is much better than the middle trio of faceless schmaltz).
The four songs on the deluxe edition vary in quality. “Shakey Ground” is an old R&B cover, and Aerosmith shows its funky side, which is very fun and interesting. “Over the Mountain” is written and sung by Hamilton, and quite frankly, would have been better if Tyler handled the vocals. “Oasis in the Night” is a pleasing mid-tempo ballad written and sung by Perry, while “Sunny Side of Love” is a slight but solid Tyler ballad (certainly better than a few that made the actual album).
The album shows Aerosmith still has plenty of musical talent, but they could use better editing skills. This could have been a true return to form if cut to 10-12 songs. Instead, it’s an uneven hodgepodge of a record that doesn’t quite flow. But, I’ll take this over no Aerosmith at all.
Sod rating: ***