By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Brian Palmer
Mr. Wibly could talk pop nonstop for hours at a stretch. Kyle seemed puzzled by the barrage of names that meant nothing to him. Woody Woodpecker, Cab Calloway, Jagger, Minnie the Moocher, Dragnet; it was more data than he could handle without a dedicated information chip. Now his ol' gramps was beginning to drool onto his sleeve. "Slow down, Gramps!" "Sorry, Kyle. Where was I? Oh, yeah--the Stones. Everybody used to call them The World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band. Then they became The World's Oldest Living Rock 'n' Roll Band. Then they toured as The World's Favorite Geezers for a while. They really overstayed their welcome, but at least they had the good sense to retire before they got really, really, really old and pathetic. But this Aerosmith is like the thing that wouldn't die."
"Rocks is a pretty good record, Gramps. I even like the pops and clicks." "Yeah. Too bad their next album was pretty lackluster--Draw the Line. Aerosmith let their guitarist Joe Perry sing a song--a definite sign of trouble in the ranks. Plus there's a song here about not being able to get it up. That just depressed the tar outta me. When Aerosmith started doin' a lot of drugs, it took the sex right outta the music. Made this piece-of-turd album called A Night in the Ruts. And Aerosmith compounded the damage by appearin' in a Sgt. Pepper movie with the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton. Pretty much wiped out the careers of everybody in it 'cept for George Burns."
"We heard about that in music class, Gramps. I think they called it 'The Great Pop Purge of 1978.'"
"Is that right? Well, I'll be! People were apologizing for that movie into the next century, so I guess it's no surprise. Poor Aerosmith. Soon the guitarists started leavin', and Tyler could barely get through a show without screwin' up."
"What happened next?"
"Well, remember, this was the tail end of the 1970s, Kyle. Nowadays, when people leave a successful group, they're humanely destroyed so's not to inflict their worthless song ideas onto the public. But back then, we had whatcha call 'solo albums.' Everybody had one. Even drummers! But then some fools got the idea of staying in their respective groups while continuin' to make solo albums. Of course, that's monopolizing the airwaves, which is against the law since the FCC began enforcin' the Phil Collins Act of 1996."
"What were Aerosmith's solo albums like?"
"Who knows? Even I didn't buy them, and I bought all four Kiss solo albums. Someone, probably the band's accountants, intervened. Got these boys back together and cleaned up their act. Then they made this record."
"I can't read the name of it, Gramps."
"Nobody can. It was called Done With Mirrors, son. Don'tcha see, all the writing on the cover's backward except for the bar code! Actually, if the record company had reversed that, they'd have made a fortune on Soundscan sales. Most of Aerosmith's fans had enough trouble reading forward, let alone backward, so it kinda backfired on them."
After sampling a few cuts, Mr. Wibly shoves the record back into its dust sleeve. "Kinda crummy, innit? Now I remember why I never bothered to hold the record up to a mirror to see what the titles were. It took two black guys, Run-DMC, to make it okay to like Aerosmith again. Although Joe Perry looked kinda embarrassed being in a rap video. And Run-DMC looked like they were embarrassed by Steve Tyler's camera-hogging techniques and his taste in clothes. Even then people were remarking how Tyler hadn't changed jumpsuits in years. Little did they know."
"Do you have any videos of Aerosmith, Gramps?"
"Somewhere--yeah, in this box. Here it is, The Making of Pump. Hell, I'm feelin' lucky today. If you help me connect the wires, Kyle, I'll get this digital AC converter going and we can watch the whole thing."
After Gramps and Kyle labor over the Geffen/Sony entertainment system for a half-hour, the creaking VCR begins spitting out images of Aerosmith, shortly after its second coming. Just then, drummer Joey Kramer, who's almost unwatchable because of a nervous tic in the left eye, discusses the band's drugging days.
"Drinking and drugging, I can't say that I regret it because it was a big part of the path that enabled us to get where we are now."
"Ya see, Kyle, when people gave up drugs in those days, they felt compelled to talk about it all the time. So much so that all these bands that came out later--Guns N' Roses, Nirvana, Shonen Knife--got hooked on cocaine and heroin simply because folks like Tyler and Perry made people want to take up junk and ruin their lives, just so they can give it up later and tell other young jerks not to do what you just did. They all did it; Clapton, Elton John, Kenny G, Aerosmith were no different."
On the sceen is an extreme closeup of Steven Tyler's eyelid.
"From the time you start taking drugs to when you stop, those are all lost years. You go back to where you were before you started. So now, in my case, I'm 19 years old, hah ha hah ha."