Album: Tough Love: Best Of The Ballads
Once upon a time in the righteous halls of Rock and Roll, there was a band called Aerosmith. While viewed initially as a poor man’s Rolling Stones, they went on to prove their worth releasing albums of fantastic anthemic rock and even a couple songs that rest deeply entrenched in the rock and roll cannon for all time. Like all bands in the halcyon days of Rock, they became victims of their own excess and put out mediocre albums whilst strung out on countless drugs. Then, out of nowhere, they returned to prominence throughout the 80s and 90s, cranking out popular rockers and ballads alike. Since then they have slowed output and creative quality, rarely rising to the surface. Due to lead singer Steven Tyler’s addictions the band lies dormant in the public’s eye. That is, until the appearance of said singer on a highly popular show of caterwauling, highly manicured young’uns…
Do not attempt to adjust your browser settings. We interrupt your intake of all the hottest Indie Rock and Hip Hop to bring something completely different. You did indeed click upon a review for the latest Aerosmith compilation. *cough* *cough* *label cash grab* *cough* Whew, what was that? Anyway, since Steven Tyler’s debut as a judge on season 542 of American Idol, there has been an upswing in interest in Aerosmith and their back catalog of music. Record company execs, never able to pass up another opportunity to try to milk the cash cow for another few drops, have decided to release a collection of songs aimed specifically at the American Idol watching crowd. The people that usually have more interest in the latest Kelly Clarkson release than anything by Aerosmith. So in a sea of compilations that shuffle and reshuffle Aerosmith’s expansive catalog, how does this one fare?
This is actually very easily the worst compilation thus far, if that’s even possible. And that’s not even based solely on the fact that it contains mostly their slower songs! Oh no. In Aerosmith’s resurgence in the 80s and 90s, some of their best songs were ballads in fact. So this doesn’t come from some hard-edged person turning their nose up at slow numbers.
Perhaps first and foremost at fault when one first glances at the track list is the painfully glaring omission of “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.” Love it or hate it, it is probably Aerosmith’s most successful ballad. So why not include it? Seems like it is the song this compilation was made for. If rights were somehow an issue, then I think it would have been well worth paying a little extra for a song that is sure to move units on the strength of the one song alone. It is an utter baffling and lazy move.
Want to make that omission sting even more? Go ahead and look at the track list for the import version. It’s the first song on the disc! What’s worse, that version has four more songs, for a grand total of 16 songs compared to the paltry and laughable 12 tracks on the US version. In an age of downloading it’s hard enough as is to get a person to buy a physical disc. So why add insult to injury and not even fill the disc to its capacity to make it worth it?
Another fault is the song sequencing. There is no sense of flow whether it be chronological or just an ebb and flow of crescendos and decrescendos. It feels disjointed, as if someone put a playlist on random and wrote down the order in which they tumbled out. With such a razor-thin impetus for this compilation, at least a smooth flow of songs could have made some argument for its existence.
When one looks at the list of songs, one also notices that it focuses on a very specific time period in their career-the 80s/90s resurgence. Sure, they throw “Dream On” at the tail end of the disc, but everything else is from that time period. No sign of earlier ballads like “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” or even latter-day balladry like “Pink,” “Hole In My Soul,” or “Jaded.”Why not include songs that might be even fresher in the audience’s mind than the ones found here?
No matter what you’re looking for, there’s a pre-existing Aerosmith compilation out there to suit your needs. If a person wants only the “old stuff” then reach for Greatest Hits. If you want a career-spanning wealth of material get Young Lust or O Yeah! If that’s too much material then Big Ones is the single disc compilation for you, especially since it includes every song on Tough Love, plenty of other great tunes, and isn’t overly loud and brickwalled with modern mastering like this disc is.
What it boils down to is this: this disc is aimed at an incredibly specific target audience: late 20s up through middle-aged women who watch American Idol. They saw Steven Tyler and all the memories of slow-dancing to these ballads at school dances or some steaming backseat snogging comes flooding back. Naturally, she feels the need to relive those moments but doesn’t want all those “loud rock songs” she feels she’s grown out of. Well then here you go ladies, this one’s for you. But even if you want these songs, OurVinyl assures you there are better ways to obtain them than Tough Love.
Written by Jarad Matula