Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Nothing like the last licks out of Hendrix.

I'd like to take moment to sing the praises of a great album track by a band that has lost a bit of its lustre over the last ten years or so.

Aerosmith have always been referred to as something of a poor man's Rolling Stones. Though their career went through an early '90s renaissance, by 1997, four years after the release of the popular but not great Get A Grip, the band was again written off by many critics. Nine Lives, the album that finally surfaced that year, is not a classic by any stretch of the imagination. Certainly it produced some deserving hits (the ridiculous but catchy "Pink" being the most prominent), but the record's underappreciated centrepiece is a tune that should in all rights be considered one of the band's best ever. If one were to require a single song that is representative of Aerosmith's sound and philosophy, that song would be "Ain't That a Bitch."

From the smoky, late night trumpet fills wafting through the introduction, to the pulsating backbeat provided by Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer, on almost every level this is just a slick, slick song. Guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford similarly showcase their talents, with a couple of short but apposite solos and some great rock licks throughout. Of course, this is Steven Tyler's circus, and his alley cat falsetto and playful wit as a lyricist are on full display, as he spits out lines with more irony than Alanis Morrisette ever dreamed. There's nothing like the last licks out of Hendrix, indeed. If all that isn't enough, listen through to the song's final minute, where Tyler leads the band through a stunningly bombastic sing-along coda, accompanied by the perfectly realized wailings of an orchestral string section. This song is sex on a CD.

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