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Aerosmith cranks out a credible comeback album

Aerosmith’s latest album is available Nov. 6. , Photos: Ross Halfin

Ross Halfin

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Music From Another Dimension!
Artist
Aerosmith
Label
Columbia
Genre
Rock
Year
2012

Janie, put away the gun.

Just when you thought the long-jawed bad boys had riff-rolled their last train and caterwauled their last power ballad, Aerosmith pulls together a credible comeback album. Nobody foresaw it; good Lord, few even wanted it. But a few song doctors, a blast-from-the-past producer and one Pro Tools wonder-boy have resurrected a corporate-rock corpse. Sound the bells and mount the tour, hoss – the Sweet Emotion singers ride again.

Anybody who saw the busted-up mug of singer Steven Tyler a year ago – he fell in a shower, he said, and it was at least true that he was plenty washed up – would have thought the raspy 64-year-old had retired to the soft gig of American Idol appraisal.

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The Boston quintet's previous album was an unmemorable disc of blues covers, the unfortunately titled Honkin' on Bobo from 2004. The last effort of new material was, you remember … no, you don't remember. It was 2001's Just Push Play.

Back to 2012, this new album was preceded by a knock-off of an old hit: The lead single Legendary Child is the child of Shut up and Dance, from 1993. And the album itself, available Nov. 6, begins with a silly sci-fi conceit. Back-on-board Aerosmith producer Jack Douglas time-warps in from the 1970s, voicing over a headphone-friendly intro: "You are about to enter a great adventure, and experience the awe and mystery, from your ultimate fantasies to your deepest fears…"

Your deepest fears. Then the snare drums kick in, the band begins a rattle and roar, and Tyler introduces Aerosmith with an Ozzy-toned leer: "Hello, hello, come on, come on, come over." Perry's sleazy guitar is from the seventies, Tyler's chorus is from the eighties and the theme of Luv XXX is a lusty, daisy-haired comment from the sixties: Make love instead of war, and do it three times per day. "It's in our DNA," asserts Tyler, more of a jive-turkey than a social anthropologist.

What follows is a mix of wounded ballads and semi-melodic rockers, with a few blatant Beatlisms and that Tao of Tyler rhyme-happy wisdom thrown in. Its stylistic dimensions stretch the length of Aerosmith's career. The song structures often seem cut and pasted but that is what will have to pass for inspiration in a band motivationally exhausted for quite some time. Lover Alot heaves and chugs hard – a throw-forward from the band's Last Child early days. The radio-friendly Can't Stop Loving You features country darling Carrie Underwood singing that "the world needs more of this."

We've seen Aerosmith cry before.

They do so again on What Could Have Been Love, a generic tear-jerker.

One imagines Christopher Walken and Will Ferrell are pleased with the cowbell quotient of Out Go the Lights. The grand brooding of Closer, about distance, readies itself for concert stages. Closer, a winning slowie written by the much-trophied pop composer Dianne Warren, sounds nothing like Aerosmith.

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Something appropriates a Bond-theme chord progression before settling into a hazy-wiry blues whomp about divisions of wealth. When Joe Perry sings "I made you a dollar, you gave me a quarter," young major-label bands can only shake their heads and wonder where they can get lucky with such a deal.

The too-long 68-minute thing closes with a piano-set weeper, the overwrought Another Last Goodbye with too much screeching crescendo and an audacious swipe of McCartney's She's Leaving Home's backing vocals.

Another last goodbye, but this is no exit from Aerosmith. An expensively-made album sets them up for years of sunset-riding. Saddle up and yippee ki-yay, sure thing.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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