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Toys in the Attic

Columbia 33479
Released: April 1975
Chart Peak: #11
Weeks Charted: 128
Certified 5x Platinum: 12/21/88

Joe PerrySteven TylerAerosmith, a five-piece Boston hard-rock band with almost unlimited potential, can't seem to hurdle the last boulder separating it from complete success. Like Toys in the Attic, their two previous LPs have had several stellar moments which were weakened by othe instances of directionless meandering and downright weak material. That these albums stood the test of time is testimony to the band's raw abilities and some outstanding production on the part of Jack Douglas -- Toys in the Attic, I'm afraid, can't claim the latter.

What's really important to bands of this sort is initial impact -- the production must explode, enveloping the listener with a rampaging barrage of sound. The ideal mix is hot and spacious, with each instument well defined and immediately intimate. A mix, in fact, not all unlike that of the band's previous LP, Get Your Wings. On Toys Aerosmith is given a more compact, jumbled mix that gives more of a "group" feel but robs them of that explosive ambience. Hence it's much harder to get involved with that music at first exposure to it.

Aerosmith - Toys In The Attic
Original album advertising art.
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The material here follows the familiar patterns -- some good moments, some nondescript ones. With their aggressive, ambisexual stance, reliance on bristling open chording and admitted mid-Sixties English rock roots, Aerosmith can be very good when they're on, and material like "Walk This Way," "Sweet Emotion" and the title cut adequately proves this once you're past the generally oppressive production. "Big Ten-Inch Record," "Uncle Salty" and "You See Me Crying," though, are poor choices, changes of pace which deny the band the use of their strongest asset -- hardnosed, aggressive raunch.

If Aerosmith can avoid the sloppiness that's plagued their recent live performances, if they return to the production that made parts of Get Your Wings so memorable, and most importantly, if they avoid tepid, trite material, then their potential is extremely high.

- Gordon Fletcher, Rolling Stone, 7/31/75.

Bonus Reviews!

These boys are learning a trade in record time -- even the sludgy numbers get crazy. Too bad the two real whompers are attached to rockstar lyrics, albeit clever ones, because Steve Tyler has a gift for the dirty line as well as the dirty look -- anybody who can hook a song called "Adam's Apple" around the phrase "love at first bite" deserves to rehabilitate a blue blues like "Big Ten Inch Record." B+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Based on the songwriting partnership between Jagger-lookalike vocalist Steve Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry, Aerosmith's music has once been described as "heavy-duty boogie." But Aerosmith's brand of competent high-voltage power rock makes an unexpectedly unexceptional CD.

A heavy sluggish sound, in particular a fat and dominant kick drum character, does little to promote the attractions of the band on this Compact Disc, in particular the track "Round and Round" which has a very veiled and compacted sound that even high level replay does little to leaven. The overall dull balance and gently ill-focused sound is not at all attractive.

- David Prakel, Rock 'n' Roll on Compact Disc, 1987.

A solid slice of classic '70s raunch and roll, Aerosmith defined grunge-rock with their best and now-classic "Sweet Emotion" and "Walk this Way." * * * * *

- Donna DiChario, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Toys in the Attic is almost as nasty as 1976's Rocks, thanks to unapologetically raunchy rave-ups such as "Walk This Way," "Sweet Emotion" and "Big Ten Inch Record." * * * * 1/2

- Thor Christensen, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

The toxic twins deliver pure, unadulterated, raunchy rock on this ground- and speaker-breaking platinum platter, released back when their artistry matched their blood-alcohol levels. Steven Tyler and the guys shine like never before, setting the bar with quintessential signatures like "Sweet Emotion" and "Walk This Way." The ultimate '70s party album, it still holds up well according to diehards who deem it their favorite toy. * * * *

- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.

This is where Aerosmith perfected their raunchy blues-rock sound, with guitarist Joe Perry laying down some of the Seventies' most indelible riffs on "Walk This Way" and "Sweet Emotion," and Steven Tyler stepping up with an album full of unforgettable songs about his favorite topic: sex.

Toys in the Attic was chosen as the 228th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.

- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.

Seen by many as America's answer to the Rolling Stones, not least due to the image pushed to the fore by singer Steve Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry and the band's obvious enjoyment as they revelled in the fast-lane of rock and roll, Aerosmith's third album confirmed their status as the top live and recorded rock act of the day, at least in their homeland.

Recorded at the Record Plant in New York, and produced by Jack Douglas, Toys In The Attic was an immediate success. Tracks such as the epic "Sweet Emotion," the Zeppelin-esque "Round And Round," the blues-oriented "Adam's Apple" and the big-band boogie number, "Big Ten Inch," combined the band's musical rock 'n' blues influence with an overtly upfront approach to the sexual aspect of the material. In the US "Toys In The Attic" stormed the Hot 100, and peaking at Number 11, but in the UK, in the grip of the early days of the punk revolution, the record fell on stony ground.

The album is perhaps best known for featuring the first real crossover song in rock in the form of "Walk This Way," which was remodelled to such great effect by rap act Run DMC 11 years later when it did much to rekindle interest in the band. It is one of the few songs in history that has charted twice in two separate decades.

As of 2004, Toys In The Attic was the #16 best-selling album of the 70s.

- Hamish Champ, The 100 Best-Selling Albums of the 70s, 2004.

Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath may have blazed the trail for hard rock, but with their third album, Aerosmith sprang forth as the progenitors of "cock rock" -- a subgenre that reveled in sex, drugs, and double-entendre to a level that made Led Zep's "The Lemon Song" sound like something from the church hymnal. It also won the band an international audience.

After several years pounding the circuit as a support act, the Boston-based unit landed a contract with Columbia after playing Max's Kansas City with punk godfathers The New York Dolls. However, their first two albums failed to make an impression as the band struggled to define itself amid unflattering comparisons to The Rolling Stones. With Jack Dougles in charge of console knob-twiddling, they entered the studio for what was now surely their make-or-break effort.

From the outset, it is clear that the band knew what was at stake. With a sizzling hi-hat crash, crunching riff, and growling chant, the title track pounces on the listener with a mixture of imagination and sheer insanity. The more laidback "Uncle Salty" is no less brazen, detailing a sleazy tale of whores, pimps, and dealers. But it is "Walk This Way" and "Sweet Emotion," with their funk-flavored grooves, insistent guitar work, and thinly veiled refrences to any number of illicit activities, that established the band's modus operandi and cemented their place in rock history. Toys... reached No. 11 in the United States, and even brought about the re-release of "Dream On," a single from their first album that had floundered just two years earlier. The single became their second Top Ten hit.

- Tim Sheridan, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.

Aerosmith didn't invent blues-rock, wasn't the first band to dish bawdy lyrics, and really brought nothing innovative to the game -- unless you count the scarves vocalist Steven Tyler tied around his microphone stand. Yet with its third album, Toys in the Attic, the Boston quintet took the basic three-chord guitar scheme, added some old-fashioned showbiz razzle-dazzle, and gave "rawk" a new attitude.

Toys is thirty-seven-minutes-of-teenage-boy-air-guitar-blues -- all double-time peel-outs and leering talk of fast girls, with a hint of rebellion on the side. Its pulverizing backbeats and tightly wound riff boogie-ooze hominess ("Walk This Way," still the prototype rock strut). Its songs about drugs ("Uncle Salty" and "Sweet Emotion," the cleverest deployment of bass marimba in rock history) are disciplined verse-chorus odes disguised as spacey meandering.

An instant hit that sold millions and established the band as arena headliners, Toys solidified the trick that the "Toxic Twins" songwriting team, vocalist Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry, would turn for decades; slightly sleazy bad-boy stuff made irresistible by fireworks-on-cue hookcraft.

- Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, 2008.

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