Songs like “Dream On,” “Sweet Emotion,” and “Walk This Way” set the stage for hard rock band Aerosmith to enjoy, thus far, a nearly five decades-long career. The bad boys from Boston have amassed album sales of over 150 million, making them the best-selling American rock band ever. They have won a slew of awards, ranging from Grammys to American Music Awards to MTV Video Music Awards, and they were just recently (2001) inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
What makes Aerosmith so legendary is that they always bounce back from the bad times. Drug addiction, falling outs, even bassist Tom Hamilton’s throat cancer couldn’t stop these boys for long. Sure, they’ve been down (“Don’tcha know that I’m down?/[I’m really down]”), but never out.
Here are some of our favorite, lesser-known-to-casual-fans Aerosmith tunes.
Just Push Play (from Just Push Play)
Yeah, remember this album? We’d rather not, because aside from hit single “Jaded,” the best song from this release was arguably its title track, which peaked at number 38 on the Top 40 mainstream chart, despite being a single. Incidentally, even guitarist Joe Perry publicly expressed his dislike of the album, though drummer Joey Kramer loved the playing but not the cover. We particularly enjoy how the word “f*ck” is bleeped throughout the song, only to be left uncensored by the end.
St. John (from Permanent Vacation)
This song is so under the radar that there’s barely any information about it on the internet, aside from the typical YouTube videos or sheet music, which is why fans have been left to their own devices over the years in debating its symbolism. Theories about what its seemingly religious lyrics may “really mean” range from masturbation to television evangelists to a man named John, who is said to have helped the band through their worst days of drug addiction.
Back Back Train (from Honkin on Bobo)
Perry provides the lead vocals here on this cover of the Fred McDowell original, along with Tracy Bonham (“Mother Mother”) joining him on backing vocals. (Is it just us, or does she look exactly like Lea Michele?) Many agree that this is some of Perry’s strongest vocal work yet, and Bonham is an exceptionally pleasant highlight, with a voice like the heel of someone’s cowboy boot, stomping out a lit cigarette. (Yes, that’s a good thing.)
Chiquita (from Night in the Ruts)
Perry quit the band halfway through the recording of Night in the Ruts, but not before he completed work on “Chiquita” (though, you’d never know it from the music video). Most notable on this track are the saxophones played by Louis del Gatto and Lou Marini, as well as Tyler’s signature screech.
Lightning Strikes (from Rock in a Hard Place)
“Lightning Strikes” is the first single to chart without Joe Perry and guitarist Brad Whitford, who were both temporarily replaced by Jimmy Crespo (1979) and Rick Dufay (1981) when they quit the band. It’s also the only time you’ll ever see Tyler dressed up like a greaser as a member of a street gang. Surely, if you have been a fan of Aerosmith’s since the beginning, then you are probably familiar with this track, but it might be more of a kick in the pants to today’s generation.