Just Push Play, Aerosmith Columbia Records
If you”ve flipped on MTV, tuned into Top 40 radio or wandered a shopping mall at any time during the past few weeks, chances are you”ve heard “Jaded,” the first single from Aerosmith”s 13th studio album. And if at first it sounded less like a new chart-buster and more like an Aerosmith oldie some soundtrack contribution or an old album track heretofore stuck on the fringes of classic rock radio that”s because “Jaded” is in many ways the consummate Aerosmith single: A pitch to a young flame wrought with a dash of heartache, a string section and a chorus so big it makes Creed”s hits sound like cocktail jazz.
Like “Jaded,” Just Push Play is classic Aerosmith fare, which means it”s full of the sex-crazed histrionics and red-blooded stomp they”ve turned out (with varying success) for 28 years. Produced by front man Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry with help from songwriting collaborators Mark Hudson and Marti Frederiksen, it does include its fair share of fashionably a la mode touches: Chic retro riffs and vocoderized singing, plus a horn section, electro-percussion and new age-y synths. But those accoutrements sound mostly like concessions to the MTV set, meant only to give the impression that these lifelong mega-sellers are breaking new ground.
In truth, Aerosmith has no use for progress. They”ve really stuck around for so long because Americans never tire of robust, tuneful rock “n roll, and Just Push Play has that in spades. With “Jaded” serving as the requisite Top 10 hit, Aerosmith ploughs through equally-solid throwbacks like “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” with its cascading riffs and a sturdy funk groove, and “Under My Skin,” a trippy number in which Tyler confesses he”s become smitten with the wrong girl while Perry and Brad Whitford trade guitar licks.
When Aerosmith misfires on Just Push Play as they do on the dopey “Avant Garden” or “Fly Away From Here,” a ballad nearly as egregiously sappy as “Don”t Want to Miss a Thing,” their huge hit from a few years back you cringe, but only for a moment, it”s easy to forgive the AOR schmaltz. In fact, we pretty much learned to take Aerosmith”s good stuff with their bad stuff around the time “power-ballad” entered the rock “n roll vocabulary.
With three members now in their fifties, Aerosmith are twice as old as most of their hit-making contemporaries. But does that mean they”re too old to rock? Dream on.