A Music Theory

Any popular music act with even a modicum of longevity eventually goes through a period of substantial irrelevancy. For Aerosmith, one of my favorite bands, this period began shortly after the release of 1977’s Draw the Line and continued through three atrocious studio albums (and a small, vocal minority, myself among them, might argue that Draw the Line wasn’t exactly a masterpiece either) until the mid 1980s when they catapulted back onto the scene with Permanent Vacation, an album that produced multiple singles, got them significant MTV-airplay, and helped them launch a world tour.

But, it isn’t the comeback album that intrigues me as much as the album the band follows it up with.

Permanent Vacation was a fine bit of 80s fluff that sounded a little bit like Aerosmith. The follow-up album, Pump was a masterpiece, still the best album the band has produced in their post-70s incarnation. It didn’t sound quite like the Aerosmith of old, but you could tell that was the album they really wanted to do. Vacation was just a vehicle to get them there.

I feel the same way about U2’s two most recent albums. All That You Can’t Leave Behind was a welcome return to a more substantial U2. They were done with making records like whatever Pop was. It had some hits, including the infectious “Beautiful Day” and it put them back on the map for the kids.

I downloaded their new album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, this morning off of iTunes to listen to on the drive into work. I’ve only given it a listen and a half, but I kind of feel the same way about it that I feel about Pump. I feel like maybe this is the album they were getting around to making, that the previous record was just a way of getting there.

Of course, you’ve heard “Vertigo”, that is unless you’ve been living under a rock. But I don’t think you can hold it against them that they’re hitching a ride on Apple’s coattails to get the promotion going, especially when they’ve put together an album so solid. The rest of the disc is certainly worth a listen and probably worth ten bucks of your hard-earned cash.

This entry was a lot more eloquent in my head as I was driving home from work. Oh well. Until they invent a transcription device that can read minds, this is all you get.