Our family dispute began when I innocently stated that I thought a strong case could be made that Aerosmith is the greatest American rock ‘n’ roll band, ever. Although controversy ensued, and we discussed a number of other candidates for that distinction, I still think my initial observation is eminently defensible.
Wikipedia reports that Aerosmith has been around for almost 40 years, and apparently has sold more records than any other American rock group. These kinds of statistics don’t mean much to me. My acid test is whether the music sounds good in a car, and produces a sound that breaks through the stale offerings that you hear on the radio. Aerosmith passes those tests with flying colors. I defy anyone to listen to the first few power notes of Walk This Way or Same Old Song and Dance and resist the impulse to crank up the volume to eardrum-bruising levels. When I was in high school I proudly owned Aerosmith, and Get Your Wings, and Toys In the Attic. All were wonderful, but Toys In The Attic was special; I played it until it was rutted and scratched — and even through the pops and hisses the music still sounded fantastic. Great bluesy guitar riffs, a strong beat, and terrific, raspy vocals. The music still stands up, more than 30 years later. I thought the Walk This Way remake with Run D.M.C. was great, and while I haven’t liked their later recordings as much as their early work, I think their early stuff is so good that Aerosmith demands consideration on any “best American bands” list.
I’ve got 10 Aerosmith songs on the Ipod — 11 if you count the Run D.M.C. cover of Walk This Way. They are Adam’s Apple, The Train Kept A Rollin’, Back in the Saddle, Dream On, Same Old Song and Dance, Walk This Way, Big Ten Inch Record, Sweet Emotion, Last Child, and Back in the Saddle (Live). If you matched those 10 songs against 10 songs from any other American group, you’d blow most of the competition out of the water and you’d be competitive with anyone.
Edited to add: Time to Vote for your choice for Best American Band!