Aerosmith scored more hits and had more knock-down, drag-out fights per album cycle than most bands experience in their whole careers.
Their tenure is the stuff of rock ‘n’ roll legend, spanning decades of euphoric highs, devastating lows, musical reinventions, lineup changes and, of course, a whole lot of brilliant songs.
Led by singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry — known in their drug-addled heyday as the Toxic Twins — Aerosmith ruled the hard rock roost in the mid-’70s with sleazy, whip-smart hits like “Walk This Way,” “Sweet Emotion” and “Back in the Saddle.”
They crashed and burned at the end of the decade but emerged sober and refocused in the late ’80s with MTV-ready pop-rock anthems (“Dude [Looks Like a Lady],” “Love in an Elevator”) and gargantuan power ballads (“Angel,” “What it Takes,” “Cryin'”). They’ve never not been famous since then.
With 15 studio albums and dozens of Top 40 hits to their name, it’s inevitable that some lesser-known Aerosmith songs would fall by the wayside. Much like your childhood toys in the attic, some of the band’s best tunes have been gathering proverbial dust for decades, begging to be rediscovered. To help you on your crate-digging journey, we’ve taken a deep dive into their catalog to bring you the most overlooked song from each Aerosmith album.
From: Aerosmith (1973)
Aerosmith opened their eponymous debut album — and, effectively their career — in grand fashion with this theatrical micro-anthem. Tyler played the fast-talking ringmaster from the start, greeting his audience with the song’s resolute opening lyrics: “Good evening people, welcome to the show / Got something here I want you all to know” and exhorting his bandmates to “make it, don’t break it.” Aerosmith would go on to do their fair share of both throughout their illustrious, tumultuous career.
From: Get Your Wings (1974)
The final track on Aerosmith’s sophomore LP finds the band perfecting their raunchy bar-band boogie, doling out Skynyrd-worthy riffs as Tyler yowls like a cat in heat over libidinous saxophone blasts. The singer flirts with topical issues, admitting he’s got to watch his motormouth lest he “catch hell from the women liberation.” With gutter-minded spoonerisms like “Now I ain’t what you’d call a city slicker / Or claim to fame to be a slitty licker,” it’s easy to see why he would.
“No More No More”
From: Toys in the Attic (1975)
Every song on Aerosmith’s eight-times platinum Toys in the Attic is a stone-cold classic, but if there’s one cut from the band’s breakthrough third LP that deserves even more love, it’s “No More No More.” Tyler straddles the line between autobiography and self-mythology, detailing the agonies and ecstasies of life on the road: bloodstained piano keys, tattered clothes, sold-out shows and an endless stream of nameless groupies and faceless hotel rooms. Perry completes the song with an epic, freewheeling guitar solo, consummating Aerosmith’s evolution into the rock gods they had always dreamed of becoming.
From: Rocks (1976)
Guitarist Brad Whitford might have been doomed from the start to live in Joe Perry’s shadow onstage, but the mild-mannered axman is responsible for some of Aerosmith’s best — and heaviest — songs. Whitford delivered his magnum opus with “Nobody’s Fault,” a Sabbath-ian stomper about the band’s fear of earthquakes and flying. Whitford rips molten solos over Joey Kramer‘s relentless drum groove and monstrous fills, while Tyler nearly shreds his larynx spitting wide-eyed prophecies. This metal masterwork influenced everybody from Kurt Cobain to Slash to Testament, who covered it on 1988’s The New Order.
“Sight for Sore Eyes”
From: Draw the Line (1977)
Aerosmith were careening off the rails by the time they released Draw the Line, with rampant drug addiction and intra-band strife threatening to tear them apart. But before they fully succumbed to their vices, Aerosmith harnessed them to churn out a few more nuggets of sleazy, unhinged hard rock, as best heard on “Sight for Sore Eyes.” Perry and Whitford’s slinky riffs and solos dance around each other, while Tyler shouts himself hoarse with some of his bluntest come-ons. It’s the sound of a band whose fuse was seconds away from blowing.
“Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy)”
From: Night in the Ruts (1979)
As the first Aerosmith album recorded partially without Perry — and their first commercial flop since they became one of the biggest rock bands in the world — Night in the Ruts often gets a bad rap. Suspend your prejudices, though, and you’ll hear an album full of lean, mean hard rockers that are tighter and catchier than almost anything on its predecessor. Chief among them is “Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy),” a snarling tour de force that derives its title from the nickname for a used condom. Anchored by a blistering guitar riff and machine-gun drum fills, “Bone to Bone” isn’t just a “good for its time” Aerosmith song: It’s one of their best and heaviest tracks, period.
From: Rock in a Hard Place (1982)
By all accounts, Rock in a Hard Place was an unmitigated disaster for Aerosmith: Tyler’s heroin addiction left him on the brink of destruction, and with Perry and Whitford both out of the fold, all guitar duties fell to young gun Jimmy Crespo. Yet even at the height of their dysfunction, the band still churned out a few gems, including the single weirdest song in their discography: the psychedelic folk odyssey “Joanie’s Butterfly.” Tyler delivers a head-spinning poem about a dancing, winged pony that may or may not be a euphemism for his penis, while the guitars alternate between jangly arpeggios and stampeding power chords. It’s a moment of bizarre, epic grandeur that Aerosmith has never replicated — probably for the best.
“My Fist Your Face”
From: Done With Mirrors (1985)
Aerosmith were still regaining their footing on Done With Mirrors, the first album fully recorded with Perry and Whitford since 1977’s Draw the Line. Among its catchy, workmanlike songs, “Let the Music Do the Talking” and “My Fist Your Face” came closest to recapturing the band’s former glory. On the latter, Tyler spits his free-associative lyrics with the bluster of a high school bully, while the guitar duo lays down the muscular riffs and licks that had become second nature to them. Aerosmith’s proper comeback was still a year away, but they started rocking with newfound clarity on Done With Mirrors.
From: Permanent Vacation (1987)
Song doctors Desmond Child and Jim Vallance helped push Aerosmith to stratospheric heights on Permanent Vacation, bolstered by arena-ready hits like “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” “Angel” and “Rag Doll.” But underneath the megawatt anthems, Permanent Vacation contains some of the band’s most interesting deep cuts. The Tyler-penned “St. John” is classic ’70s Aerosmith, with its evocative storytelling, ominous chord progression and red-hot guitar solos. Topped with Bruce Fairbairn’s explosive production, “St. John” updates Aerosmith’s vintage grit for the hi-fi era.
From: Pump (1989)
From its opening guitar bend to final vocal squeal, “F.I.N.E.” is a hook-laden thrill ride that doesn’t let up for a second. Grimy guitar power chords and powerhouse drums drive the verses, while Tyler delivers some of his most deliciously catchy melodies and lewd lyrics, bolstered by massive backing harmonies in the choruses. Every song on Pump was a hard-rocking Top 40 smash in the making, but it’s especially tragic that “F.I.N.E.” never became a single or setlist staple.
“Shut Up and Dance”
From: Get a Grip (1993)
Get a Grip lived in near-permanent rotation on radio and MTV thanks to soaring power ballads like “Livin’ on the Edge,” “Cryin'” and “Crazy,” but its album cuts are bursting with monolithic guitar riffs and sleazy, sky-high hooks. “Shut Up and Dance” is the best of the bunch, combining nimble guitar leads, walloping drum grooves and some of Tyler’s most salacious double entendres (“Here comes Jill and she needs romance / But you can’t do Jack so shut up and dance!“). This shamelessly fun, raunchy rocker proved that even though Aerosmith were growing older, they had no interest in growing up. (Bonus points for the Wayne’s World 2 feature.)
“Ain’t That a Bitch”
From: Nine Lives (1997)
Aerosmith had reinvented themselves as unlikely master balladeers with their trilogy of massive comeback albums — Permanent Vacation, Pump and Get a Grip — and they continued honing their craft on 1997’s Nine Lives. The beleaguered album failed to match the commercial heights of its predecessors, but its performances are dynamite, most of all the volcanic power ballad “Ain’t That a Bitch.” The smoky, forlorn verses give way to towering choruses full of ear-piercing screams that would make singers half Tyler’s age blush. The false ending revs up into a massive outro jam breathtaking scat singing from Tyler. It’s unlike anything else Aerosmith ever recorded, and it puts their more commercial ballads to shame.
From: Just Push Play (2001)
Just Push Play is the sound of a band going through an identity crisis and trying desperately to cling to relevance. Aerosmith partially succeeded with the soaring, string-laden ballad “Jaded,” their last Top 10 hit to date, but they floundered with clunky rap-metal cuts like “Outta Your Head” and the title track. The closest they came to their hard-rocking glory days was album opener “Beyond Beautiful,” a semi-psychedelic stomper full of catchy turns of phrase, percussive guitar riffs and one of Perry’s most agile solos. It’s a straightforward rocker that unfortunately proved a red herring for the rest of this incoherent, overproduced album.
“Eyesight to the Blind”
From: Honkin’ on Bobo (2004)
Aerosmith were never a band known for their reverence, so on their 2004 blues covers album, they naturally eschew note-perfect renditions of the original standards in favor of high-octane horndog blooze. The group gives Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “Eyesight to the Blind” an electrified facelift, replete with lusty guitar solos, barroom piano flourishes and Tyler’s sandpapery, falsetto shriek. The song, along with the rest of Honkin’ on Bobo, fits Aerosmith like a glove, and they manage to play their asses off while sounding like they’re not breaking a sweat.
“Out Go the Lights”
From: Music From Another Dimension (2012)
Aerosmith’s first album of original material in 11 years wasn’t quite the triumphant return to form they’d hoped for. Music From Another Dimension is a jumbled, overlong album that tries to be everything for everyone, mixing blockbuster power ballads, Top 40 pop-rock anthems and vintage blues jams. The third category is woefully underrepresented, but the band kicks it old-school on “Out Go the Lights,” a slinky blues-rock romp anchored by a thunderous groove and funky guitar riff dating back to the Pump sessions. Tyler howls and honks on the blues harp and Perry rips a fiery, extended outro solo as the backup singers dole out sultry “ooh, ah-oohs” behind him. It’s enough to make you forgive the groan-worthy double entendres (“But a sign on the wall that hung on the tack / Said liquor in the front and poker in the back“) and bask in the sound of a band doing what they do best.