Number 28 – How do you Keep the Blues away?

Mike 2204 (4)

Did you hear the starter’s gun?

Down 20 spots from last year, but still worthy of a Top 30 spot!

If “Sweet Emotion” was a peek into the toxicity of the band, and the book,  “Walk This Way’ was an 500 page autobiography of the first 25 years, then  this song might just might be a 4 minute 22 second biography of how it all started, along with some of the characters involved.

What’s in a name? Night in the Ruts / Right in the Nuts, notable bit of trivia here; this was the original intended name for their 2nd album “Get Your Wings”. With the eminent failure of both the (7th) album, and then the band, maybe it’s best that they decided on the latter for the name of the 2nd album. I mean, with the already lackluster performance and support from their label, of their eponymous debut album, maybe it was best that they chose a different name for the second, and waited until the 6th studio record for this. We might not have ever had a “Toys”, or “Rocks”, or even “Draw the Line”, that is, if you believe in that kind of thing.. You know… superstition. Or maybe it just wasn’t as good as it could have been because of the previous 6 years. Personally I think “Ruts” got a bad rap, but then again, that’s just me.

Yeah sure, there are some less than desirable takes on it, but is there an album out there that doesn’t have at least one bomb? Whoops, maybe I shouldn’t say that, there was “Toys”, and “Rocks”, and there was this small British band called the Beatles, but you see my point. The album was pretty much squashed before it hit the record stores, with Joe leaving midway through production, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Columbia was not happy with band’s direction and overall performance. Columbia replaced long time Producer and friend, and literally 6th member of the band, Jack Douglas, with Gary Lyons, and then suddenly due to lack of forecasted revenues from the sales of “Draw”, the label ordered the band back on tour to create the revenue to support the rest of production.  This was the infamous “Spilt Milk” tour, and show in Cleveland that was the nail in the coffin for this band. At least until they rose from the dead. Although let’s face it, if it wasn’t spilt milk, it would’ve been something else. Too many drugs, too many addictions, too many withdrawals, too much tension, too much infighting, too high of demands from the label, and even themselves. At this point the ride was over before the record hit.

It was already known that Joe left before it was finished, and there would be no more shows with the original band. It was already known especially after Draw the Line, that the band was now made up of junkies, rather than musicians. It was also a time when bands like The Clash, The Sex Pistols, even Siouxie and the Banshees, and even Joan Jett had a following after the very punkish Runaways split. People were ready for a new sound, a new act. It was hard to give your attention to 5 addicts On Stage fighting with each other.

With the record being only half finished, and most of Joe’s work already recorded, Brad, and Richie Supa, and Jimmy Crespo put the finishing touches on the album for release. But as we’ve come to know, you can paint a house a pretty new color, but it’s still the same house. However if you remove a cornerstone from the foundation of the house, and replace it with a weaker stone, your house is probably going to crumble. More importantly we can also see how, with the cornerstone removed, it’s just a single rock without the rest of it’s foundation, the rock has no house either. There is no Aerosmith without Joe. Joe is a great guitarist, but so much “less than” without Steven. Steven is just a singer without Joe. Truth is, it’s not just Steven and Joe either, It’s the original 5 guys… Together… That’s magic!

But, but, but, the licks for THIS song were already put down by Joe. This song already had that dynamic songwriting touch, that Aerosmith signature, that story telling in the way that only these guys can do it. That honest approach, that “Take it or, ‘Fuck You’, just fucking leave it!” approach.

This song tells you the story of discovery, and where they were at the time. It tells you the underdog story of band signed for egos, more egos, and then very evidently held down by egos within the business. It tells the story of a band whom was always trying to prove something in the early years, while the label was giving the silver spoon, and pouring money into Springsteen and B.O.C., they gave Aerosmith a can of Spaghetti O’s and told them to use the lid as a spoon, and then tossed them loose change. It’s almost as if Clive signed them just to spite Jerry Greenberg and Ahmet Ertegun from Atlantic Records. They were all there at Max’s.  Clive was going nuts over them. Atlantic met with Leber & Krebs, and basically said they suck, but will act like they like them just so Clive signs a dud.

The song introduces you to one of the most important people the band ever met, John O’Toole. Johnny O’Toole was one of the very first people that gave them room to really rehearse. John was as tough a dude as you’d ever like to meet, Ex-Con, with ongoing, but loose connections to the mob. He ran the Fenway Theater, and he allowed them to work at evolving from a High School Gym Band, to being a New York City Club Band. He gave them the place and time to be ready for the Max’s gig. He was the guy who introduced them to Frank Conoly, their first manager with commercial experience and connections to get the gig at Max’s.

The song also gets into a lot of what, both kept the guys touring so much, and into the real heart of what tore this band apart… The money, the business, the lack of royalties, the lack of fair representation., managers and record companies getting richer than the artists. Frank told the band just after they signed with Clive, which BTW, was Clive’s last signed act for Columbia; “That Leber’s a nice a guy, but watch out for Krebs, he’s a snake! All these record guys… serpents”. This is in the song. This is part of the 4:22 biography

And yes, there are parts about getting busted by the police for pot at 1325, there are parts about the first groupie, which there weren’t many of back then. Her name was Silverbird, who they called “Glitter Queen”, for obvious reasons. The chick that Johnny brought to the room after the show, woke Joey up in just a way you could imagine, and when he opened his eyes, Johnny was knocking at her backdoor at the same time. Welcome to the world of Rock n Roll! When she was done, she just smiled and asked where the rest of the band was…. Yeah, it’s in the song.

It even tells you about one of their first roadies, Gary Cabozzi, and the fight he got into trying to protect Joe & Steven after the Max’s show. There were a few drunks in the men’s room who he overheard saying they wanted “kill” Steven and Joe because they were wearing make up at the time (it was a New York thing), and just looking like that. Frank told Gary, to just get ‘em out of there as soon as the show’s over. The two came after Gary with lead pipes!

There are parts about how they felt about the music the labels were promoting, bubble gum rock, and it’s kind of ironic how he calls out ASCAP and BMI and then 30 years later, Steven and Joe get the ASCAP Founder’s Award for “making exceptional contributions to music, inspiring and influencing their fellow music creators”, but more than anything it’s a song about the underdog. A group who is forever being put on trial. A group forever compared to the mighty Rolling Stones, the famous Yardbirds, and Zeppelin, rather than just letting them play.  A group who was NOT surprised by their success. A group who knew who they were all along. A group who was not surprised by the actions of unscrupulous recording executives.
Easy for this one to be in my Top 10… There’s a lot goin’ on here! Steven has also said many times, that this song is his favorite Aerosmith song, although I’m sure his favorites change as often as my Top 10.

And how can you not sing the 8th verse to yourself, on an almost daily basis? Baby, it’s “No Surprise”

The official video gives you a band I don’t recognize, so I’m gonna leave with the audio only…

“Bad times go away 
Come again some other day 
Topaz and Sassafraz 
Will keep the blues away..”” 

“Candy store rock n’ roll 
Corporation jellyroll 
Play the singles it ain’t me 
It’s programmed insanity …”

“You ASCAP if BMI 
Could ever make a mountain fly 
If Japanese can boil teas 
Then where the fuck’s my royalties… aar
Yak yak yak yak ‘oow…”

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I am a man of simple means. My family is what's important to me. My family and my 3 girls mean more to than the sun! If you ask me what I think, I will tell you straight! So don't ask if you don't wanna know. I like people who are real and don't like those who aren't. You'll know where you fit with me pretty quick. I give most everyone the benefit of the doubt, at least until they prove me wrong. I've lived most my life like there was no tomorrow, at least until my daughters were born, and then even a bit after. By the way; That is NOT good advice... just a statement. I don't believe in "Halfway" Why put on the skis if you're not gonna at least try the face? But I also believe that there is more than Black and White. I believe in where I came from, I don't believe what I went through was ALL worth it! I believe in doing the right thing, more than doing what's right! I believe in "true" friendship, I also know that 99% of them aren't true. I will live a happy life and die a complete man if my kids learn from my mistakes.