Aerosmith Showcase 'Real Deal' On Live Double-Disc


Culled from 70-plus shows on '93, '97 tours, A Little South of Sanity features 25 years of hits from Boston-based rockers.

Contributing Editor Colin Devenish reports:

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry said that putting together the classic-rock band's new live album was all about keeping it real.

"You always have that feeling from a studio record that you can fix things, so you kind-of get an idea of what a band is all about when you hear a live record," the 48-year-old Perry said. "We didn't fix anything. We didn't go back in the studio. We didn't do anything like that. It really is the real deal as far as a live thing."

Aerosmith's raunchy, guitar-rock sound has kept the radio airwaves buzzing for more than 25 years, so it's not surprising that the veteran rockers opted to stick to the same old song-and-dance for their recently released, live double-disc, A Little South of Sanity.

"We didn't fix anything. We didn't go back in the studio. ... It really is the real deal." -- Joe Perry, Aerosmith guitarist

Despite garnering their first-ever #1 hit, this year's summer-single "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing," from the soundtrack to the film "Armageddon," Aerosmith have had some recent setbacks. Earlier this year, lead singer Steven Tyler seriously twisted his knee during a concert performance, and drummer Joey Kramer suffered burns in a freak car-fire at a gas station.

But now, the band has A Little South of Sanity in the marketplace, with the album landing at #12 on the Billboard 200 albums chart this week.

Joining forces with producer Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Patti Smith), who worked on earlier Aerosmith recordings, such as Toys in the Attic and Rocks, the New England-spawned quintet picked out 23 tracks from more than 70 shows during 1993's "Get A Grip" and 1997's "Nine Lives" tours.

Concerned with keeping the essence of Aerosmith's hard-rocking live sound intact, Douglas waded through hundreds of hours of tape and consulted with the band. He used Tyler's notes from the shows as a guide. Adding his own ideas from listening to the tapes, Douglas constructed the double-disc into a cohesive whole, making only cosmetic fixes.

"This is a totally live album," Douglas said. "I had to start with Steven's vocals. That was my first listen. ... Then, I would go to drums and bass. If there was a bass problem, say I was doing a track from Tokyo and there was a technical problem in bass, I might have to lift something from Detroit for one note and stick it in there. It keeps it live."

Drawing liberally from Aerosmith's catalog of hits, A Little South of Sanity serves as a live greatest-hits album, with such tracks as "Love In An Elevator" (RealAudio excerpt), "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" (RealAudio excerpt) and older hits, including "Dream On" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Sweet Emotion."

Although Aerosmith have long maintained a loyal fanbase stateside, Perry said the band has been impressed by enthusiastic throngs on foreign shores.

"Mexico City, I think that's on the [new] record," Perry said. "Costa Rica is on the record. Some of those gigs, we've been to those countries once and to have that kind of response from audiences was just mind-blowing. You know, all our crowds are pretty amazing" (interview excerpt).

Comprised of Tyler, Perry, Kramer, guitarist Brad Whitford and bassist Tom Hamilton, Aerosmith rocketed out of the Sunapee, N.H., music scene with the release of their self-titled debut in 1973.

They've produced a steady stream of hits in the years since, and this summer's #1-hit success couldn't have come at a better time, Perry said.

"It's pretty amazing," he said. "[It] was really cool especially since we were off the road because of Steven's injury and Joey's accident. To have that [hit single] simmering along all summer was just great" (interview excerpt).