Aerosmith's new CD, 'Nine Lives,' may well go 
down as one of the top releases of the year, if not the decade. It's a 
discernibly kick-ass record that contains one little gem after another
Aerosmith: Five Cats from Boston Show How It's Done with 'Nine Lives'
For more recent Aerosmith (Feb '99), click here         March 1997

Aerosmith’s new CD, Nine Lives may well go down as one of the top releases of the year. It’s a discernibly kick-ass record that contains one little gem after another -- actually, not so little, since one track, "Fallen Angel," clocks in at roughly eight minutes.

Why the title Nine Lives? "It was just a song we were writing in Florida," says Steven Tyler, "and someone said, Hey, what a good name for an album, and one thing led to another. But I think [Aerosmith] has much more than 9 lives, probably more like 20 based on our past behavior, based on what we’ve done."

Obviously, we feel pretty strongly about this album and we’d be willing to bet that we’re not going to be alone in this sentiment. This ain’t no disco, folks, this is fierce rock & roll brought to you by the Pride of Boston. Tyler’s voice is in top form, screeching, yelping and clawing on top of the Hamilton-Whitford- Kramer rhythm section. Joe Perry’s guitar work is masterful as usual. The songs are lyrically and structurally superb.

The band re-signed with their original label, Columbia, about six years ago after a stint with Geffen records. Judging by the Nine Lives release, the relationship is working well. "[Columbia] made this commitment to our long-term future," says bassist Tom Hamilton. "It blew our minds."

"They made us an offer we couldn’t refuse," adds Tyler.

Specifically, that "offer" is a contract estimated by sources to be worth roughly 50 million dollars. Interestingly enough, Columbia entered into the agreement with Aerosmith while the band was still signed to Geffen, resulting in a five year wait for the band to start turning out product. Fortunately for the label, that product is pretty damn good.

For production duties, Aerosmith originally chose Glen Ballard and gave him instructions to give the record a "rougher and rawer sound" than their previous releases had. "Tom [Hamilton] handed me the Alanis Morissette record and said this is his latest thing," says Joe Perry. "The thing that we learned early on is that the guy is just a wonderful human being that loves to work with musicians and we felt that we could be working with someone who would not only encourage us to try a lot of new things but also someone who didn’t put the business priorities first. Plus, he makes great espresso."

Unfortunately, Ballard, whose background includes working with jazz artists such as Quincy Jones, didn’t quite achieve the rougher-and-rawer sound that the band was looking for. The mix came in too soft for the band’s taste and Aerosmith was forced to retrench.

To rectify the Aerosmith-Lite syndrome, the band brought in Kevin Shirley who was able to create a sound that satisfied the band’s collective palate. But production difficulties were not the only problems that plagued the spawning of Nine Lives. The band not only switched producers in the midst of the project but managers also. Additionally, personality problems surfaced and old tensions were rekindled during the recording process. Rumors of renewed drug abuse -- specifically on Tyler’s part -- abounded, although Tyler repeatedly and vehemently denies all allegations. "I don’t think anybody’ll know how close we came to breaking up last summer," says Perry.

To promote Nine Lives, Aerosmith is preparing to embark on a two-year tour with opening act Kula Shaker. How does one survive such a long time on the road? Touring is "just a kind of a mind set," says guitarist Brad Whitford. "You just hope the body follows."

When asked what ultimately keeps the band going, Whitford jokes, "We all owe each other a lot of money. It’s the only way we know we’ll pay each other back."

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