By: Jesse Striewski
Shortly before Aerosmith released their fifteenth (and arguably their most commercially successful) album Get a Grip in 1993, I was introduced to the band via their classic 1975 offering Toys in the Attic when I came upon it among a pile of other cassettes in my family’s community “stash” of tapes and CD’s. I was roughly around twelve years old, and while I had already owned albums by the likes of M.C. Hammer and “Weird Al” Yankovic (naturally), Toys… was the first rock record that ever fully crossed my path. And what a game changer it was.
Not long after my discovery, the band released said Get a Grip album on April 20, 1993, and I was there for it all the way. I would actually shell out the few bucks it cost for a cassette single each and every time the band dropped a new song, slowly leading up to getting the album itself (I eventually would on Christmas morning that very same year, along with the band’s 1973 self-titled debut album along with it). By all accounts, the album was marketed perfectly, and I was just the right audience for it at the time.
Get a Grip starts off with an odd little intro that finds frontman Steven Tyler “rapping” some lyrics before kicking into high gear with “Eat the Rich,” arguably the most aggressive (and one of the best) track on the entire album. The equally fun title track and “Fever” follow before “Livin’ on the Edge,” the first single initially released from the record and one of the most unique videos made for any of the album’s singles (featuring Terminator 2 actor Edward Furlong).
“Flesh” takes things to a darker level, while the Joe Perry-penned “Walk on Down” brings a cool blues-ridden swag to things. “Shut up and Dance” was co-written by Damn Yankees bandmates Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw, and the band was also featured performing the track in the film Wayne’s World 2 (released later that same year). It’s at that point the “ballads” really start taking hold with the song and video that introduced the world (and every eager twelve-year-old boy at the time, such as myself) to a young Alicia Silverstone, “Cryin’.”
“Gotta Love It” is sandwiched between “Cryin'” and another Silverstone track, “Crazy,” which is where most of us also first caught a glimpse of Tyler’s tall glass of water daughter, Liv. “Line Up” is a catchy number co-written by Lenny Kravitz that somehow found its way into the 1994 Jim Carrey vehicle Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Last but not least of the “Silverstone Trio” (and preceding the most forgettable track on the album, “Boogie Man”) “Amazing,” which featured a cutting-edge technology (at the time at least) virtual reality themed-video, and co-starring actor Jason London. Co-written by long time collaborator Richie Supa, the song also featured vocals from Don Henley of The Eagles.
Often when brought up today, Get a Grip is not regarded by many as one of their favorite Aerosmith albums (I can see now why some would feel this way). But the facts are undeniable; it was the band’s first release in their then-twenty plus year career to reach number one on the Billboard 200, and still their highest selling-album to date. Several of the hits are still played on rock radio stations to this day, and something tells me most bands that have not achieved the same level of success would absolutely welcome it.