Picks and Pans Review: Permanent Vacation

updated 10/19/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/19/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Aerosmith

Run-D.M.C.'s version of Walk This Way was an enormous breakthrough for the rap group. Benefitting even more was Aerosmith, the hard-rocking band that had originally recorded the song and was itself attempting a comeback after five years that its members spent apart. Suddenly the band had viability and a high profile among a new generation of young fans. Their second album since regrouping is an interesting failure in that it flirts unashamedly with the ear but rarely delivers the goods. The tone is set on the first song, Heart's Done Time, a murky guitar grind. Joe Perry gets off a few searing riffs on his six-string, but not enough to float this iron butterfly. Meanwhile, Steve Tyler's voice has thickened and deepened so much over the years that, aside from an occasional obligatory screech, it's hard to tell this is he. (On occasions during live shows, his pipes had been known to go almost entirely.) Despite the collaboration of songwriters like Jim Vallance and Holly Knight, the music is creatively confined. There is a good number of catchy, melodic phrases and guitar textures, but they're all patently derivative. Certain songs have a genuine freshness to them, notably the single Dude (Looks Like a Lady), which shares with the Kinks's Lola the moral that lights in a bar can be very deceiving. Aerosmith does a version of the Beatles' I'm Down too, even though the Beastie Boys were refused permission to include the song on their album last year. (Michael Jackson, who owns a large portion of the Beatles' catalogue, personally turned the Beasties down after hearing their version.) At least this band sounds as if it's having something on the order of fun, and the boys have maintained enough of their original bruising style on this record to stay popular. All they've lost along the way is some of the spirit of the thing. Anyway, the fact that Aerosmith is around at all, after the insane kamikaze partying in which they've occasionally been known to indulge, means these guys have got to be tougher than stewing chickens. (Geffen)

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