Lavishly produced and spotlessly delivered, Nine Lives is a great example of perfect professionalism losing its soul. The 12th studio album from Aerosmith, a full 24 years into their recording career, is too long, contains too many lacklustre tracks, and too few winners.
But Nine Lives also avoids any major missteps, as it unspools one highly polished song after another, all chasing wide appeal, radio success, and slick videos. There is little that is wrong with the grand orchestral arrangements and the loudly energetic horns; there is also little that is innovative, dangerous, or groundbreaking.
Two tracks stand out from the rest. Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees) grasps the amped-up bouncy background and places it squarely at centre stage, where the horns and persuasive guitar line do the rest. Pink is an in-your-face encounter with Steven Tyler's personality, propelled by a harmonica that tries for soulful without disguising lecherous. It drips faux emotion and creates an irresistible puddle.
As for the rest, Nine Lives, Taste Of India, Something's Gotta Give and Crash are solidly entertaining and confident tracks, but then there are seven more songs on the CD grasping for an argument to exist and not finding much of an audience.
Nine Lives would have benefited from restricting itself to nine tracks, but much like the cat that is surviving for the sake of survival, even that would have meant the album overstaying its welcome.
Steven Tyler - Vocals
Joe Perry - Guitar
Brad Whitford - Guitar
Tom Hamilton - Bass
Joey Kramer - Drums
Songlist (ratings out of 10):
1. Nine Lives - 8
2. Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees) - 9
3. Hole In My Soul - 7
4. Taste Of India - 8
5. Full Circle - 7
6. Something's Gotta Give - 8
7. Ain't That A Bitch - 7
8. The Farm - 7
9. Crash - 8
10. Kiss Your Past Good-bye - 7
11. Pink - 9
12. Attitude Adjustment - 6
13. Fallen Angels - 6
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Kevin Shirley.
Mastered by Leon Zervos.
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