By Steve Wiseman

Throughout 2013, we’re celebrating classic albums that are reaching their 50th, 40th and 30th anniversaries.  Over the weekend, Aerosmith‘s classic self-titled debut turned 40. Here, we take a look at the album and its story.

The Story: The Bad Boys of Boston were signed to Columbia Records in 1972 after label head Clive Davis saw them perform at Max’s Kansas City in New York City.  They recorded their debut with Adrian Barber, who had also worked on albums by Cream, The Allman Brothers Band and The Rascals. The album was not a success when it came out, but has gone on to sell over a million copies in the U.S. Most of the songs on the album were written by Steven Tyler; one exception was “Movin’ Out,” the first song Tyler and Joe Perry ever wrote together.

The Hits: “Dream On,” of course.  Although at the time, it wasn’t a smash. It went to #59 on the singles chart in 1973, but when it was reissued in 1976 (after the success of “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion”) it hit #6.

The Other Tracks: “Mama Kin” has gone on to become a concert staple. Ditto for their cover of Rufus Thomas’ “Walkin’ The Dog.”  It probably wasn’t a coincidence that Aerosmith chose to cover a song that The Rolling Stones covered on their debut, nine years earlier.

The Players: The lineup in 1973 is the same as it is today (although some members have left and returned): Steven Tyler on vocals, harmonica and piano, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford on guitars, Tom Hamilton on bass and Joey Kramer on drums.  Guest saxophonist David Woodford played on “Mama Kin” and “Write Me A Letter.”

What Happened Next: By the end of the year, Aerosmith was back in the studio, recording their second album, Get Your Wings, which came out the following year. It wouldn’t be until their third album, 1975’s Toys In The Attic, that they’d become huge stars.

Fun Fact: The members of Aerosmith used to live at 1325 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, which is where they wrote several of the songs on the album.  Last year, the band returned to play a free concert on a flatbed truck in front of their old apartment. They opened with three songs from Aerosmith, “Walkin’ The Dog,” “Movin’ Out” and “Mama Kin.”

— Brian Ives, 


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