It seemed like everything was over for Aerosmith until they got the call from producer Rick Rubin, who was working with a young rap group called Run-DMC that were interested in collaborating with Aerosmith and re-cutting their classic record “Walk This Way.” Seizing the opportunity to become relevant again, Aerosmith jumped at it and it paid off in a fashion so grand, even Steven Tyler wouldn’t have dreamed it. “Walk This Way” with Run-DMC was a massive near chart-topping success, certainly Aerosmith’s biggest hit ever, and a year later, after working with some outside songwriters for the first time, they released their true comeback album Permanent Vacation, which ended up selling over 4 million copies, more than any of their albums since 1976’s Rocks. And though Permanent Vacation is nowhere near the level of that classic album, it’s rewarding to hear it after listening to a decade’s worth of music with frankly limited appeal.
That isn’t to say that Permanent Vacation wasn’t completely devoid of missteps; Aerosmith still struggled to come up with good material when they were without the songwriting talent of Desmond Child, Jim Vallance and Holly Knight. The Steven Tyler-penned “St. John” would’ve been much better as an instrumental and “Girl Keeps Coming Apart” and the title track, which Steven wrote with Joe Perry and Brad Whitford respectively, were even worse, sounding more like Done with Mirrors records than Rock n’ Roll classics. But there must’ve been some kind of chemistry between those three songwriters and the band because some of Aerosmith’s greatest songs ever came out of those collaborative sessions. “Magic Touch,” “Rag Doll,” Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” and “Angel” were all massive hits, and could stand comfortably alongside many of Aerosmith’s ’70s classics. “Angel” in particular was a mega smash, it peaked at the No. 3 position on the charts outdoing even Tyler and Perry’s collaboration with Run-DMC just a year earlier. Suddenly Aerosmith was back with a vengeance, and they weren’t about to let their momentum wane.