Pump – Aerosmith (1989)

pump

****1/2

It took over a decade, but in 1989, Aerosmith finally came out with an album that can be considered on the same level as their best work from the mid-’70s. Like on Permanent Vacation, Aerosmith enlisted the help of songwriters Desmond Child and Jim Vallance, but the difference here is these outside collaborators only worked on three of the album’s 10 songs. The rest of them were written solely by the band members just like in the old days, including one of the band’s biggest hits ever, “Love in an Elevator” which probably has been played on every Aerosmith live performance since it was released. It’s a great song and it’s not alone; some of Aerosmith’s best work ever comes from this album including the dual sexual savagery of “Young Lust” and “F.I.N.E.,” the horn popping “Take Me to the Other Side” and another one of the greatest power ballads ever written with “What it Takes.” What’s surprising is that Aerosmith didn’t just stop with these lust-filled sexual escapades as their subject matter, they started broaching other much more socially conscious topics like climate change (“Hoodoo/Voodoo Medicine Man”) and even incest and child predation “Janie’s Got a Gun,” the latter of which earned the band their first ever Grammy. There’s so much good stuff here, it’s almost a wonder that Pump isn’t Aerosmith’s best album ever, but there is a bit of filler thrown in to pad the album’s length like “My Girl” and “Don’t Get Mad, Get Even,” that hold the album back from breaching into legendary territory. But even this album’s throwaway tracks were better than the majority of what the band had come up with on Draw the Line through Done with Mirrors, so it’s hard to complain. With Pump there was no doubt that not only was Aerosmith one of the formative bands of ’70s Rock, they had successfully transitioned into Reagan-era hitmakers. And that put them in a league almost entirely of their own.

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