Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25: Aerosmith, "Lord Of The Thighs"

Artist: Aerosmith
Song: "Lord Of The Thighs"
Album: Get Your Wings
Year: 1974

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Of all the things that have been proven time and time again over the course of music history, one of the most interesting trends is that of bands creating superior songs as "last minute" additions to albums.  There are countless cases where a band has either had extra studio time or needed a final song for their record, and the song gets written and recorded quickly, yet it yields one of the groups finest efforts.  Of the many bands who have found themselves in such a situation, one of the greatest examples comes from a group who experienced this during work on their second record, while they were still fighting to gain notoriety.  Though they are now a household name across the globe, during the first half of the 1970's, legendary rockers Aerosmith were still trying to find a song that would propel them to greatness.  With neither of the singles from their first record ("Dream On" and "Mama Kin") even managing to crack the top fifty singles, the band returned to the studio and recorded what would become their 1974 release, Get Your Wings.  Having already completed the recording of the songs they had brought to the studio, the band felt they still needed one more song, so legend says they locked themselves in a rehearsal space, and soon thereafter, they emerged with one of their finest, yet most risqué tunes.  Keeping their blues rock roots intact, it is largely this song that made Aerosmith's slightly sleazy themes come completely info focus, and this is a style the band would perfect over the following decades.  Bringing an amazingly catchy groove and one of the finest vocal performances in the bands' history, this "rushed" effort stands as on of their greatest, and there are few songs with a similar sound and mood to Aerosmith's 1974 classic, "Lord Of The Thighs."

During their early years and over their first few records, Aerosmith proved that they were truly masters of "the groove," and found a number of different ways to deploy this fantastic musical concept at various tempos and within a range of moods.  On "Lord Of The Thighs," bassist Tom Hamilton presents one of his finest progressions, and the manner in which he locks into the groove with drummer Joey Kramer is in many ways, "what" the groove is all about.  Kramer's shifting tempo on the opening, before dropping into a tight rhythm shows him in a different light than on nearly any other Aerosmith song, and it remains perhaps his greatest performance.  Adding to this amazing sound are the dual guitars of Brad Whitford and Joe Perry, and this wall of sound created by the trio works just as well on this slower, slightly darker arrangement as it does on the bands' more famous, more upbeat numbers.  As the song winds through its different sections, the groove is never lost, and the musicians prove that they are able to put a hard rock spin over-top this soulful style, which is a feat that has rarely been accomplished to such a high level elsewhere in music history.  Filling out the sound is piano work from Steven Tyler, and it is largely within his playing that the blues-based roots of the band lives.  Unlike many of Aerosmith's other songs, on "Lord Of The Thighs," the musical arrangement is somewhat sparse, and though Perry rips off a brilliant solo (though Whitford plays a majority of the lead parts), the overall sound on the song is more open, yet almost uncharacteristically funky.  This style drives home the songs' gritter, more menacing mood, as well as leaving plenty of room for the vocals to shine.

It is the vocal work and sound that is perhaps the only element that is more distinguishable than the guitar playing within the music of Aerosmith.  Though many have attempted to copy his sound, there has simply never been another vocalist in music history that sounds quite like Steven Tyler.  From his trademark screams to the attitude that lies underneath all his vocals, Tyler is truly an original, and "Lord Of The Thighs" may very well be his greatest studio performance.  It is a rare occasion that a vocalist captures the mood of a song as Tyler does on this song, and one can almost picture him standing on a street corner, scoping the women as the pass, with a devilish grin across his face.  The spunk and bravado of the character on the song come through with brilliant clarity, and this is much of the reason why the song is one of the bands' finest.  In reality, "Lord Of The Thighs" is a rather dark affair, spinning the tale of a pimp who is "recruiting" a new "worker" for his business.  The pimp in question "is" the songs' title bearer, as the song is largely summed up when Tyler sings, " must have come here to find me, you've got the look in your eyes...although you really don't mind it, I am the Lord Of Your Thighs..."  This phrasing leaves little to the imagination, and while there is certainly a tongue-in-cheek aspect to the words, one can also see them as very dark, and within this point of view, the song drastically seperates itself from the rest of the Aerosmith catalog.  Without question, "Lord Of The Thighs" represents one of Steven Tyler's finest and darkest lyrics, and combined with the fantastic groove of the band, the song remains one of the most mesmerizing yet dangerously dark songs ever recorded.

Throughout their nearly four decades of recording, Aerosmith has made their name for their brilliant songs, most of which speak to the loving and lusting of women.  While nearly every one of their hits is a send-up in a positive light, one cannot deny the spectacular performance that all five band members bring to the gritty and provocative "Lord Of The Thighs."  Though it was written in a bit of a rush in order to finish their second record, the song serves as proof that often times, such time restraints can force a group of musicians to focus, as the results here are nothing short of music legend.  While "Lord Of The Thighs" was not released as a single, it quickly became a fan favorite and was a staple of their live performances for decades.  Furthermore, the song became a favorite among Aerosmith's fellow musicians, as well as many artists that followed, and the longevity of the song was driven home when the lyrics were "gender flipped" by The Breeders on the b-side of their 1994 single, Cannonball.  Exemplifying everything that makes Aerosmith such an iconic band, the group creates a blueprint for how one can take a hard rock style and make it funky without sacrificing and of the power or attitude in the process.  While Kramer's drum opening bears a great resemblance to the opening of "Walk This Way," this is where any similarity to the rest of the bands' catalog ends, and it is largely this difference in sound and style that has made the song such a significant part of the bands' history.  Creating an amazingly vivid and believable character, the dark and rather menacing lyrics are the key aspect in what remains one of Aerosmith's most impressive songs, 1974's "Lord Of The Thighs."

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