Get Your Wings is the second studio album by American rock band Aerosmith, released March 1, 1974. The album is the first to feature production from Jack Douglas, who produced the band's next four albums. Three singles were released from the album, but none of them made the pop charts.
The album has been released in stereo and quadraphonic, and certified triple platinum by the RIAA.
In 1973, Aerosmith released its debut album to little fanfare. As guitarist Joe Perry recalled in the 1997 band memoir Walk This Way, "There was no nothing at all: no press, no radio, no airplay, no reviews, no interviews, no party. Instead the album got ignored and there was a lot of anger and flipping out." The band had been somewhat nervous recording their first album, with vocalist Steven Tyler going so far to alter his singing voice, and they had very little chemistry with producer Adrian Barber. The band moved into an apartment in Brookline and began intensive rehearsals in a dungeon-like basement of a store called Drummer's Image on Newbury Street. By the time they began recording Get Your Wings, however, Jack Douglas had agreed to work with the band, beginning a long and successful studio collaboration. According to Perry, Columbia had wanted the band to work with Bob Ezrin, who was also a producer with Alice Cooper. It was Ezrin who introduced the band to Douglas, and for "all practical purposes, Jack became our producer. Ezrin might have shown up three or four times, but only to make suggestions, like bringing in additional musicians to augment our sound."
Recording and composition
Get Your Wings was recorded at the Record Plant in New York City between December 1973 and January 1974. Jay Messina engineered the sessions. Douglas later recalled, "To the best of my memory, the preproduction work for Get Your Wings started in the back of a restaurant that was like a Mob hangout in the North End. I commuted there from the Copley Plaza Hotel and they started to play me the songs they had for their new album. My attitude was: 'What can I do to make them sound like themselves?'"
One of the most famous tracks is a cover of "Train Kept A-Rollin'", made famous by one of Aerosmith's favorite bands, the Yardbirds. According to Douglas, the crowd noise at the end of the track was taken from a "wild track" from The Concert for Bangladesh, which he had worked on. The single version omits the echo and crowd noise. Notable for its start/stop groove, the song became their signature show-stopper, and still ends concerts today. In 1997, drummer Joey Kramer explained to Alan Di Perna of Guitar World that its unique rhythmic feel originated "probably just from jamming on it at soundcheck and experimenting with putting a James Brown kind of beat behind it. I played with a lot of R&B-type groups before joining Aerosmith". In the same interview, Perry stated that "Train" was the one song "we all had in common when we came together."
In 1997, Perry told Aerosmith biographer Stephen Davis:
The tracks were the stuff we'd been working on at our apartment on Beacon Street in the summer of '73. I wrote the riff to "Same Old Song and Dance" one night in the front room and Steven just started to sing along. "Spaced" happened the same way in the studio, with a lot of input from Jack. "S.O.S." meant "Same Old Shit" and came from the rehearsals at the Drummer's Image... "Lord of the Thighs" and "Seasons of Wither" were Steven's songs. Of all the ballads Aerosmith has done, "Wither" was the one I liked best.
In his autobiography, Tyler writes that "Seasons of Wither" had been "germinating in my head for a long time, but the other more sinister tracks, like 'Lord of the Thighs', came from the seedy area where we recorded the album. 'Lord of the Thighs' was about a pimp and the wildlife out on the street." Tyler plays the piano on "Lord of the Thighs", whose opening beat is similar to the one Kramer would tap out a year later in "Walk This Way". He stated that the title was a pun on the famous William Golding novel Lord of the Flies, and "the critics hated us for this. We weren't supposed to be smart enough to use literary references".
The original lyric for "Same Old Song and Dance" – 'Got you with the cocaine, found with your gun' – was altered for the single version to 'You shady looking loser, you played with my gun'.
The closing "Pandora's Box" was written by Kramer, who recalled in 1997: "The summer before, we'd rented a farmhouse in East Thetford, Vermont, while we were rehearsing in New Hampshire, and that's where I wrote the melody of 'Pandora's Box.' Steven wrote the lines about women's liberation, a big new issue in those times." According to Douglas, the clarinet at the start of the track is a union engineer playing "I'm in the Mood for Love".
In 2014 Perry reflected, "We all put in endless hours, fueled by whatever substances were available...I knew the album, in spite of a few bright spots, still didn't capture the power of the band. We were better than the record we were making. And yet I didn't know how to get there. I didn't know how to get from good to great.
"On the second album," Tyler noted, "the songs found my voice. I realised that it's not about having a beautiful voice and hitting all the notes; it's about attitude."
User Album Review
Maintaining an agile balance between Yardbirds- and Who-styled rock and Seventies heavy metal, Aerosmith’s second album surges with pent-up fury yet avoids the excesses to which many of their peers succumb. The music of the five-member group contains the vital elements of economy and control — no ill-advised solo extravaganzas. The snarling chords of guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford tautly propel each number, jibing neatly with the rawness of singer Steven Tyler, whose discipline is evident no matter how he shrieks, growls, or spits out the lyrics.
Throughout Get Your Wings the group consistently integrates their influences into their own approach. On “Spaced,” Whitford unleashes a barrage of Townshend-inspired chords, by now an Aerosmith trademark, while the choppy rhythm and horn work of “Pandora’s Box” are a hard-rock interpretation of soul, suggesting the Stones. “Seasons Of Wither” is a surprising change of pace, a haunting arrangement that creates a rough-hewn prettiness. The group’s dynamics are expert, deftly blending the hard and soft interludes. Perry makes exceptional use of feedback at the end, while Tyler’s restraint reveals a Led Zeppelin influence.
“Train Kept A Rollin’,” a reworking of the Yardbirds’ classic, is a master demonstration of their style. Their new arrangement begins by retaining the feel of the earlier work, only to cleverly segue into what sounds like a live take, although it was recorded in the studio. They then execute a near-duplication of the Yardbirds’ performance that stands remarkably well on its own. That cut proves they’ve absorbed yet varied the styles of their mentors, creating their own in the process. They think 1966 and play 1974 — something which a lot of groups would like to boast.
External Album Reviews