Toys in the Attic (album)
|Toys in the Attic|
|Studio album by Aerosmith|
|Released||April 8, 1975|
|Recorded||January – March 1975 at The Record Plant|
|Genre||Hard rock, blues rock|
|Singles from Toys in the Attic|
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Toys in the Attic is the third studio album by American rock band Aerosmith, released in April 1975 by Columbia Records. Its first single release, "Sweet Emotion", was released a month later on May 19 and "Walk This Way" was later released on August 28 in the same year. The album is their most commercially successful studio LP in the US, with eight million copies sold, according to the RIAA.
Steven Tyler said that his original idea for the album cover was a teddy bear sitting in the attic with its wrist cut and stuffing spread across the floor. They decided, in the end, to put all of the animals in instead.
The album was ranked #229 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. "Walk This Way" and the album's title track are part of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.
For Aerosmith's previous album, 1974's Get Your Wings, the band began working with record producer Jack Douglas, who co-produced the album with Ray Colcord. In the liner notes to the 1993 reissue of Greatest Hits it was said by an unnamed member of the group that they "nailed" the album. At the beginning of 1975 the band started working at The Record Plant in New York City for the album that became Toys in the Attic. The sessions for Toys were produced by Douglas without Colcord - the album was engineered by Jay Messina with assistant engineers Rod O'Brien, Corky Stasiak and Dave Thoener. The songs for Toys were recorded with a Spectrasonics mixing board and a 16-track tape recorder. By this point, Aerosmith had fully matured as a band and Steven Tyler made sex the primary focus of his songwriting on the album.
According to producer Jack Douglas, "Aerosmith was a different band when we started the third album. They'd been playing Get Your Wings on the road for a year and had become better players - different. It showed in the riffs that Joe [Perry] and Brad [Whitford] brought back from the road for the next album. Toys in the Attic was a much more sophisticated record than the other stuff they'd done."[full citation needed] In the band memoir Walk This Way, guitarist Joe Perry concurs, "When we started to make Toys in the Attic, our confidence was built up from constant touring."[full citation needed] Preproduction took place in the attic at Angel Studios in Ashland, Massachusetts.[full citation needed]
Recording and composition
Aerosmith's third album includes some of their best known songs, including "Walk This Way," "Sweet Emotion," and the storming title track. "Walk This Way" starts out with a two measure drum beat intro by Joey Kramer, followed by the well known guitar riff by Joe Perry. The song proceeds with the main riff made famous by Perry and Brad Whitford on guitar with Tom Hamilton on bass. The song continues with rapid fire lyrics by Steven Tyler. The song originated in December 1974 during a sound check when Aerosmith was opening for The Guess Who in Honolulu. During the sound check, Perry was "fooling around with riffs and thinking about The Meters", a group guitarist Jeff Beck had turned him on to. Loving "their riffy New Orleans funk, especially 'Cissy Strut' and 'People Say'", he asked the drummer "to lay down something flat with a groove on the drums." The guitar riff to what would become "Walk This Way" just "came off [his] hands." Needing a bridge, he:
"played another riff and went there. But I didn't want the song to have a typical, boring 1, 4, 5 chord progression. After playing the first riff in the key of C, I shifted to E before returning to C for the verse and chorus. By the end of the sound check, I had the basics of a song."
When singer Steven Tyler heard Perry playing that riff he "ran out and sat behind the drums and [they] jammed." Tyler scatted "nonsensical words initially to feel where the lyrics should go before adding them later." When the group was halfway through recording Toys in the Attic in early 1975 at Record Plant in New York City, they found themselves stuck for material. They had written three or four songs for the album, having "to write the rest in the studio." They decided to give the song Perry had come up with in Hawaii a try, but it didn't have lyrics or a title yet. In 1997, Perry recalled that the idea for the funky, James Brown-influenced "Walk This Way" was inspired by the film Young Frankenstein, which the band had gone to see around the time they were working on the track:
- We were working on that song and we took a break to go see the movie in Times Square...and we came to the part where Marty Feldman as Igor limps down the steps of the train platform and says to Gene Wilder, "Walk this way," which Gene does with the same hideous limp. We fell over ourselves because it was so funny in a recognizably Three Stooges mode.
At the hotel that night Tyler wrote lyrics for the song, but left them in the cab on the way to the studio next morning. He says: "I must have been stoned. All the blood drained out of my face, but no one believed me. They thought I never got around to writing them." Upset, he took a cassette tape with the instrumental track we had recorded and a portable tape player with headphones and "disappeared into the stairwell." He "grabbed a few No. 2 pencils" but forget to take paper. He wrote the lyrics on the wall at "the Record Plant's top floor and then down a few stairs of the back stairway." After "two or three hours" he "ran downstairs for a legal pad and ran back up and copied them down." The lyrics, which tell the story of a high school boy losing his virginity, are sung quite fast by Tyler, with heavy emphasis being placed on the rhyming lyrics.
It was bassist Tom Hamilton who came up with the main lick on "Sweet Emotion." In 1997 during a band interview with Alan Di Perna of Guitar World the members discussed the evolution of the song, which owes a debt to the Jeff Beck composition "Rice Pudding":
- Hamilton: I wrote that line on bass, and I realized I should think of some guitar parts for it if I was ever going to get a chance to present it to the band. I didn't think I ever would...Steven had the idea of taking that intro riff, which became the chorus bass line under the "sweet emotion" part, and transposing it into the key of E, and making it a really heavy Led Zeppelinesque thing.
- Whitford: We kind of bastardized that lick from "Rice Pudding," didn't we?
- Hamilton: That part came from all the times that we listened to Rough and Ready.
Many Aerosmith fans believe that Tyler wrote all of the lyrics to "Sweet Emotion" about the tension and hatred between the band members and Joe Perry's wife. Tyler himself has said that only some of the lyrics were inspired by Perry's wife. It was stated in Aerosmith's tell-all autobiography Walk This Way and in an episode of Behind the Music that growing feuds between the band members' wives (including an incident involving "spilt milk" where Elyssa Perry threw milk over Tom Hamilton's wife, Terry) may have helped lead to the band's original lineup dissolving in the early 1980s. Hamilton and Tyler also collaborated on "Uncle Salty," with Tyler recalling in his 2001 autobiography, "Here I was thinking about an orphanage when I wrote those lyrics. I'd try to make the melody weep from the sadness felt when a child is abandoned."[full citation needed] Of the title track, Tyler added, "Joe was jamming a riff and I started yelling, 'Toys, toys, toys...' Organic, immediate, infectious...I just started singing and it fit like chocolate and peanut butter. Joe plays his ass off on that song."[full citation needed]
Perhaps the most ambitious recording on the album is "You See Me Crying," a complex piano ballad that was heavily orchestrated. Jack Douglas brought in a symphony orchestra for the song, which was conducted by Mike Mainieri. The song itself was written by lead singer Steven Tyler and outside collaborator Don Solomon. Some of the band members became frustrated with the song, which took a long time to complete, due to the many complex drum and guitar parts. The band's label, Columbia Records, was nonetheless very impressed with the song and the recording process. Bruce Lundvall, then-president of Columbia Records walked in on the recording sessions for Toys when the band was working on the song and remarked: "You guys got an incredible thing going here. I just came from a Herbie Hancock session and this is much more fun". (While Aerosmith were planning the "Back in the Saddle" concert tour and recording the "Done with Mirrors" album during 1984, a radio DJ played the song. Steven, who was suffering memory loss at the time from years of drug use, liked the song so much, he suggested his group record a cover version, only to be told by his bandmate Joe Perry, "It's us, fuckhead.") The album also features a cover of Bullmoose Jackson's "Big Ten Inch Record," first heard by the band on a tape from Dr. Demento's radio show on KLOS (In the liner notes to Pandora's Box, Steven Tyler insists that he sings "'cept on my big ten inch..." not suck on my big ten inch," but laments that no one on earth believes him). In the 1997, Tyler shared his memories about writing and recording several of the LP's tracks with author Stephen Davis:[full citation needed]
- "No More No More": "On a song like 'No More No More,' the lyrics came from my verbal diarrhea, a mishmash that I made up and eventually changed the lyrics to something cool...about life on the road: boredom, disillusion, Holiday Inns, stalemate, jailbait. My diary."
- "You See Me Crying": "This was when we had a string orchestra in to work on 'You See Me Crying,' which I wrote with Don Solomon, a big production conducted by Mike Maineri."
- "Sweet Emotion": "Frank Connally sold us to Leber-Krebs for what - I don't know...On 'Sweet Emotion,' we used these backward handclaps and four of us in the studio chanting, 'Fuck you, Frank.' If you play it backward, you can hear this."
- "Uncle Salty": "Salty worked in a home for lost children and had his way with this little girl. That's what it's about. I'm the little girl, the orphaned boy. I put myself in that place. I'm Uncle Salty too."
- "Adam's Apple": I don't remember anything except I arranged it and must have fought for credit. And I originally wanted to call the album Love at First Bite after the line in the song."
The album would gain renewed attention in 1986, eleven years after its release, when the hip-hop group Run DMC covered "Walk This Way", which helped revive Aerosmith's then-flagging career as well as propel rap music to the mainstream.
Reception and legacy
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
When Toys in the Attic was released in April 1975, it eventually made #11 on the Billboard 200, a full 63 positions higher than Get Your Wings. The single release of "Sweet Emotion" became a minor hit on the Billboard Hot 100 reaching #36 in 1975 and "Walk This Way" reached #10 on the Hot 100 in 1977. The album also introduced to contemporary audiences a rock n' roll cover of "Big Ten Inch Record," which was originally an old R&B song recorded by Bull Moose Jackson in 1952. Rather than produce a rock reimagining, Aerosmith's cover largely stays true to the original song, down to its jazz-style instrumentation. For his review of Toys in the Attic for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine called the album's style a mix of Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones riffs, and said it was filled with songs about sex with a different style than there ever was before. Greg Kot called the album a landmark of hard rock. For the Blender magazine review, Ben Mitchell called Toys in the Attic cocaine-influenced and mentions the songs "Toys in the Attic", "Walk This Way", and "Sweet Emotion" as "standout tracks".
Aerosmith make reference to the album and its lyrics in the song "Legendary Child". The line "But we traded them toys for other joys" refers to the title of the album and their struggles with addiction. It may also be referring to the title track of the same name. The line "I took a chance at the high school dance never knowing wrong from right" references lyrics from the songs "Walk This Way" and "Adam's Apple" respectively.
|1.||"Toys in the Attic"||Steven Tyler, Joe Perry||3:07|
|2.||"Uncle Salty"||Tyler, Tom Hamilton||4:09|
|4.||"Walk This Way"||Tyler, Perry||3:41|
|5.||"Big Ten Inch Record"||Fred Weismantel||2:16|
|1.||"Sweet Emotion"||Tyler, Hamilton||4:34|
|2.||"No More No More"||Tyler, Perry||4:34|
|3.||"Round and Round"||Tyler, Brad Whitford||5:03|
|4.||"You See Me Crying"||Tyler, Don Solomon||5:12|
Per liner notes
"No More No More" was covered by Velvet Revolver.
Run-D.M.C. covered "Walk This Way" in 1986. It features Steven Tyler on co-lead vocals and Joe Perry on guitar.
Rose Hill Drive covered the album in its entirety during their 2007-08 New Year's Eve concert.
Mr. Blotto covered the album in its entirety on July 23, 2011, during their 12th Blottopia at Vasa Park, South Elgin, Il.
|Chart (1975)||Peak position|
|US Billboard 200||11|
|Canada RPM 100 Albums||7|
|1975||"Sweet Emotion"||The Billboard Hot 100||36|
|"Walk This Way"||The Billboard Hot 100||10|
|1991||"Sweet Emotion"||Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks||36|
|RIAA – U.S.||Gold||August 11, 1975|
|Platinum||November 21, 1986|
|5× Platinum||December 21, 1988|
|6× Platinum||October 28, 1994|
|8× Platinum||June 4, 2002|
|CRIA – Canada||Gold||April 1, 1977|
|Platinum||December 1, 1978|
- Greatest Hits (CD insert). Aerosmith. U.S.A.: Columbia Records. 1993 . CK 57367.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Toys in the Attic - Aerosmith > Overview". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
- "RIAA Gold and Platinum Database". Retrieved April 25, 2011.
- "Cool Aerosmith info". Retrieved April 25, 2011.
- "Toys in the Attic - 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". rollingstone.com. Jann S. Wenner. April 5, 2010. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
- "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame top 500 songs". Archived from the original on 2007-05-24.
- Toys in the Attic (CD insert). Aerosmith. U.S.A.: Columbia Records. 1993 . CK 57362.
- Davis 1997.
- Myers, Marc (11 September 2014). "How Aerosmith Created 'Walk This Way': A look at how the hard-rock band, inspired in part by 'Young Frankenstein,' came up with a song that would become a top-10 hit twice". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- Tyler & Dalton 2011.
- Douglas, S. and Aerosmith: "Walk This Way", page 234. Avon, 1997
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Toys in the Attic - Aerosmith > Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
- Mitchell, Ben. "Toys in the Attic". blender.com. Alpha Media Group. Archived from the original on May 6, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
- "Robert Christgau Review of Aerosmith". Retrieved April 25, 2011.
- Fletcher, Gordon (1975-07-31). "Toys In The Attic". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-05-11.
- Kot, Greg. "Aerosmith - Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Jann S. Wenner. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
- "Aerosmith - Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
- "Aerosmith - Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
- Aerosmith - Toys in the Attic @Discogs.com Retrieved 10-12-2015.
- "RPM top albums 1975". Retrieved April 25, 2011.