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Draw the Line (Aerosmith album)

Draw the Line is the fifth studio album by American hard rock band Aerosmith, released December 1, 1977. It was recorded in an abandoned convent near New York City, rented out for that purpose.[5]

Draw the Line
AerosmithDrawtheLinealbumcover.jpg
Studio album by Aerosmith
Released December 1, 1977
Recorded June–October 1977
Studio The Cenacle
The Record Plant
Genre
Length 35:14
Label Columbia
Producer Aerosmith, Jack Douglas
Aerosmith chronology
Rocks
(1976)Rocks1976
Draw the Line
(1977)
Night in the Ruts
(1979)Night in the Ruts1979
Singles from Draw the Line
  1. "Draw the Line"
    Released: October 6, 1977
  2. "Kings and Queens"
    Released: February 21, 1978
  3. "Get It Up"
    Released: 1978
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau (B-)[2]
Rolling Stone (unfavorable)[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[4]

The portrait of the band was drawn by the celebrity caricaturist Al Hirschfeld.

According to AllMusic, "the band shies away from studio experimenting and dabbling in different styles; instead they return to simple, straight-ahead hard rock." [6] Kerrang! magazine listed the album at #37 among the "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time".[7]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

By 1977, Aerosmith had released four studio albums, the two most recent - Toys in the Attic (1975) and Rocks (1976) - catapulting the band to stardom. However, as the band began recording their next album, Draw the Line, their excessive lifestyle, combined with constant touring, began to take its toll. "Draw the Line was untogether because we weren't a cohesive unit anymore," guitarist Joe Perry admitted in the Stephen Davis band memoir Walk This Way. "We were drug addicts dabbling in music, rather than musicians dabbling in drugs.[8][full citation needed] Although the LP would sell well over a million copies in fewer than six weeks after its release, in 2014 Perry would refer to it as "the beginning of the end" and "the decay of our artistry..."[9]

Recording and compositionEdit

According to Steven Tyler's autobiography Does the Noise In My Head Bother You, manager David Krebs suggested that Aerosmith record their next album at an estate near Armonk, New York called the Cenacle, "away from the temptation of drugs." The plan failed miserably, however, with Tyler recalling, "Drugs can be imported, David...we have our resources. Dealers deliver! Hiding us away in a three-hundred room former convent was a prescription for total lunacy."[10][full citation needed] Largely due to their drug consumption, both Tyler and Perry were not as involved in the writing and recording as they had been on previous albums. According to Perry:

A lot of people had input into that record because Steven and I had stopped giving a fuck. "Draw the Line," "I Wanna Know Why," and "Get It Up" were the only things Steven and I wrote together. Tom, Joey and Steven came up with "Kings and Queens," and Brad played rhythm and lead. Brad and Steven wrote "The Hand That Feeds," which I didn't even play on because I'd stayed in bed the day they recorded it and Brad played great on it anyway.[8][full citation needed]

Producer Jack Douglas, who had started producing the band with Get Your Wings in 1974, expressed similar feelings about the apathy that permeated the recording sessions:

So I started Draw the Line, and for a while gave it my all. But because they were halfhearted about the record, I was too. Steven wasn't writing at all. They lyrics to "Critical Mass" came from a dream I had at the Cenacle. I never expected Steven to record it, but he didn't have anything else, so he used my lyrics as written. Same with "Kings and Queens." Steven and I wrote the lyrics together, which was like pulling teeth.[8][full citation needed]

For his part, Tyler has maintained that it was the band's lethargy, not his, that slowed his progress, because "I wasn't Patti Smith writing poetry. I write exactly to the music, and when the music ain't coming, neither were the lyrics."[8][full citation needed] However, Tyler confessed to Alan di Perna of Guitar World in April 1997, "What I specifically remember was not being present in the studio because I was so stoned. In the past, I always had to be there and hear every note that was going down - who was playing what and were they out of tune...I just didn't care anymore." Tyler's condition is evident in some of his lyrics, such as the line "pass me the vial and cross your fingers that it don't take time." In the VH1 Behind the Music episode on the group Douglas states, "People were shooting, bullets were flying. It was insane. People, drugs and guns. You know, they don't go together," with drummer Joey Kramer adding, "I don't know if we did any of those sessions, or made any of that record, straight." In his autobiography Rocks, Perry admits that he had misplaced a cookie tin full of demos for the band that he had prepared in his basement studio, irritating Douglas, but they were eventually found by Perry's wife Elyssa:[11]

Among those tapes was not only the fully realized "Bright Light Fright," but tracks that led to other songs like "I Wanna Know Why," "Get It Up," and "Draw the Line," the title tune. Something I'd started with David Johansen became "Sight for Sore Eyes." But the lyrics literally took months for Steven to write, and by then we were back at the Record Plant in New York.[12]

Relations deteriorated further when Perry presented "Bright Light Fright" to the band and they "didn't like it. I said, 'Do you want to do it or not?' They said no."[8][full citation needed] Perry, who has stated the song was inspired by the Sex Pistols,[8][full citation needed] sang the song himself on the LP. (He had shared lead vocal duties with Tyler on "Combination" from their previous album Rocks.) Of the ironically titled "Draw the Line," Tyler later recalled, "Joe had this lick on a six-string bass that was so definitive, the song just about wrote itself. It reached down my neck and grabbed the lyrics out of my throat."[10][full citation needed] The song encompasses many of the typical things Aerosmith is known for, including the strong rhythm backbeat and the back-and-forth interplay between guitarists Perry and Brad Whitford. The song slows down before building to a climax showcasing Tyler's trademark scream. The B-side of some versions of "Draw the Line", "Chip Away the Stone", was not on the LP but eventually surfaced on Gems. It was written by Richie Supa and received a fair amount of radio airplay after the release of Gems, and found its way into Aerosmith's live setlists for a while.

Kramer explained in 1997 that "Kings and Queens," the LP's second single, was a "typical session at the Cenacle. It was recorded in the chapel with the pews out, the drums on the altar. Jack was in the confessional, hitting the snare drum by himself."[8][full citation needed] In his memoir, Tyler writes that the song's lyrics were inspired by a "medieval fantasy" that featured "a stoned-out rock star in his tattered satin rags lying on the ancient stone floor of a castle - slightly mad, but still capable of conjuring up a revolutionary album that would astound the ears of the ones who heard it and make the critics cringe."[10][full citation needed] Jack Douglas plays the mandolin on the track, which was also used as a B-side to Aerosmith's version of the Beatles' "Come Together," released to promote the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band film and soundtrack. "Get It Up" features Karen Lawrence, singer of the band L.A. Jets, on the chorus. David Krebs later stated that he felt Tyler's lyrics on songs like "Get It Up" did not help the album's standing among Aerosmith fans: "The essence of Aerosmith had always been a positive and very macho sexuality, total unashamed, a little sleazy...They didn't want to hear lyrics like 'Get It Up,' which repeated over and over again, Can't get it up'...The negative lyrics were a big problem."[8][full citation needed] "Get It Up" was released as the album's third single but failed to break into the singles chart. The song is noted for its usage of slide guitar. The song was played occasionally by the band during the Aerosmith Express Tour from 1977–1978 in support of the Draw the Line album.[citation needed] The band did not have enough original material to cover the running time for a single album so they recorded two blues classics: Otis Rush's "All Your Love" and Kokomo Arnold's "Milk Cow Blues".[citation needed] ("All Your Love" would not make Draw the Line but would later turn up on the band's box set Pandora's Box.[citation needed])

ReceptionEdit

Draw the Line went platinum its first month of release, peaking at #11, eventually being certified 2x multi-platinum nearly a decade later. Even so, it marks the band's first slowdown in album sales of their 70s era, after their initial rise with the albums "Toys In the Attic" and "Rocks".[13] At the time of the album's release, Rolling Stone called the LP "a truly horrendous record, chaotic to the point of malfunction and with an almost impenetrably dense sound adding to the confusion."[citation needed] Donald A. Guarisco of AllMusic states, "Although some fans see Draw the Line as the beginning of a decline for Aerosmith, it still offers up some strong hard rock tunes. One of its best moments is the title track, one of the group's most relentless rockers."[citation needed] In a retrospective review for Ultimate Classic Rock, Sterling Whitaker cited "Get It Up" as an example of a Draw the Line track that "should-have-been-great-but-not-quite", saying that it "featured important elements of the classic Aerosmith sound, but somehow didn't catch fire."[14]

Track listingEdit

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Draw the Line" Steven Tyler, Joe Perry 3:23
2. "I Wanna Know Why" Tyler, Perry 3:09
3. "Critical Mass" Tyler, Tom Hamilton, Jack Douglas 4:53
4. "Get It Up" Tyler, Perry 4:02
5. "Bright Light Fright" Perry 2:19
6. "Kings and Queens" Tyler, Brad Whitford, Hamilton, Joey Kramer, Douglas 4:55
7. "The Hand That Feeds" Tyler, Whitford, Hamilton, Kramer, Douglas 4:23
8. "Sight for Sore Eyes" Tyler, Perry, Douglas, David Johansen 3:56
9. "Milk Cow Blues" Kokomo Arnold 4:14
Total length: 35:14

PersonnelEdit

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[16] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[17] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Prato, Greg. "Draw the Line". AllMusic. Retrieved January 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Draw the Line". Robert Christgau. 
  3. ^ Altman, Billy (March 19, 1978). "Draw the Line". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Aerosmith: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  5. ^ "Draw the Line review". Greg Prato. AllMusic. Retrieved 2008-07-09. 
  6. ^ Draw the Line - Aerosmith | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic
  7. ^ Zell, Ray (21 January 1989). "Aerosmith 'Draw the Line'". Kerrang!. 222. London, UK: Spotlight Publications Ltd. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Davis 1997.
  9. ^ Perry, Joe & Ritz, David 2014, p. 170-179.
  10. ^ a b c Tyler & Dalton 2011.
  11. ^ Perry, Joe & Ritz, David 2014, p. 171-173.
  12. ^ Perry, Joe & Ritz, David 2014, p. 174.
  13. ^ Gold & Platinum - RIAA
  14. ^ Whitaker, Sterling (2 December 2013). "36 Years Ago – Aerosmith Release 'Draw the Line'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "エアロスミスのCDアルバムランキング、エアロスミスのプロフィールならオリコン芸能人事典-ORICON STYLE". Oricon.co.jp. Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  16. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Aerosmith – Draw the Line". Music Canada. 
  17. ^ "American album certifications – Aerosmith – Draw the Line". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External linksEdit