Every band wishes for an album like this. The year I graduated from high school, it was the year of Born to Run, Wish You Were Here, Physical Graffiti, Blood on the Tracks, Fleetwood Mac, One of These Nights, Welcome to My Nightmare, Young Americans, Red Octopus, Zuma, Fandango, Katy Lied, The Who By Numbers, Face the Music, Gorilla, A Night at the Opera and Toys in the Attic. What a great year for rock music.
In May of 1975, just before summer, CBS released “Sweet Emotion,” the first single from the album.
Aerosmith was a curious band from the Boston area, a blues/rock group in the spirit of The Rolling Stones and LED Zeppelin. Their songs were built from slicing guitar riffs, punctuated by a bass line by co-writer Tom Hamilton that took indecent melodic liberties like a John Entwistle of The Who. “Sweet Emotion” started out on a pulsating groove that erupted into power chords and Steven Tyler’s aggressive vocals. Was it a ballad or a rocker? It was both.
Toward the end of summer, “Walk This Way” was unleashed on the public. Another chaotic rocker, the group proved that they could write some very complex songs that changed gears in midstream, and showed off their instrumental prowess.
Both of these songs were top 40 hits. The album would rise to number 11 and sell more than a million copies on release. Forty-five years later it would have sold more than eight million copies.
Toys in the Attic was their third album, and third in three years. “Dream On” from their first album was released in 1975 and becoming a top 10 hit.
The rest of the songs on the album have the playful, aggressive rock and roll spirit, though not breakout hits like the aforementioned singles. This is very much a band album, with all but drummer Joey Kramer having a songwriting credit.
Produced by Jack Douglas, he fine-tuned their bar sound, giving them a more accessible sound than fellow Boston rockers J.Geils Band, who were more like the Yardbirds than The Rolling Stones, which Aerosmith was more akin. Throw in the occasional ballad and old fashioned song, and in actuality, You have the heir apparent to the Alice Cooper Group.
Thirty-seven minutes of pulsating, riffs, and Tyler growls. Toys in the Attic was at home on FM radio, pool parties, the frat house and slumber parties. You could dance to the songs, sing along or play air guitar.
The mid 1970s was light, fun and not saddled by heavy messages. This was beer drinking, party music. This was hard rock but not heavy metal.