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Aerosmith's Return: Big Riffs, Weird Choices

AerosmithAerosmith

Aerosmith

Music From Another Dimension
Columbia Records
Three Stars

And just like that, Steven Tyler's solo career seems like a strange dream we all had. The Aerosmith reunion album is the first collection of new tunes the bad boys from Boston have managed since 2001. Nobody knows why Aerosmith can't seem to do anything the easy way – you'd think these five guys could knock out an Aerosmith album in their sleep. (And it wouldn't be the first time they made a record that way.) But that's all just part of their long-running mystique as rock & roll's ultimate dysfunctional family.

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The usual forehead-slapping decisions are here: goopy Eighties production, tired synth horns, a Diane Warren ballad. "Tell Me" aims for the slow-jam style of their Alicia Silverstone years, and "Street Jesus" rewrites "Toys in the Attic." Sometimes it's easy to hear that Tyler and his bandmates aren't on the same page, or the same planet. When he duets with his fellow American Idol alum Carrie Underwood for "Can't Stop Loving You" (rhymes with "because it's all I wanna do"), it sounds like the rest of Aerosmith is off hiding in the next studio.

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The best thing about Music From Another Dimension! is the chance to hear Joe Perry and Brad Whitford play guitar – always the best thing about any Aerosmith album. "LUV XXX," despite the dippy title, revives the Rocks-style riff glory no other band can replicate. Best song by a mile: "Legendary Child," where they take on their own legacy, looking back musically and emotionally, as Tyler concludes, "We got that golden fleece from tokin' on that pipe o' peace."

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