Draw The Line


Columbia Records, 1977


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Anyone who is more than just a casual fan of Aerosmith (meaning they don't just know the band's songs when they're played on the radio) knows the tale of excess and debauchery that their lives became in the '70s. Draw The Line, the fifth studio effort from Steven Tyler and crew, was the first major sign of trouble that was evident in the music.

A more bare-bones effort all around, Aerosmith sound like this project was both rushed and labored - and while there are moments on this disc that continue to show the band's power and brilliance. But at other times, the red flags aren't just raised, they're waved like they were being used at the Indy 500, leading to a disappointing release.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

To be sure, there's still material on this disc that will make you wonder how Tyler, Joe Perry and the gang were able to keep coming up with hit after hit. The title track is undoubtedly the best known among the group, and the utilization of slide guitar on the main riff helps to really drive this song home to the listener. But the best track in the bunch is one which hardly ever gets any attention - "Critical Mass," a pounding number which chugs forward like an out-of-control locomotive into your spinal column. The staggered rhythm and delivery of the chorus are the keys to this song, easily one of Aerosmith's best.

But there are some genuine clunkers on Draw The Line as well. I will never understand how "Kings And Queens" made it onto Aerosmith's Greatest Hits, even though that was a rushed set; this attempt at a slower, more thoughtful rock song is weighed down by its own self-importance, and sinks like a rock. While not as spectacular a failure, "The Hand That Feeds" is a track with a style shift that also does not work as well for Aerosmith.

Other songs aren't failures in the strongest sense of the word, but they hardly represent the band's best work. Tracks like "Sight For Sore Eyes," "I Wanna Know Why" and "Get It Up" would be considered filler on any of Aerosmith's previous albums; their inclusion here is one sign of increasing desparation. And while Perry is a capable lead vocalist (something he's proven time and time again as Aerosmith's career has chugged on), "Bright Light Fright" isn't the kind of debut that was worthy of Perry.

If anything, Draw The Line is still worthy of your attention, if only to have your hands on songs like "Critical Mass," or to try and pinpoint stages in the band's descent into personal conflicts. The funny thing is, had this album been released in place of Get Your Wings, it might have been salvagable. After the one-two punch of Toys In The Attic and Rocks, though, it's a letdown - though not as big of one as Aerosmith would soon deliver.

Rating: C+

User Rating: B+



© 2002 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.