Done With Mirrors


Geffen Records, 1985

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


By all rights, Aerosmith was dead in 1983. The band had suffered the loss of key members Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, and the drug use and abuse of a decade had finally taken its toll on everyone involved. After the dismal failure of Night In The Ruts and Rock In A Hard Place, even Columbia Records had given up on the band.

But no sooner could you say "comeback of the millenium" than guitarist Perry and lead singer Steven Tyler got the drug monkeys off their backs, and the five founding members of Aerosmith reunited to give it one more shot. Enter Geffen Records and producer Ted Templeman (who had been influential in Van Halen's early days) - and in 1985, the comeback began with Done With Mirrors.

Why this album isn't viewed in the same light as Permanent Vacation, Toys In The Attic or Nine Lives I'll never understand, 'cause simply put, this album kicks ass. Aerosmith are out to prove that they weathered the storm that almost cost them their careers and lives - and came through it all even stronger.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Kicking it off with "Let The Music Do The Talking" (originally done by the Joe Perry Project after his departure from Aerosmith in 1979), the band shows off the form they hadn't displayed since Rocks or Draw The Line. The slide guitar on this one is incredibly tasty, and Tyler is in fine form vocally.

But this isn't the strongest performance on Done With Mirrors - in fact, I have a hard time deciding which is the best song on the album (recently released as a "budget line" title by Geffen). Is it the shuffle-boogie of "My Fist Your Face" (c'mon, how can you not love a song with a title like that?), or is it the syncopated build-up of "The Reason A Dog"? Is it the balls-out approach taken on "The Hop," or is it the noodlings off of two chords that are used creatively on "Shame On You"?

Fact is, there's not a weak moment on this entire album - though I'll concede the bonus track "Darkness," as ambitious as it was for Aerosmith, is the one that seems the least Aerosmith-format. 'Course, that whole format went out the window with the success of ballads like "Angel" and "Janie's Got A Gun".

So why didn't Done With Mirrors succeed in the big picture? Maybe it was because this album was the least cock-rock that I ever remember Aerosmith being - there's not a whole lot of singing about getting parallel here. Maybe it was because people didn't think a band that had come so close to self-destruction could be capable of putting out high quality material again. Maybe it was because the musical tides had changed. (If this was the case, the band's guesting on Run-DMC's cover of "Walk This Way" helped them out more than they ever thought it would.)

No matter what the reason that this album didn't top the charts was, Done With Mirrors is a damn fine record, and one that deserves to be re-discovered by everyone. Long-time Aerosmith fans who haven't dusted this one off in a while will be shocked to hear how solid of a work it is, while newer fans will probably think that the band never missed a beat on first listen. (The only complaint - I sure hope that Geffen put all the type-setting back to the correct style - it's really hard reading a mirror image of everything.)

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 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 Geffen Records, and is used for informational purposes only.