The Hard Rock Blue Print or Aerosmith – Toys In The Attic

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Say what you want about Aerosmith, and I know that opinions vary wildly, but they were at one time the most important rock ‘n’ roll band in the U.S. of A. Too heavy to be power-pop, too light to be metal they were the popular bridge between the so-cal sounds of Fleetwood Mac and the raw power of Black Sabbath. The path that Aerosmith helped to create in the ‘70’s is what every glam-hair-metal band rode in on the 80’s. Furthermore, Toys In The Attic was the blueprint used by many of these bands trying to find mainstream success. A couple all out naughty rock tunes (“Walk This Way” & “Sweet Emotion”), a ballad (“You See Me Crying”) some quirky humour (“Big Ten Inch Record”), deep cuts to give a bit of depth (“Uncle Salty” & “No More No More”) and you have the recipe used by everyone from Faster Pussycat to Bon Jovi.

Of course Toys In The Attic sold close to 8 million records, so finding a copy isn’t a problem. The real issue is finding what is worth owning from a fidelity point of view. While original copies are plentiful, finding a great copy while crate digging can be hit and miss. Looking at discogs, you can see a virtual ton for under $5.00, but warning, buyer beware. This was about the time record companies began to release material on crappy vinyl. Standard was 120 gram, and some companies began to cut back to as low as the wobbly 80 gram. Inspect it first, or only buy from a reputable vendor. As for the reissue and re-mastered market, you got a couple really good options.

I don’t usually recommend CD’s, but in 1993, Columbia released a limited and re-mastered edition of Toys In The Attic on a super bit mapping 24k gold disc as part of their legacy collection. After buying it back in the 90’s, I sold my original CD copy and retired my old worn out vinyl edition. The sound from the gold CD blew them away. Still it can get a bit pricey finding one in great shape. Resellers have them listed anywhere from $30 to upwards of a $100.

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Still, being a bit of a vinyl enthusiast I picked up a new 180 gram limited edition (5000) copy on Record Store Day 2013. This is also a newly re-mastered edition. With the two playing back to back I noted a couple of small differences. The vinyl seemed to have a much warmer sound on the bass and drums while the CD put a bit more emphasis on the vocals and guitars.

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Honestly, I’m on the fence this time. I’ll take the vinyl on a great system with headphones, but the CD sounds awesome on everything that has a decent set of speakers.

Anyway, the RSD vinyl is still widely available for under $30 for anyone who is thinking of taking that route. I have no regrets with mine.

TAKE THAT, FOUR OF A KIND! or Queens Of The Stone Age – … Like Clockwork

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To say that …Like Clockwork was a loved record would be an understatement, it was pretty much universally praised as a great record. In hindsight Josh Homme was screaming to the world that Queens Of The Stone Age were now the greatest hard rock band since “fill in your own blank.” Almost two years since its release and “I Sat By The Ocean” can be heard almost daily on the radio. Josh Homme must have had an inkling it was great before it was even released because he handed fans an abundance of options to not only purchase it in multi formats, but four different vinyl versions as well. Three of those wax options were on the very day of release.

1) 2x vinyl 12” that plays at 45rpm with a red cover

2) 2x vinyl 12” limited edition (10000 copies) 150 gram vinyl plays at 45 rpm with a blue album cover

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3) 2x vinyl 12” limited edition 180 gram vinyl plays at 45rpm with an oversized gatefold cover containing a 20 page book

Then, with the album already selling very well came Record Store Day/Black Friday and the band put out option #4; the so called Black On Black Friday Edition. Limited to 2400 copies the cover art was in black and inside was a 180 gram vinyl record.

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Now the funny thing about these options, are the crazy prices that vinyl resellers are asking for them.  In some cases, sealed copies of the black cover and the blue cover editions have asking prices of over a $100.00 but used copies can be found for under $35.00. Funnier still were that I found people asking $35.00 for a new copy of the standard red cover edition and the deluxe book set for another $100.00. The reason I find this funny is that the bands own website still has these for sale for less money. WAY LESS! The standard vinyl is $19.99 and the deluxe is $44.99 American.

Honestly, if you’re looking at purchasing …Like Clockwork on vinyl, go to your local record store before you start thinking about the online re-sellers. Great sounding new records are still available. I’ve even seen a couple of the blue covers kickin’ around at regular prices.