Columbia - 2004 - 43 minutes
Aerosmith ceased to be a dangerous band a long time ago. Since their comeback on RUN DMC's cover of 'Walk This Way' in 1986, they've had one great album ('Permanent Vacation'), come second only to Bon Jovi in the radio-friendly rock stakes and developed a worrying interest in slush-heavy ballads which reached its nadir with 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing' from that very moving film 'Armageddon'.
No fan should say that anything from the past 18 years deserves to be placed anywhere near the run of classic albums ('Get Your Wings', 'Toys in the Attic', 'Rocks', 'Draw the Line') Aerosmith made in the 1970s, and perhaps their appeal now lies in knowing exactly what to expect. Unlike Mick Jagger, singer Steven Tyler can get away with being old and bawdy, guitarist Joe Perry still has the chops and 'the other three' keep it all ticking over in the engine room. If they didn't play the hits, people would be upset, if they only played them, no bouncers would expect a riot.
If fans draw comfort from such constants, then Aerosmith show on 'Honkin' on Bobo' how much the familiar means to them too. It's their blues covers/stopgap album, celebrating their influences, they claim, Aerosmith-style. In truth, there's little to distinguish most of the tracks from what a very good bar band could come up with, given the right resources and time in a studio. Covers of 'Road Runner', 'Baby, Please Don't Go' and 'You Gotta Move', show that The White Stripes have nothing to fear - they're standards in the narrowest sense of the word. And curiously, Perry's time on the mic ('Back Back Train' and 'Stop Messin' Around') is as compelling as anything Tyler comes up with.
While Aerosmith have reunited with the producer responsible for many of their 70s triumphs, Jack Douglas, 'Honkin' on Bobo' needed more spit and less polish. Stripped right down to the basics (a la Johnny Cash's 'American Recordings' series), would've been the right way for Aerosmith to pay their dues; with a sound this glossy they're just going through the motions.
Tracklisting: Road Runner - Shame, Shame, Shame - Eyesight to the Blind - Baby, Please Don't Go - Never Loved a Girl - Back Back Train - You Gotta Move - The Grind - I'm Ready - Temperature - Stop Messin' Around - Jesus is on the Main Line