There’s a new Aerosmith live album on Spotify, and it’s head-y as hell.
The mysterious “new” album simply titled, Live Radio Broadcast, was recorded during a concert in front of Aerosmith’s hometown fans at The Music Hall in Boston back on March 28th, 1978, during the height of their commercial popularity and reckless drug use. Fans won’t find the album under the band’s official Spotify page, leading one to assume whether or not the band even knows of its existence, and who exactly had the ownership rights to add it to the popular streaming service in the first place. Regardless of how it appeared or who is responsible, the album represents a treasure trove of late-70s live recordings.
The audio quality of the show is far superior to the band’s official album releases, notably their 1979 Live! Bootleg and Classics Live albums from the 1980s. The audio is loud, heavy, and authentic–exactly what you’d want out of an Aerosmith concert back in the 1970s. 1978 was an era when drugs were certainly playing a large role in the band members’ personal and professional lives, but not quite to the point yet where cocaine and heroin began working against them creatively. To put the performance into a wider rock history perspective, it is the Aerosmith equivalent to the Grateful Dead‘s famous 5/8/77 Cornell show or Rolling Stones‘ Ladies & Gentleman in terms of audio quality and on-stage chemistry from the band. Oh yeah, it’s that good.
The album starts out with “Walk This Way”, one of the big singles from 1975’s Toys in the Attic featuring Joe Perry riffing away in sync with Brad Whitford with the help of a talkbox, which he would often use on that song back then. The opening performance is not too erratic or rushed as it sounds on Live! Bootleg. “Rats in the Cellar” is next, and its a dark and heavy version of the 1976 tune off of their Rocks LP, although the one downside of the recording is their traditional ending jam on that song ends abruptly. It does, however, swing right into the lively intro of “Big Ten Inch Record”, a Bull Moose Jackson blues tune which the band has used in their live set over the years. The recording really showcases Stephen Tyler blowing away on his harmonica during the intro and again in the solos, a talent of his which is greatly under-appreciated as a performer.
The album continues into a fantastic and rare live version of “I Wanna Know Why”, a proto-punk song off their from their then-new studio album, 1977’s Draw The Line. The track is both fun and swanky and really shines in the way the song was meant to be heard. It also comes with a nasty guitar solo courtesy of Whitford. They followed that up with a super funky rendition of “Sight for the Sore Eyes”, before heading into “Seasons of Wither” from 1974’s Get Your Wings. The lively version of their nature-inspired song helps it rise up to its potential as some expression of power-folk psychedelia. Their super hit “Sweet Emotion” came next, although there’s nothing too special about this performance that can’t be heard on their other live albums.
“Lord of the Thighs” was played next, and could easily be considered the highlight of the show. That performance just reeks of pure 1970s Aerosmith ethos–Sex, Drugs, & Rock n’ Roll. Tyler’s voice drags along with those drawn out notes in the verse. All of a sudden Perry hits the gas and takes the listener into orbit with a great solo as he and Whitford go back and forth into a nearly seven-minute jam. “Chip Away At The Stone” features some cool and noticeably clear vocal duets between Perry and Tyler during the choruses. “Get The Lead Out” is next and sounds fine, but the next track, “Get It Up”, is another one of the album’s gems. It’s rare in the Aerosmith world to hear a live recording of “Get It Up” with such good audio quality. It’s a fun live version with Perry grooving away with his guitar slide, one skill he is very good at which he displays during a brief solo at the end.
“Same Old Song and Dance” and “Milk Cow Blues” keep the show going, with the other Tom Hamilton giving his usual bass solo to close out the former.
The album comes to a close with three powerhouse setlist regulars–their adrenaline-pumping cover of the blues standard, “Train Kept a’ Rollin”, “Draw The Line”, and “Toys in the Attic”. The performance of “Train” is fundamentally solid for fans who are into that song and comes with a really spacey ending solo from Perry. “Draw The Line” always gets the energy going, and this performance was no exception. Perry showcases those fantastic slide skills of his while Tyler’s voice is at its peak coming out of the solo and into the final run of the chorus line. The band’s quick performance to close the show with “Toys” is by far the best live version of the early punk tune found anywhere. Distortion pedals are active and roaring from both guitarist with a mix of crunch that is borderline maddening–completely over the top and excessive, making it the perfect set closer for Aerosmith circa 1978.
The album is peak Aerosmith from a decade where many rock fans and critics consider the band at their best in the first era of their nearly 50-year career.