CD Review of Devil’s Got a New Disguise: The Very Best of Aerosmith by Aerosmith

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Devil’s Got a New Disguise: The Very Best of Aerosmith
starstarstarstarno star Label: Columbia
Released: 2006
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You can’t argue with the success of Aerosmith. They worked hard to earn a somewhat under-the-radar success in the seventies, and overcame drug addiction and internal turmoil to make a comeback that began in the late eighties – a comeback that continues to this day, nearly 35 years after the band’s first hit single. But the amazing part of it all is that Steven Tyler and company continue to write rock songs that defy aging and defy any loss of songwriting chops that inevitably creep in over time. Simply put, this band frigging rocks and probably will for another 20 years. But once in a while, there comes a time to look back at the hits that were. Aerosmith’s latest, Devil’s Got a New Disguise, is a comprehensive collection of those hits along with two new tracks to keep its fans happy.

As with any live show, there are bound to be songs left out on a “greatest hits” collection. But for now, let’s talk about the songs that did make it to this album. It’s chronological, meaning the band’s first hit, “Dream On,” kicks things off. This song is as timeless as the day it came out. Other standout tracks from the early days of Aerosmith are “Sweet Emotion” from the Toys in the Attic album, and “Back in the Saddle” and “Last Child” from Rocks. And the version of “Walk This Way” that’s on here is the Run-DMC version, which is actually a nice change of pace in the middle of the set. And from the days of Permanent Vacation, Pump and Get a Grip are some of band’s mega-hits like “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” “Love in an Elevator” and “Janie’s Got a Gun.”

Rounding out the previously released material are “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Aerosmith’s first (and so far only) song to hit Number One, even though it was written by cheese-drenched balladeer Diane Warren for the “Armageddon” soundtrack; and “Jaded” from 2001,’s Just Push Play, which is one of the band’s best songs that tends to be forgotten amidst all of the other singles. Then there are the two new tracks, a mid-tempo shuffler called “Sedona Sunrise” and the testosterone-laden title track, both of which are as good as anything Aerosmith has ever released.

But like a sourpussed concertgoer, it bears noting that there are a few omissions to this “very best of” collection. If it’s technically a “best of” rather than “greatest hits,” then where is the representation from Get Your Wings, in particular “Same Old Song and Dance” or “Lord of the Thighs?” Where is “Toys in the Attic,” one of the most rocking songs Aerosmith ever recorded? And though many will disagree, their cover of “Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand)” from the critically pissed-on Night In the Ruts album is as good as anything that made it to this record.

Having the job of song selection could not have been easy in this case, but someone had to do it. For the most part, the Billboard charts dictated the set list, but it wouldn’t have hurt to throw in a few lesser-known gems too. Regardless, this is a greatest hits collection that rocks as hard as the band itself, and represents decades of making music that few artists can duplicate. Keep rocking, boys.

~Mike Farley