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|Draw the Line|
Cover art by Al Hirschfeld
|Studio album by|
|Singles from Draw the Line|
Draw the Line is the fifth studio album by American hard rock band Aerosmith, released in December 1977. It was recorded in an abandoned convent near New York City. The portrait of the band on the album cover was drawn by the celebrity caricaturist Al Hirschfeld.
By 1977, Aerosmith had released four studio albums, the two most recent – Toys in the Attic (1975) and Rocks (1976) – catapulting the band to stardom. However, as the band began recording its next album, Draw the Line, their excessive lifestyle, combined with constant touring and drug use, began to take its toll. "Draw the Line was untogether because we weren't a cohesive unit anymore," guitarist Joe Perry admitted in the Stephen Davis band memoir Walk This Way. "We were drug addicts dabbling in music, rather than musicians dabbling in drugs. Although the LP would sell well more than a million copies in fewer than six weeks after its release, in 2014 Perry would refer to it as "the beginning of the end" and "the decay of our artistry."
Recording and composition
According to Steven Tyler's autobiography Does the Noise In My Head Bother You, manager David Krebs suggested that the band record its next album at an estate near Armonk, New York called the Cenacle, "away from the temptation of drugs." The plan failed miserably, however, with Tyler recalling, "Drugs can be imported, David ... we have our resources. Dealers deliver! Hiding us away in a three-hundred room former convent was a prescription for total lunacy." Largely due to their drug consumption, both Tyler and Perry were not as involved in the writing and recording as they had been on previous albums. According to Perry:
A lot of people had input into that record because Steven and I had stopped giving a fuck. "Draw the Line," "I Want To Know Why," and "Get It Up" were the only things Steven and I wrote together. Tom, Joey and Steven came up with "Kings and Queens," and Brad played rhythm and lead. Brad and Steven wrote "The Hand That Feeds," which I didn't even play on because I'd stayed in bed the day they recorded it and Brad played great on it anyway.
So I started Draw the Line, and for a while gave it my all. But because they were half-hearted about the record, I was too. Steven wasn't writing at all. The lyrics to "Critical Mass" came from a dream I had at the Cenacle. I never expected Steven to record it, but he didn't have anything else, so he used my lyrics as written. Same with "Kings and Queens." Steven and I wrote the lyrics together, which was like pulling teeth.
For his part, Tyler has maintained that it was the band's lethargy, not his, that slowed his progress, because "I wasn't Patti Smith writing poetry. I write exactly to the music, and when the music ain't coming, neither were the lyrics." However, Tyler confessed to Alan di Perna of Guitar World in April 1997, "What I specifically remember was not being present in the studio because I was so stoned. In the past, I always had to be there and hear every note that was going down – who was playing what and were they out of tune ... I just didn't care anymore." Tyler's condition is evident in some of his lyrics, such as the line "pass me the vial and cross your fingers that it don't take time." In the VH1 Behind the Music episode on the group Douglas states, "People were shooting, bullets were flying. It was insane. People, drugs and guns. You know, they don't go together," with drummer Joey Kramer adding, "I don't know if we did any of those sessions, or made any of that record, straight." In his autobiography Rocks, Perry admits that he had misplaced a cookie tin full of demos for the band that he had prepared in his basement studio, irritating Douglas, but they were eventually found by Perry's wife Elyssa:
Among those tapes was not only the fully realized "Bright Light Fright," but tracks that led to other songs like "I Want To Know Why," "Get It Up" and "Draw the Line," the title tune. Something I'd started with David Johansen became "Sight for Sore Eyes." But the lyrics literally took months for Steven to write, and by then we were back at the Record Plant in New York.
Relations deteriorated further when Perry presented "Bright Light Fright" to the band and they "didn't like it. I said, 'Do you want to do it or not?' They said no." Perry, who has stated the song was inspired by the Sex Pistols, sang the song himself on the LP. (He had shared lead vocal duties with Tyler on "Combination" from their previous album Rocks.) Of "Draw the Line," Tyler later recalled, "Joe had this lick on a six-string bass that was so definitive, the song just about wrote itself. It reached down my neck and grabbed the lyrics out of my throat." The song encompasses many of the typical things Aerosmith is known for, including the strong rhythm backbeat and the back-and-forth interplay between guitarists Perry and Brad Whitford. The song slows down before building to a climax showcasing Tyler's trademark scream. The B-side of some versions of "Draw the Line," "Chip Away the Stone", was not on the LP but eventually surfaced on the compilation album Gems. It was written by Richard Supa, received a fair amount of radio airplay after the release of Gems and found its way into Aerosmith's live set-lists for a while.
Kramer explained in 1997 that "Kings and Queens," the LP's second single, was a "typical session at the Cenacle. It was recorded in the chapel with the pews out, the drums on the altar. Jack was in the confessional, hitting the snare drum by himself." In his memoir, Tyler writes that the song's lyrics were inspired by a "medieval fantasy" that featured "a stoned-out rock star in his tattered satin rags lying on the ancient stone floor of a castle - slightly mad, but still capable of conjuring up a revolutionary album that would astound the ears of the ones who heard it and make the critics cringe." Jack Douglas plays the mandolin on the track, which was also used as a B-side to Aerosmith's version of the Beatles' "Come Together," released to promote the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band film and soundtrack. "Get It Up" features Karen Lawrence, singer of the band L.A. Jets, on the chorus. David Krebs later stated that he felt Tyler's lyrics on songs like "Get It Up" did not help the album's standing among Aerosmith fans: "The essence of Aerosmith had always been a positive and very macho sexuality, total unashamed, a little sleazy ... They didn't want to hear lyrics like 'Get It Up,' which repeated over and over again, Can't get it up' ... The negative lyrics were a big problem." "Get It Up" was released as the album's third single but failed to break into the singles chart. The song is noted for its usage of slide guitar and was played occasionally by the band during the Aerosmith Express Tour from 1977–1978 in support of the Draw the Line album. The band did not have enough original material to cover the running time for a single album so they recorded two blues classics: Otis Rush's "All Your Love" and Kokomo Arnold's "Milk Cow Blues." ("All Your Love" did not make Draw the Line, but would later turn up on the band's box set Pandora's Box.)
|Christgau's Record Guide||B-|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Contemporary reviews were quite negative. Billy Altman of Rolling Stone called the LP "a truly horrendous record, chaotic to the point of malfunction and with an almost impenetrably dense sound adding to the confusion." Robert Christgau considered the album the product of a band "out of gas".
Retrospective reviews are more positive. Kerrang! magazine listed the album at No. 37 among the "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time" for its "high energy", although it never touches heavy metal as a genre, concluding with the comment "sleaze was never so classy." According to Greg Prato of AllMusic, "the band shies away from studio experimenting and dabbling in different styles," returning "to simple, straight-ahead hard rock" and releasing "the last true studio album from Aerosmith's original lineup for nearly a decade." Another AllMusic reviewer stated that, "although some fans see Draw the Line as the beginning of a decline for Aerosmith, it still offers up some strong hard-rock tunes. One of its best moments is the title track, one of the group's most relentless rockers." In a review for Ultimate Classic Rock, Sterling Whitaker cited "Get It Up" as an example of a track that "should-have-been-great-but-not-quite," saying that it "featured important elements of the classic Aerosmith sound, but somehow didn't catch fire."
Draw the Line went platinum its first month of release, entering the music charts on December 24, 1977, peaking at No. 11 on the US Billboard 200, and eventually being certified 2x multi-platinum nearly a decade later. Even so, it marks the band's first slowdown in album sales of their 1970s era, after their initial rise with the albums Toys in the Attic and Rocks.
|1.||"Draw the Line"||Steven Tyler, Joe Perry||3:23|
|2.||"I Wanna Know Why"||Tyler, Perry||3:09|
|3.||"Critical Mass"||Tyler, Tom Hamilton, Jack Douglas||4:53|
|4.||"Get It Up"||Tyler, Perry||4:02|
|5.||"Bright Light Fright"||Perry||2:19|
|1.||"Kings and Queens"||Tyler, Brad Whitford, Hamilton, Joey Kramer, Douglas||4:55|
|2.||"The Hand That Feeds"||Tyler, Whitford, Hamilton, Kramer, Douglas||4:23|
|3.||"Sight for Sore Eyes"||Tyler, Perry, Douglas, David Johansen||3:56|
|4.||"Milk Cow Blues"||Kokomo Arnold||4:14|
- Steven Tyler – lead vocals, harmonica, piano on "Kings and Queens", backing vocals
- Joe Perry – lead and rhythm guitar, slide guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Bright Light Fright"
- Brad Whitford – rhythm and lead guitar on "Kings and Queens", "I Wanna Know Why", "The Hand That Feeds" and first solo of "Milk Cow Blues"
- Tom Hamilton – bass guitar
- Joey Kramer – drums, percussion
- Stan Bronstein – saxophone on "I Wanna Know Why" and "Bright Light Fright"
- Scott Cushnie – piano on "I Wanna Know Why" and "Critical Mass"
- Karen Lawrence – backing vocals on "Get It Up"
- Jack Douglas – mandolin on "Kings and Queens"
- Paul Prestopino – acoustic guitar, banjo guitar on "Kings and Queens"
- Jack Douglas – producer and arrangements with Aerosmith
- David Krebs, Steve Leber – executive producers, management, art direction
- Jay Messina – engineer
- David Hewitt – remote truck director
- Sam Ginsberg – assistant engineer
- George Marino – mastering at Sterling Sound, New York
- Al Hirschfeld – cover illustration
|US||RIAA||1996||2x Platinum (+ 2,000,000)|
|Canada||CRIA||1977||Platinum (+ 100,000)|
- Huxley 2015, eBook, "Draw the Line was released just before Christmas of 1977".
- Prato, Greg. "Aerosmith: Draw the Line – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved July 9, 2008.
- Davis & Aerosmith 1997, p. 291.
- Perry & Ritz 2014, p. 170-179.
- Tyler & Dalton 2011, p. 132.
- Davis & Aerosmith 1997, p. 292.
- Perry & Ritz 2014, p. 171-173.
- Perry & Ritz 2014, p. 174.
- Tyler & Dalton 2011, p. 133.
- Davis & Aerosmith 1997, pp. 307-308.
- Christgau, Robert. "Aerosmith- Consumer Guide Reviews: Draw the Line". Robert Christgau. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
- Kot, Greg. "Aerosmith - Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Jann S. Wenner. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
- Altman, Billy (March 19, 1978). "Draw the Line". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
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- Whitaker, Sterling (December 2, 2013). "36 Years Ago – Aerosmith Release 'Draw the Line'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
- Billboard: December 24, 1977, page 152; Cash Box: December 24, 1977, page 55; Record World: December 24, 1977, page 44
- "Aerosmith Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard.com. Billboard. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
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- "エアロスミスのCDアルバムランキング、エアロスミスのプロフィールならオリコン芸能人事典-ORICON STYLE". Oricon.co.jp. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 28, No. 21, February 18, 1978". Library and Archives Canada. February 18, 1978. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
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- "Aerosmith Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard.com. Billboard. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
- "Top Singles – Volume 29, No. 4, April 22, 1978". Library and Archives Canada. April 22, 1978. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
- "Music Canada Gold & Platinum: search for Aerosmith". Music Canada. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
- Davis, Stephen; Aerosmith (October 1, 1997). Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith. New York City: Avon Books. ISBN 978-0-380-97594-5.
- Huxley, Martin (2015). Aerosmith: The Fall and the Rise of Rock's Greatest Band. St. Martin's Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1250096531.
- Perry, Joe; Ritz, David (October 7, 2014). Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith. New York City: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-476-71454-7.
- Tyler, Steven; Dalton, David (May 3, 2011). Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir. New York City: Ecco Press. ISBN 978-0-061-76789-0.