Make no mistake, this is product, pure and simple.
Aerosmith's Music From Another Dimension! (*** out of four, out Tuesday), the band's first studio album of original material since 2001's Just Push Play, isn't some laboriously constructed decade-in-the-making opus or, title notwithstanding, a daring artistic statement.
It's just 15 songs that this often-dysfunctional but always sturdy-sounding 42-year-old band will wedge in between the hits as it continues its Global Warming tour.
Prospects for radio airplay may be iffy (which says more about today's age-biased programmers than the quality of the music), but several numbers could (and have) become in-concert faves: Lover Alot, a balls-to-the-wall rocker built around Tom Hamilton's pounding bass line; Joe Perry's seven-minute guitar showcase Out Go the Lights; Oh Yeah, with its Jumpin' Jack Flash-like riffs; and power ballads Closer and the Diane Warren-penned We All Fall Down, on which Steven Tyler offers a how-to to his former American Idol-ators.
Solid, but a notch below, are the Carrie Underwood-Tyler duet Can't Stop Loving You, where the twang doesn't quite mesh with the tang; What Could Have Been Love, a poppy ballad that belongs on a summer chick-flick soundtrack; the hard-boogeying Street Jesus; and Luv XXX, with Julian Lennon on backing vocals.
Thanks to a reunion with producer Jack Douglas, who worked on some of the band's best albums in the '70s and '80s, the classic Aerosmith sound is intact in both its rock and power ballad forms. Perry's guitar work comes off as punchier than Tyler's more rote and slightly worn vocals, and the lyrics throughout are lame.
Three tracks are strictly filler: Beautiful, Freedom Fighter (with Perry on lead vocals, backed by Johnny Depp) and Something. Two fail to meet their potential: aimless rocker Legendary Child and overwrought ballad Tell Me.
One offering defies categorizing: the weirdly captivating Another Last Goodbye.
The ballad starts with a piano figure borrowed from Dream On before acquiring a chamber-music feel. Then Tyler tries to climb a scale with a thin, croaking scream that's not quite self-parody and not quite pathetic, just fascinating.
>> Download:We All Fall Down, Lover Alot, Oh Yeah, Closer, Another Last Goodbye